For years, Oaxaca has been jostling against Mexico City for culinary recognition, and is now finally nudging its way into the gastronomic spotlight. With rich, complex food combinations that are equally easy on the eye as they are on the palate, the food here includes tlayuda, crunchy tortillas with beans or mole with optional toppings and memelas, substantial corn tortillas with beans, cheese, and meat. Origen does a superb take on street food, transforming traditional Oaxaca cuisine into moreish gourmet versions.
Origen, Av. Hidalgo 820, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico, +52 951 501 1764
Mexico City, Mexico
Yet while Oaxaca has certainly been critically-acclaimed on the gastronomic scene, no-one is taking anything away from Mexico City. With everything from street food that’s been culturally recognised as part of the country’s UNESCO cultural heritage, through to Michelin star restaurants, foodies will be in their element here while browsing street corners and the high-end venues for some of the country’s best food. Look out for the multifaceted take on the humble taco and don’t miss the pambazos, a chilli-dipped bread. For the best restaurants in the city, try Pujol or Dulce Patria, two of Mexico City’s best restaurants.
Lima has long been a foodie destination in Latin America and yet despite its persistent influence on the global gastronomic scene, it’s only now that it’s beginning to get the recognition it deserves. For those who don’t know much about Peruvian cuisine, the food is a dazzling amalgam of flavours that draw from the country’s indigenous (Inca) roots, with heavy splashes of culinary efforts from Japan, China, Italy, and Spain. This culinary fusion has created flavours unlike anywhere else, with quail eggs in a hot sauce, quinoa, ceviche (raw fish), and anticucho beef heart as permanent features on the Peruvian menu. A handful of world-class restaurants are breaking onto the scene such as Central and Astrid y Gaston.
Central, Santa Isabel 376. Miraflores, Lima, Peru, +51 1241 6721
Astrid y Gaston, Av. Paz Soldan 290, San Isidro, Peru, +51 1 4422 777
São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo keeps itself above Brazil’s other big cities with Michelin star restaurants such as D.O.M. The chef of D.O.M., Alex Atala, is famed for his relentless efforts to keep his menu inspired by local ingredients and brings the gems of the Amazon rainforest to the delighted diner’s table. Being a city with the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, it’s little wonder why São Paulo has some of the best ramen and sushi this side of the planet with restaurants such as Aizomê serving incredible sushi options. Alternatively, head to the neighbourhood Liberdade for authentic, Japanese food. The heavy influence of Italian immigration has also given rise to pizzas worthy of an Italian stamp, such as the ones at Bráz.
D.O.M., R. Barão de Capanema, 549 – Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3088 0761
Bráz Pizzaria, R. Graúna, 125 – Vila Uberabinha, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 5561 0905
José Ignacio, Uruguay
One for the intrepid traveller, the town of José Ignacio largely slips under the radar in terms of its culinary contribution to the world, yet it has been garnering attention in recent times. The cuisine comprises simple dishes that simultaneously embrace a swathe of culinary traditions from indigenous, Spanish, and Portuguese roots. Don’t miss the famous asado (Uruguayan barbecue) in this chic town, and save room for the chivito, a sandwich stacked with steak, ham, cheese, tomato, and lettuce. One of the hottest restaurants there right now is La Huella.
Buenos Aires is an established player in the Latin America realm of gastronomy, yet Argentina has so many other spots that are worthy of a mention on any foodie list – such as Mendoza. The Argentinian cuisine here is not to be sniffed at, with gems such as mouthwatering beef served with pools of chimichurri sauce, beef and chicken Milanesa – think schnitzels – as well as the famous empanadas, tamales, and gelatos that would make an Italian city proud, and of course, the wine. Mendoza is wine central of Latin America with its famous Malbec. For a great restaurant to enjoy traditional food from Argentina accompanied by some wine for the soul, try Azafran Restaurant.
Azafran Restaurant, Av. Sarmiento 765, Mendoza, Argentina, +54 261 429 4200
The culinary fusion of Spanish and indigenous flavours, coupled with some of the best wine in the world, makes Santiago a hotspot for any foodie travelling in Latin America. From aijaco (a type of Chilean stew) to beef rib empanadas and pastel de choclo (a pie with corn, egg, olives and ground beef or chicken), all tastes and preferences are catered for in Santiago. Yet while the restaurants serve up gourmet and sophisticated options, the real joy is in browsing Mercado Central, an Art Nouveau market that has a ton of fresh and delicious seafood, or roaming around the stalls of La Vega market replete with exotic fruits and vegetables.