Are you a curious wanderer looking for the best food experiences in Latin America? Then you don’t want to miss this article! Here, you can explore the vibrant Latin American food scene without ever leaving your chair. We’ll offer an in-depth tour of some local favorites that you don’t want to miss, including the most popular street foods for you to try on your next adventure south of the border.
– What Latin American Street Foods to Try
Latin American cuisine is known for its vibrant colors and bold flavors, and its vibrant street food culture is no different. From spicy tacos and quesadillas to slow-cooked pupusas and empanadas, here are some of the must-try Latin American street foods you’ll encounter on your next trip.
- Tacos: A classic Mexican street food, tacos come in all shapes and sizes. Soft tacos made with corn tortillas are filled with flavorful meats and topped with cabbage, salsa, and other delicious sauces.
- Quesadillas: Another basic Mexican street food, quesadillas are made with a flour tortilla and cheese, which is then lightly grilled or steamed. Quesadillas are often topped with guacamole, sour cream, and other sauces.
- Pupusas: Originating in El Salvador, pupusas are a type of flatbread made with corn or rice flour. They’re typically filled with cheese, meat, and vegetables and served with a fiery hot sauce.
- Empanadas: Empanadas are popular in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. This baked pastry is usually filled with spiced meats, potatoes, plantains, and cheese.
No matter where you travel in Latin America, you’re sure to find an array of delicious street foods just waiting to be savored. From tacos and pupusas to empanadas and quesadillas, you’ll find something to suit every taste.
- Exploring the Refreshing Flavors of Latin America
Venture into the diverse streets of Latin America to explore a world of flavorful delights. From the bustling markets and iconic eateries, to the hodgepodge of street food vendors, this region is sure to tantalize the taste buds. Taking a tour of Latin America’s delicious street food culture is a must for all foodies traveling to this region. Here are some of the classic delicacies that make the Latin American foodscape so vibrant.
1. Arepas – Arepas are a type of flatbread, made from cornmeal or flour, and filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, eggs, and other succulent ingredients. Depending on the region, arepas can be served either sweet or savory, making it a versatile and filling choice. They are found in many Latin American countries, but this delicious specialty is especially popular in Colombia.
2. Ceviche – Ceviche is a classic dish of fish and seafood mixed together with herbs, vegetables, and citrus. This tantalizing combination of flavors is popular up and down Latin America, although the ingredients and techniques may vary across different countries. From Ecuadorian ceviche mixto to refreshing Peruvian ceviche, this Latin American delight is not to be missed.
3. Chimichurri – Chimichurri is a delicious sauce made from a combination of herbs and spices such as oregano, garlic, red chili peppers, and olive oil. It is a popular condiment in many Latin American countries, and it is often served alongside grilled meats and vegetables. This tangy and herby sauce is sure to add an extra kick of flavor to any dish.
4. Empanadas – Empanadas are one of Latin America’s most beloved street foods. They are flaky, savory pastries made with dough and filled with a variety of ingredients such as beef, chicken, vegetables, and cheese. Empanadas are typically served with a side of chimichurri, making it the perfect quick and tasty snack.
5. Elote – Elote is a Mexican dish of sweet corn boiled, grilled, or cooked on an open fire. It is always served on the cob, and is typically covered in a mixture of lime juice, chili powder, and mayonnaise. This simple but delicious snack can be found in many of Latin America’s outdoor markets
As you venture on your Latin American journey, remember to make room for these delicious street foods. Not only do they make a great snack, but they also provide a glimpse into the rich food culture of this vibrant region. A trip to Latin America wouldn’t be complete without a sampling of its street foods, so don’t forget to stop and try the classic dishes that make this area so special.
– Where to Find Authentic Latin American Street Foods
1. Mexico - Tacos, Quesadillas and More
Take a virtual tour of the Latin American street food staples with a trip to Mexico. Tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, enchiladas, and tamales – each of these may vary from region to region, with additional chorizo, pork, beef, or seafood used in the fillings. Flour and corn tortillas are both found here, with either traditional or contemporary toppings. Street snacks like gorditas, pambazos, and churros add a pop of sweetness and make the perfect treat for a stroll.
2. Chile - Empanadas Galore
Heading down the coast to Chile, the ubiquitous empanada is the star of street food here. Choose from a beef, chicken, ham, cheese or spinach fillings, wrapped up in either a cornmeal or pastry dough and deep-fried or baked. Other typical snacks here include anticuchos (barbecued beef hearts), completos (hot dogs with every toppings you can imagine), and pastel de choclo (a thick corn casserole of beef, egg, olives, and onions).
3. Colombia – Arepas and Mote
Venture South to Colombia and try two staples: arepas and mote. Arepas are flatbreads usually filled with cheese, butter, tomatoes, and avocado, while mote is a soup - a mix of potatoes, corn, and chorizo. Other Colombian classics to enjoy include buñuelos (fried, savoury corn fritters), changua (cheesy milk and egg soup), and a sweet treat of pandebono (sweet cheese bread).
4. Peru - Ceviche and Lomo Saltado
Now onto Peru and its bounty of seafood street foods.
The national dish – Ceviche – is a citrus-cooked salad made of fish, tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, and peppers, while Lomo Saltado is stir-fried steak with onions, tomatoes, and chillies over fries. Another must-try here is the classic tamale, a heavy-duty corn meal or rice-based pouch stuffed with beef or pork, olives, and potatoes.
5. Argentina – Choripán and Alfajores
For a meat feast, make your way down to Argentina and sample choripán - grilled sausages served in a crispy roll with chimichurri - a spicy condiment of oregano, garlic, parsley, and chilli. Alternatively, bite into a moreish alfajor – a sandwich cookie made of two shortbread-like biscuits filled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with coconut.
– How Street Foods Vary in Different Latin American Countries
Mexican street food is as diverse as its culture and levels of regional gastronomy. A visit to Mexican streets is often filled with quick and delicious snacks like tacos, tortas, popular snacks such as popcorn, churros, and elotes. Another must-try Mexican street snack is the taco al pastor, a dish that is created simply by grilling meat, seasoning it, and loading it onto a different variety of tacos. Other snacks include sopes, gorditas, tlacoyos, and quesadillas. Not to be forgotten is the ever-popular tamales – a steamed dough filled with savory fillings like beef, chicken, or pork.
Colombian street food culture is all about freshness and spontaneity. Pastry shops line streets, and stalls where vendors prepare traditional dishes like empanadas, arepas, deep-fried arepas, and longanizas – hearty sausages – can be found throughout the country. Other popular snacks are street-style burgers, which have recently gained popularity in Colombia. Patacones, a type of fried plantain, is also a popular street food.
Argentinean street food culture is well-known due to its chicanes, or sandwich stands, that dot the streets of Buenos Aires. A popular snack at these stands is the lomito, a sandwich made with a variation of meats such as calabresa, hanguilla, and mortadela and complemented with sauces, vegetables and other condiments. Choripanes, a sausage sandwich, is also a popular street food in Argentina, and sandwiches called chivitos, milanesas, and pork sandwiches are other typical snacks. Also popular are mollejas (sweetbreads or liver), chinchulines (small intestines), and empanadas.
In Peru, the streets are packed with vendors selling regional snacks like picarones, made from dough with pumpkin and sweet potato, and churros, which are deep-fried pastries. Other savory snacks like ceviche, a traditional dish of raw seafood marinated in lime juice, can also be found in many stalls and marketplaces. As Peru is famous for its criollo cuisine, a variety of Peruvian dishes such as empanadas, tamales, and anticuchos can be found on the streets.
Chilean street food culture is heavily influenced by the Spanish. Most of the snacks served on the street are fried, from croquetas, chaufas, and empanadillas to sweet bollos, a pastry made with a sweet crumbly pastry and filled with a variety of fillings. Tortillas, sopaipillas, sandwiches and burgers, called completos, are also popular snacks on the streets of Chile.
The streets of Bolivia teem with street food vendors offering a range of snacks and dishes. Particular favorites include salteñas, which are pastries filled with beef and vegetables, and its lesser-known cousin, the phraseña. Other popular snacks are anticuchos, which are skewered chunks of beef heart cooked on a barbecue, and locro, a hearty stew made with potato, cheese, corn, and chorizo. Empanadas, tamales, and humitas are also must-try Bolivian street snacks.
– Tastes and Textures on the Streets of Latin America
Argentina: From choripán to pizzas chicchichón to empanadas, the streets of Argentina are abuzz with hungry patrons looking to satisfy their craving for flavors and textures of Latin American-style street food. Choripán is a grilled sausage sandwich topped with chimichurri sauce, while pizzas chicchichón are mini-sized flatbreads fried with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Empanadas, equally popular, are pastries filled with beef, chicken, cheese, corn, and other ingredients.
Brazil: Brazil offers a sweet selection of street food, from egg tarts to filled with queijo coalho to coxinhas. Egg tarts, typically eaten as a snack, are crisp, flaky pastries with a creamy custard filling. Queijo coalho is fried cheese that can either be plain or filled with ground beef, ham, or vegetables. Coxinhas are deep-fried dough pockets shaped like chicken legs, filled with chicken, cream cheese, and vegetables.
Colombia: Venders on the streets of Colombia offer an array of traditional treats such as papa rellena, salpicón, and buñuelos. Papa rellena is a deep-fried potato ball filled with beef or cheese, while salpicón is a type of salad made with chopped beef, tomato, pepper, onion, and plantain. Buñuelos, a popular dessert, are fried dough balls coated in syrup and topped with cheese, and can be stuffed with cheese, sweet potato, or other fillings.
Mexico: Those trawling the streets of Mexico will discover a treasure trove of delicious street foods, including tacos al pastor, tortas, and nieves. Tacos al pastor is a taco variant made with layers of pork marinated in a variety of spices — perfect for those craving grilled meat. Tortas are like sandwiches, but much larger and stuffed with refried beans, cheese, and a variety of meats. Nieves is a traditional fruit sorbet made with tropical fruits such as watermelon, mango, and pineapple — ideal for hot afternoons.
Venezuela: Rounding out the list of Latin American street foods is Pabellon Criollo from Venezuela. Pabellon Criollo is a popular dish of rice, black beans, and beef or chicken, with accompaniments of plantains, cheese, and avocados. Different regions have their own take on this classic, so each Pabellon Criollo you taste is likely to be unique and have its own subtle flavors.
– Tips for Trying Street Foods in Latin America
1. Public Food Markets: Latin America is widely known for its vibrant street food culture, particularly in the largest cities such as Mexico City. One of the best places to start your culinary journey is in the public food markets, often found on the chaotic outskirts of town. Here, you can browse an array of street food carts and stalls, each offering a unique range of regional specialities. From freshly cooked tacos and empanadas, to spicy salsas and sweet churros – you never quite know what you’ll find.
2. Street Food Vendors: In addition to the public food markets, there are plenty of convenient food vendors on the streets of Latin America. Many of these serve Latin-style sandwiches, tacos and empanadas, but some are known for their exotic dishes. Whether you’re looking for authentic ceviche, a unique plantain dish or anything in between – you’ll find plenty of deliciously unique street food options to suit your tastes.
3. Recommended Tips:
- Always check that the food is freshly cooked and as hot as possible.
- Always ask for sauces and condiments to add more flavour.
- Always wash your hands before and after eating to avoid getting sick.
- Always ask the vendors questions about dish ingredients and methods of preparation.
- Always pay close attention to the food carts and stalls – look for long lines or crowds of people.
4. Consider Local Cuisine: Regardless of where you travel in Latin America, make sure you try the local cuisine. Each country has its own specialities and dishes, from traditional meals like tamales in Mexico to appetising offerings like salchipapas in Peru – there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to sample the regional specialities – you won’t regret it.
5. Safety and Hygiene: As with any street food experience, safety should be your top priority. Carefully examine the food you are purchasing to ensure it looks and smells fresh. Street carts and stalls may look dishevelled, but the vendors are likely knowledgeable and experienced in preparing their dishes. Always follow safety and hygiene precautions when trying new street foods and double-check any raw ingredients.
– Cultural Experiences as You Eat in Latin American Cities
Mexican pambazos are oversized Mexican sandwiches made with thick, white bread and served with garlic sauce, lettuce, and spices. A favorite from the Mexican culture, they provide a full, flavorful experience with every bite!
Tacos de Canasta
Tacos de Canasta, also known as “basket tacos,” are one of the most popular street foods in Latin American culture. These tacos are made with a corn or wheat tortilla stuffed with potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. They often come with a spicy sauce and are a great way to add a little Latin flavor to your meal.
Empanadas are delicious pastries filled with all sorts of savory ingredients. These little pockets of yumminess come in different shapes and sizes, but the most common ones feature a savory filling of beef, chicken, fish, or vegetables. Empanadas are perfect for a quick snack or lunch on the go!
Chicharrón is a popular Latin American snack food made from fried pork rinds. It may also be made from chicken, beef, or fish. Chicharrón is a crunchy and savory snack, perfect for accompanying a beer or adding a unique flavor to a meal. Plus, it’s a great source of protein!
Chimichurri is a popular sauce in Latin American cuisine made with herbs, spices, vinegar, and olive oil. It’s great for seasoning steak, chicken, fish, and other dishes. The herbs and spices used vary, but the classic chimichurri features cilantro, oregano, garlic, and red pepper. It’s the perfect condiment to add a little kick to your meal!
Ceviche is a traditional Latin American seafood dish made with raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juices and spices. It’s a great way to enjoy the freshest seafood, as the citrus juices “cook” the fish, while imparting a unique flavor. Ceviche is typically served with crackers or chips and is perfect for a light meal or snack.
Q: What is Latin American Street Food?
A: Latin American Street food is a variety of snacks and dishes that are enjoyed in countries around the Latin America region.
Q: What types of dishes are available?
A: Common Latin American Street food dishes are tacos, arepas, empanadas, tamales, and ceviche.
Q: Is there a price difference between street food and restaurant food?
A: Yes, usually street food is more affordable than restaurant food.
Q: Where can I find street food?
A: Street vendors, markets, and small cafes are usually the best places to find street food.
Q: Are street food vendors reliable?
A: Yes, street food vendors are usually reliable as long as you take necessary precautions such as only choosing food that looks and smells fresh.
Q: What safety tips should I consider when selecting street food?
A: Be sure to always choose food that looks and smells fresh. Avoid seafood dishes in areas with poor sanitation. Avoid condiment jars or other open food containers that may have been contaminated.
Q: What are some popular Latin American street food desserts?
A: Popular Latin American street food desserts are churros, flan, alfajores, buñuelos, and alfajoritos.
Q: What are the benefits of eating street food?
A: Eating street food is an inexpensive way to explore a wide range of flavors from different countries and cultures. It can also be a chance to interact with locals and get a sense of the area. So, there you have it: an overview of some of the most popular and delicious Latin American street food. Whether you’re a die-hard foodie or simply looking for a tasty treat, Latin American street food has something to offer. So don your finest walking shoes, grab a stretchy waistband, and go on your very own gastronomic adventure through Latin America!