Latin America’s Essential Eats 2014

By ExtremeFoodies on September 7th, 2014

ExtremeFoodies, the organization that recognizes the best in casual dining and street food worldwide, announced the winners of the hotly anticipated Latin America's Tastiest Fast Feasts Awards 2014 at Astrid & Gastón Casa Moreyra in Lima. The awards revealed a list of the best dishes in Latin America as selected by experts from key cities across the continent including Rio de Janerio, Mexico City, Santiago, Bogota and Curico. A team of hand- picked passionate food guides, writers and experts, were asked to nominate the must-try dishes in their city, considering the quality of ingredients, local relevance, history and flavor.

The eight categories for Latin America were: pastry/empanada, meat, tamales, vegetarian/cheese, soup, sandwiches, sweets and regional specialities. The winners, listed below, moved forward to the global awards, which took place in London in spring 2015.

The winners are:

Mortadella Sandwich - Hocca Bar


Portuguese immigrants Horácio Gabriel and his wife, Maria, opened the Hocca Bar in 1952 at Mercado Municipal in San Paulo, where they continue to live up to their slogan, “O famoso é aqui,” THE FAMOUS IS HERE. Their mortadella sandwich is a gigantic half-pounder stuffed with Ceratti mortadella, an explosion of beef, bacon and spicy black pepper with pockets of fat to capture the flavor. Aptly named “Belíssima,” the sandwich is stacked four inches thick with multiple layers of cheese balanced with a dried tomato sauce preserved in olive oil and topped with oregano. This blend is then shoved into an Italian loaf and cut in half. Delighted diners slather on the available molho do pimenta, a creamy yellow hot sauce, to complete this gastronomic indulgence. This amazing sandwich is ExtremeFoodies's tastiest sandwich in Latin America for 2014.

Tamales - Lupita & Clemencia Alonso


Lupita and Clemencia Alonso reign as the “queens of street food” in the small town of Texcalyacac, about an hour south of Mexico City. Whether their tamales are filled with chicken or pork with spiky red or green salsa, they are always memorable. Local yellow corn ground whole and soaked in lime is whipped by hand with pork lard. Wrapped in a corn husk and steamed, the dough turns into a pillow of soft masa with an inner core of spicy meat.

Anticuchos de Corazon - Tia Grimanesa


Tia Grimanesa, otherwise known as Tia Grima or Doña Grimanesa, began serving anticuchos from a street corner in Lima three decades ago. The popular snack features tender beef hearts marinated in dried chili pepper, garlic, cumin, vinegar, salt and pepper. Quickly grilled, the kebabs are so tender they resemble filet mignon. She now sells her kebabs in a storefront in Miraflores, where she continues to serve this authentic dish with boiled corn, potatoes and aji sauces to adjust the spicy heat.

Provoleta - La Brigada


Enter the soccer themed traditional Argentine steakhouse to feast on grass fed beef so tender the waiters cut it with a spoon. Order your steak with a wild boar chorizo sausage, cheesy provoleta right off the grill, creamy flavorful sweetbreads, and a bottle (or two) of Malbec.

Feijoada Completa - Academia da Cachaca


Feijoada is the national dish of Brazil and here, it is served to perfection. Prepared with black beans, salted pork, smoked pork ribs and two types of smoked sausage, it is cooked over low heat for 24 hours in a thick clay pot. The final dish should have the beans and meat pieces just covered by a dark purplish-brown broth. The taste is both explosive and silky, if that is even possible. Served with rice, kale, fresh oranges and topped with crunchy bread crumbs, this dish should be on every foodie's bucket list.

Empanada Domino - Budares


Venezuelan empanadas are known for the variety of delicious fillings, often mixing several ingredients in one tasty fried package. The empanada dominó, from the Andes region in Venezuela, mixes the rich taste of black beans common in Venezuela with white grated cheese for a satisfying, filling, vegetarian alternative to the typical Colombian empanada. When you bite into this empanada, you'll see why the black beans with dots of white cheese make “domino” an appropriate name. Budares, owned by Venezuelans, is one of the few places you'll get the chance to try this taste of Venezuela in the Colombian capital.

Birria de Chivo - El Rincon del Oso


Birria de chivo, known as a hangover cure throughout Mexico, is a hearty stew of goat originating in the state of Jalisco. It’s marinated in a base of chilies and spiced with garlic, marjoram, Mexican oregano, cumin, allspice, clove, cinnamon and more. At El Rincon del Oso, located in the Mercado Hidalgo, the rich birria is served with onions, cilantro and lime on the side.

Picarones - Picaroneria Ruinas


Rosa Elvira has been making picarones in her little corner shop for 38 years, and most will agree that the light, crispy sweet potato doughnuts that she and her helpers turn out nightly are the best in the country. The recipe is her mother's, but the style is distinctly Cuscqueño. Nowhere else do the picarones achieve this perfect balance of crunch and chewy, thanks to Rosa's use of yellow sweet potato flour, egg, anise-flavored water, butter and sugar. A drizzle of syrup made from a local molasses called chancaca is the final touch, which makes this a close contender for the tastiest snack in Cusco. Picaroneria Ruinas opens every day, but get in early because later the place is always full.


Having firmly made its mark on the global food scene with its annual award ceremony, ExtremeFoodies is now the go-to guide for travelers in search of the best, hidden, unmissable dishes in the world. The online guide unearths the tastiest "fast feasts" in every key city as selected by the world's most knowledgeable food experts. Fast feasts are defined by ExtremeFoodies as being locally sourced, freshly prepared dishes, served hot on the spot and enjoyed immediately.