Latin America’s Essential Eats 2013

By ExtremeFoodies on September 7th, 2013

ExtremeFoodies celebrated Latin America’s greatest dishes at its first Annual Latin American Awards in Lima, Peru on Sept 6th, 2013. The event was at the La Mar Cebicheria, one of Lima’s most beautiful and praiseworthy restaurants in the heart of the picturesque Miraflores District. The awards were attended by local foodies, press and ExtremeFoodies’s all-star line-up of Latin America’s finest food experts. The experts hailed from Buenos Aires, Rio de Janerio, Mexico City, Panama City, Santo Domingo and Bogota, just to name a few.

The winners are: 

Pastel de Choclo - Divertimento


Chile's corn pie is the country's pride, made only during the summer months when the special, savoury corn is in season. Like a shepherd's pie, a ground beef base is tinged with cumin, onions, golden raisins, black olives and studded with hard-boiled eggs and chicken. On top, a creamy corn-basil puree is baked to perfection. Mmm...

Arepa Reina Pepiada - Franca


The arepa is a cornerstone of Venezuelan cuisine with a fantastic history based on a Venezuelan beauty queen (see our video). When fried, the corn dough becomes crunchy on the outside but remains soft on the inside and is stuffed with all variety of ingredients. “Reina Pepiada” is filled with chicken, onion, mayonnaise, petit pois and avocado. The parsley topped beauty from Franca is sensational.

Bolinhos de Feijoada - Aconchego Carioca


Feijoada is the closest thing Brazil has to a national dish – a rich, heavy stew of black beans, salted beef, pork and sliced sausages, served with shredded collard greens, crispy pork rind and zingy slices of orange to lighten the load. It was Kátia Barbosa, the chef and owner of once-humble restaurant Aconchego Carioca, who found a way to encapsulate the complexities of that meal into a single bite. A thick dough of black beans, enriched with pork and beef, is shaped around a stuffing of crispy bacon and finely shredded collard greens. The finished masterpiece is served with crunchy pork rinds and a mini caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime). 

Empanada - Las Margaritas


Las Margaritas, one of Bogotá's oldest restaurants, has gained a reputation for having the best empanadas in Bogotá. Made entirely in-house, the filling consists of mashed peas, ground beef and rice. The outside is hand-selected corn, milled and fried until crisp.

Ceviche de Lenguado y Pulpo - Chez Wong 


Ceviche is such a point of pride in Peru that it has its own national holiday, June 28. Javier Wong, the chef/owner of Chez Wong in Lima, is considered a master of ceviche. His restaurant, far from fancy, is in one room of his house, in the rough and tumble district of La Victoria. There’s no menu, substitutions or alterations. You get what is served. Still, diners reserve months in advance for one of seven tables at Wong’s, proof that with the right ingredients and techniques, a classic recipe from a simple place can be as powerful and tasty as food from the world’s most expensive restaurants.

Tacos al Pastor - El Huequito


Tacos al Pastor, the Mexican version of shawarma, is perhaps the only dish directly associated with the capital. El Huequito (which means “hole-in-the-wall”) has been in business in this spot since 1959. Thinly sliced pork, previously marinated in a complex chile-based sauce, is roasted on a spit, sliced off, topped with chopped onion and coriander, and rolled up in a warm corn tortilla. The meat is juicy and succulent, with a smoky grilled aroma that lingers like a good dream.

Fugazetta - La Mezzetta


Fugazzeta is one of the country’s many Italian influenced dishes. The double-crusted cheese, onion and oregano pie is something truly special. Flavorful, rich mozzarella and provolone dress a crispy, almost caramelized crust on the bottom, while the sugary crunch of onions and pungent oregano work together to create a delicious slice of sin. If you are looking for the perfect slice of fugazzetta, head to La Mezzetta. This standing-room-only, hole-in-the-wall pizzeria in the Chacarita neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is crowded with locals, taxi drivers and lovers of grilled cheese and onion pizza world-wide.