So you’re thinking about traveling to Latin America? Sure you might head south with the intention of just enjoying the stunning scenery and vibrant culture, but let’s be honest, beyond those sprawling coastlines and incredible mountain vistas there’s another allure – the food. Oh, the glorious food.
The Latin American food scene provides a bold taste for everyone, from the foodie with the refined palate, to the easygoing traveler who would gladly enjoy all their meals served from street carts. Food there is the direct (and delicious) result of a global blending of cultures that’s now created some of the most phenomenal and distinctive dishes you’ll find anywhere.
And since you’ve got to eat, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites to get you and your taste buds truly inspired on your next trip to Latin America.
Buenos Aires, Argentina – Buenos Aires has a truly unique culinary profile that’s the result of Latin and European influences. Think, “A Latin steakhouse’s take on Tuscan classics”.
Mostly known for beef, their (generally grass-fed) steak is the stuff of legends. Pick up a breaded meat fillet, known as a milanesa, from a street vendor or sink your teeth into the perfect cut of tenderloin at Cabaña Las Lilas, one of the city’s famed eateries.
For a divine version of ‘street meat’ be sure to grab a crispy and juicy choripán, Argentina’s signature homemade butterflied chorizo on a bun topped with zesty chimmichuri sauce.
And even though the city does meat so well, don’t miss out on something sweet to finish off your meal. Grab a cone of decedent and creamy Helado, Argentina’s gelato-like ice cream treat that might make you wonder if it’s acceptable to make a whole meal out of just dessert.
Cartagena, Colombia – Any visit to this great walled city must include ample samplings of the street food, starting with the arepa. These divinely soft and buttery baked corn pancakes are packed with an impressive array off luscious fillings, ranging from melted cheese, savory meats and egg, to a sweet dulce de leche.
Even aside from arepas, Cartagna’s street food scene is still spectacular. Vendors offer goodies like chorizo kebabs, empanadas, patacones -fried green plantains, and tart ceviches made with fresh caught seafood served in a zesty tomato-mayo dressing.
To cool down grab some fresh squeezed juice or an inspired mixed drink created on-the-spot with exotic fruits, coconut or condensed milk, and fun dashes of spices like cinnamon.
Lima, Peru – Lima has arguably become one of the top culinary destinations in the world, with their amazing restaurant scene expanding even more every year. The tremendous blend of Incan, European, and Japanese influences work together to seamlessly create a bold and inspired culinary style seen nowhere else.
Ceviche is the city’s mainstay dish and can be found everywhere from high-end kitchens to street side vendors laddeling out the flounder, corn, and sweet potato-filled bowls for every lunch rush.
For an amazing sit down dining experience, visit the best-rated restaurant in Latin America, called Central, where you can enjoy beef ribs with blue-green algae and sip on a coca leaf Pisco Sour.
Lastly, the unexpected influence of Japan also makes for some phenomenal local dishes. Try taradito, the city’s take on sashimi, or any one of Lima’s succulent noodle bowls.
Mexico City, Mexico – First things first, Mexico City is renowned for their tacos. Whether from a street stall or sit down eatery you are sure to find “the best taco you’ve ever had.” That is, until the next day where you will once again find “the best taco you’ve ever had.”
Whether you’re a vegetarian or a full-on carnivore youll have entirely too many options. From spit pork and chorizo, chile rellenos and beans, to squash and queso fresco, there is no shortage of choices to artfully fill those tasty, warm little tortillas and endlessly delight your taste buds.
Of course it’s not all just about the taco, be sure to sample local favorites like crispy tostadas, donner-style kebabs, and a bowl of rustic pozole, a traditional soup or stew prepared with hominy, meat, and a just-spicy-enough blend of chilies, onions, and garlic.
If the choices overwhelm you and you want to get a taste of everything the city has to offer, take a food tour with Eat Mexico. The tour will introduce you to antojitos, the “little cravings” street vendors hawk, as well as take you through the culinary hub of the city, the Mercado de San Juan.