From grilled street food snacks and the world’s best steak to açai bowls by the beach, these are the Latin American dishes to seek out and try on your next trip through South America. Pack your sense of curiosity and an open mind so you’re ready to try the best local snacks and dishes the continent serves up.
These are some of the best foods to try on your next trip to Latin America.
1. Ceviche in Peru
Ceviche is one of the most popular Latin American dishes that you can find across the coastal areas of South and Central America. Each country has its own take on the raw fish dish, but none do it quite like Peru, where this dish got its start. Peruvian ceviche is usually made of fresh, raw seafood (usually a white fish) that is cured in citrus juice. The fish is usually mixed with chili for kick and garnished with onion and coriander or cilantro.
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2. Empanadas in Argentina
A pocket of pastry filled with tasty savoury fillings – what’s not to love about the humble empanada? The crunchy half-moon pastry is common in Argentina where you can find them filled with cheese, meat or vegetables. Each region has its own signature flavour and this South American street food snack makes for a great afternoon pick-up.
3. Coxinhas in Brazil
When hunger strikes in Brazil, look for coxinhas to cure your hunger pangs. This tear-drop-shaped fried snack has pulled chicken at the very centre, wrapped in a layer of dough and dusted with bread crumbs.
4. Steak in Argentina, Uruguay or Brazil
South American beef is so highly regarded that the meat is frequently shipped across the globe and found in supermarkets and restaurants in Europe, Asia and Australia. While exploring South American cuisine, treat yourself to a meal out and try a bife de lomo with chimichurri in Argentina or salty picanha in Brazil.
5. Arepas in Venezuela or Colombia
Arepas is one of the best foods to try in Latin America. A flatbread-like sandwich made from corn maize dough, you’ll find them filled with everything from cheese to meat to eggs. Simple arepas from Colombia make for a great snack, while heartier ones like those from Venezuela often come filled with meat, beans, avocado, egg and more.
6. Açai bowl in Brazil
On a hot humid day in Brazil, nothing is better than an icy açai bowl. This popular and healthy Latin American dish combines rich, deep-purple açaí berry pulp with banana and fruits. The frozen mixture tastes like dark berries mixed with cacao. The bowls are topped usually with some sliced fruit and sometimes a sprinkle of granola, shaved coconut, seeds and nuts. Low in calories and highly refreshing, it’s the ultimate summer seaside treat.
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7. Anticuchos in Bolivia
Eating street food is the best way to get to know South American cuisine. Anticuchos is a food to try in Latin America that is native to Bolivia and Peru. Typically you’ll receive a bowl with strips of grilled beef heart or beef heart kebabs cooked over the grill and served with potatoes and aji sauce. The meat will have been marinated in a mix of chili, garlic, cumin, vinegar, salt and pepper.
8. Gallo pinto in Costa Rica
Beans are a big staple in South American cuisine and in Costa Rica you’ll enjoy them in a common dish called gallo pinto. This hearty combination of rice, beans and a traditional seasoning called lizano will fill you up and give you the energy to explore stunning Costa Rica.
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9. Pastel de choclo in Chile
The name means “corn cake” but this Chilean dish isn’t cake. This food to try in Latin American is actually more like a tasty, rich meat casserole. It’s always topped with a corn crust and sometimes finished with sliced boiled eggs and a light topping of sugar. Comfort food at its best!
Which food are you most keen to try in Latin American? Tell us which South American food excites you the most in the comments below…