I’ve complained before that South America was not really the culinary paradise that Asia was. Most of our meals were pretty repetitive versions of rice, chicken, shrimp or beef steak. There were some culinary highlights though. Here are my faves:
Top 5 Meals
Quito, Ecuador: Baalbek
We were originally trying to hunt down a Vietnamese restaurant I’d read about on TripAdvisor when we stumbled on Lebanese instead. The spacious restaurant was empty for lunch and the owner himself came out to greet us. When he heard I was from DC he asked if I’d been to Lebanese Taverna, which is actually about half a mile from my house and a favorite restaurant of my mom.
As we sat and chatted delicacy after delicacy came out: tabbuleh, falafels, kafta, grape leaves and hummus (hummus may be my favorite food of all time). It was such a nice break from chicken and rice, and delicious in it’s own right.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Cabrera
We loved this place so much that we went three times! We were first introduced by Meg and Tony of Landing Standing, who told us about the restaurants popular happy hour special: if you arrive at 7pm, you can eat for half price. Everything on the menu half price- it has to be one of the best deals in town.
La Cabrera is a traditional Argentine steak house, and it serves up enormous cuts of meat with no fanfare. The bife de chorizo smothered in blue cheese was a favorite. Thank goodness we have good travel insurance, because we always left here on the verge of a meat coma.
Montevideo, Uruguay: Parilla in the Central Market
Argentina is famous for it’s meat but the barbeque in Uruguay manages to be even more extraordinary. With some new friends from our hostel we headed to Montevideo’s Central Market (Bourdain went there so we knew it would be good). We sat down at one of the many open air grill restaurants and ordered a parilla, a selection of grilled meats. What we received was the largest, most delicious pile of cow and pig parts ever. No veggies needed.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Cocina Sunae
Another find from my food gurus Meg and Tony, this was a closed door secret restaurant in a remote part of the city. They served delicious South East Asian food. If I were back in Buenos Aires for a weekend I would make it a priority to visit again.
Santiago, Chile: Zabo
I’m only a recent sushi convert but I can recognize quality when I see it. Zabo was the real deal, with super fresh fish and creative yet delicious rolls. We went twice during our week in Santiago and made it our last meal in South America.
Bogota, Colombia: Chocolate con Queso
When I tell people about this local specialty they either think it’s brilliant, or totally gross. Soft squares of cheese melted in very rich hot chocolate. I obviously fell on the side of brilliant.
Rosario, Argentina: Ice Cream
Argentinean ice cream has no match anywhere, and for us at least Rosario was the top of the heap.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Key Lime Pie at Cocina Sunae
Yes, I’m bringing this place up twice. The main meal was amazing but the key lime pie was just… it was to die for.