When it comes to culinary influences, no country is turned away from the South American table. Take a pinch here, a tablespoon there and stir in a bunch of flavours from around the world. Hey France, we love your croissants, so we’re gonna make them thicker and call them cachitos. Hey China, your fried rice tastes great. How about we throw in some quiona and call it arroz chaifa? In fact, we might just take a bunch of your ideas, fuse them with ours and call the whole movement “chifa”. From feijoada in Brazil to ceviche in Peru, South American food is not just an accompaniment - it’s the main event.
The amazing food and wine of Argentina
South America's signature dishes
Bolivia - Salteña
Oven baked breakfast pastries, somewhat like an empanada. The pastry is sweet, but the inside is oozing with a spicy broth and savoury meat and vegetable.
Brazil – Feijoada
A hearty meat and black bean stew. Slow-cooked served with rice, sautéed greens, orange slices. Topped with pickled malagueta peppers and faraofa.
Chile – Humitas
Mashed corn, onion, garlic basil and butter wrapped in cornhusks and steamed. Served with fresh tomatoes, chillies, salt, olive oil and paprika.
Colombia - Bandeja Paisa
Huge platter of ground beef, pork crackling, black pudding and chorizo served with rice, red beans, a fried egg, sliced avocado and plantain chips.
Ecuador – Cuy
Guinea pig is often cooked on an open spit. There isn’t much meat but the crispy skin is delicious, and locals also tuck into the small, crunchy paws and creamy brains.
Guyana – Metemgee
A Guyanese Creole stew made from dumplings, yam, potatoes, cassava, plantains and okra surrounded by a peppery coconut milk sauce.
Peru – Ceviche
Freshly caught fish “cooked” in a marinade of lime juice, chili peppers, red onion and salt. Serve with avocado, sweet potato, lettuce or corn and you’ve got Peru’s favourite dish.
Uruguay – Chivito
A sandwich loaded with ham, bacon, steak, cheese, mayonnaise, bacon, olives and a fried egg. Anthony Bourdain has proclaimed it as, “the best sandwich I’ve tasted in my life”.
Top 5 places to eat and drink in South America
5 best pisco bars in Lima
- Cala - Avenida Circuito Vial Costa Verde; Playa Barranquito
Try an inventive twist on the classic pisco, then sit back and watch the surfers do their thing.
- Restaurant Hait Miraflores - Diagonal 160, Miraflores
A little bit touristy but a fabulous place to people-watch, thanks to a prime sidewalk position.
- Bar Juanito - Avenida Grau 270, Barranco, Lima
Iconic bohemian bar favoured by artists, poets and musicians in the ‘70s, recently reopened to a raucous reception by locals.
- La Rosa Nautica - Espigon 4 beach circuit, Miraflores
Jutting out from the edge of the historic pier, this is one of the best spots in Lima to sit and sip.
- Antigua Taberna Queirolo - Avenida San Martin 1090, Pueblo Libre
One of Lima’s oldest restaurants. Order a res complete (a bottle of pisco, a bottle of 7 Up or Canada Dry, sliced limes and a bucket of ice) and spend an afternoon among the locals.
5 best steaks in Buenos Aires
- Don Julio - Guatemala 4699, 1425 Buenos Aires
There’s no doubt this is one of the best - a popular, traditional parilla where you can watch the chefs at work.
- La Carniceria - Thames 2319, Palermo Soho
Sleek, modern, new kid on the block puts a contemporary spin on classic steak dishes.
- Social la Lechuza - Uriarte 1980, Palermo Soho
A great alternative to the hip Palermo parillas, you’ll get well-priced steak in a fun, laidback atmosphere.
- Parrilla Peña - Rodriguez Peña 682, Recoleta/Congreso
Step back in time, and try the traditional 4-hour dinner parilla at this simple, unpretentious and authentic parilla.
- Steaks by Luis - Malabia 1308, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Reservations essential for this private, 5-course asado prepared and cooked by Luis, a traditional asador.
5 best empanada joints in Santiago
- Empanadas Zunino - 801 Bridge, San Pablo
This busy hole-in-the-wall has been around since the 1930s. Buy a ticket and choose from meat or cheese. Located south of the fish market.
- Doña Tina - Camino Los Refugios del Arrayán 15125, Lo Barenechea
Head out of the city for this rustic family-run place nestled in the foothills of the Andes.
- Empanadas Las Hermanas - Tagus River 8361, Las Condes
Tricky to find but worth it purely for the thin, flaky crust and the variety of flavours (oyster, anyone?).
- Empanadas Paula A - Los Militares 6946, Las Condes
Take a seat out the front and let the gooey cheese filling ooze down your chin.
- La Casa de Don Benito - Camino Lonquen Norte, Paradero 16, Calera de Tango
So it’s about half an hour from Santiago, but when you claim to have the best empanadas in town it’s worth the trek.
5 best bars in Rio
- Bar Jobi - Rua Ataulfo de Paiva 1166, Leblon
Somewhat of an institution, and home of the most refreshing chopp (draught beer) you’ll ever taste.
- Bar Urca - Rua Cândido Gaffree, 205, Rio de Janeiro
Pick a spot along the seawall and look over the water to Christ the Redeemer.
- Bar do Gomez - Rua Áurea 26, Santa Teresa
In 1919 this was a grocery store, and still boasts dusty wares on the shelves. Charming, authentic and filled with locals.
- Melt Bar - Rua Rita Ludolf, 47 Leblon
Samba on the dancefloor and caipiroskas at the bar. The chic interior is all New York while the atmosphere is 100% Brazil.
- Devassa – Rua Prudente de Moraes, 416, Rio de Janeiro
A block from the beach, this place sells its own brand of beers. Choose from Loura, Ruiva, and Negra (Blonde, Redhead or Brunette).