LIFESTYLE

Best Latin American Cities for Foodies
Latin America is a veritable hotbed of culinary attractions for travelers.

pulpo_argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Though Argentina is known for its beef, Buenos Aires is quickly becoming a top Latin American foodie city. The capital city’s dining scene has recently experienced a new wave of innovative and re-imagined techniques, with influences from around the world breathing new life into traditional Argentinean cuisine. One such fusion style is Argentinean/French cuisine as presented at the esteemed restaurant Chez Nous, located at Algodon Mansion.

Here, a pulpo appetizer from Chez Nous.

(Algodon Mansion)

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Panama City

Panama is influenced by many culinary styles, including Chombo, an Afro-Caribbean culinary style similar to Creole but which also uses Asian and Indian spices, brought by the workers who came from all over the world to build the massive Panama Canal almost a century ago. Chef Cuquita Arias, known as the Martha Stewart of Panama, presides over Barandas Restaurant at the Bristol Panama Hotel in Panama City and is currently in the process of incorporating more Chombo dishes into her menu. In the meantime, her Beef Fillet with “Mojo” Verde and Fried Plantain is a real crowd pleaser.

(Barandas Restaurant at Bristol Panama)

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tim Joseph is not only a foodie but also a travel agent, and one of his favorite cities in the world is San Juan, Puerto Rico. His favorite dishes include Mofongo, a dish of fried garlicky mashed plantains with meat or seafood topped with Creole sauce, arroz con pollo and ceviche. Here's his picture of a market in Condado, a neighborhood in San Juan.

Photo credit: Revitalize Travel

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Tijuana, Mexico

When visitors think of food in Tijuana, it's likely that traditional images of street tacos, mariscos and birria come to mind. While the city is indeed bustling with flavorful quick-serve options, it's also home to a vibrant fine dining scene and the birthplace of Baja Med cuisine, which fuses local ingredients, Mediterranean techniques, and Asian influences all together. Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 is a pioneer of Baja Med and uses locally-sourced ingredients like abalone, arugula, olive oil, and other ingredients that he hunts, fishes, dives, and forages for. Some representative dishes: Camarones rellenos al Romesco -- stuffed bacon-wrapped shrimp with smoked marlin -- giant squid pizza, and marlin carpaccio. 

Photo Credit: Mision 19

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Lima, Peru

Just as the Spanish Conquest made Peru a mixture of the Spanish and the Andean, migrations from different parts of the planet have also influenced Peruvian society and cuisine. Creole, regional Peruvian, nouveau Andean, Chinese, even Japanese all play a part. Travel company Adventure Life runs a tour that focuses on Peruvian cuisine

(Adventure Life)

Fuente_Alemana_01_chile

Santiago, Chile

With an exquisite Mediterranean climate offering a cornucopia of year-round foodstuffs from lush produce to abundant seafood, artisan cheeses, local grown olive oils, and plentiful wines, Santiago is a cook's dream. This cosmopolitan city has hundreds of fresh markets every week and restaurants from sophisticated molecular cuisine using indigenous ingredients to local picadas, joints, to dig into homey Chilean cuisine, driven by the pristine element.  Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences, owned by American Chef & Wine Expert Liz Caskeytakes guests into local markets & wineries on their culinary tours.

The photo shows the Santiago institution called Fuente Alemana, where Caskey takes visitors on tours, including Anthony Bourdain when he visited and she helped to produce his show, No Reservations in Chile.

(Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences)

PalacioDonaLeonor_guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Frequent traveler and photographer Dave Dudar -- a/k/a Dave with a Beard -- just got back from Antigua, Guatemala, and was blown away at what a great restaurant city it has become. A few examples: Meson Panza Verde, with Swiss chef in tow, presents noteworthy European fare in a space that looks like what a B&B designed by the Phantom of the Opera might resemble. Don Martin serves up Green Mango Salad and Tenderloin on one side and Guatemalan Caldo and Pepian on the other.

This photo shows the restaurant in the courtyard at the Palacio de Dona Leonor in Antigua. 

Photo credit: David Dudar Photography 

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tricia Chaves is originally from the U.S., but has lived in Rio de Janeiro for more than two years, and loves the fact that it's definitely a foodie city. She has learned how to prepare traditional foods at home for Carnaval as well as how to farm organically. Here she is with friends Paola Provenzano and Joao Marcelo at a Festa Junina party in June, enjoying a pastel, fried dough filled with ground beef.

Photo credit: Tricia Chaves

Best Latin American Cities for Foodies

Latin America is a veritable hotbed of culinary attractions for travelers.