The 10 Best Restaurants in South America

The 10 Best Restaurants in South America

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South America has emerged in recent years as a major food destination. Peru, Brazil, and Argentina are the continent's gastronomic capitals, but in recent years, Colombia, Uruguay, and Ecuador have been earning attention of their own.

The Daily Meal recently put together its list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean; from that list, we've drawn the top ten scorers in South America.

The 10 Best Restaurants in South America (Slideshow)

To conduct our research, we consulted industry experts, local food guides, reviews, and listings, and compiled our own knowledge from experiences at restaurants in the different regions. What we ended up with was a short list of 261 restaurants from 28 different countries and regions. This list was then shared with our panel of judges (comprised primarily of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and assorted bloggers from across the globe), who undertook the tough task of selecting their favorites across a broad geographical area. In the interests of accuracy and fairness, panelists were asked only to vote for restaurants where they had eaten within the past 12 months. The voting — based on region, cuisine, and the style of the restaurant (budget, casual/neighborhood, and serious dining/special occasion) — narrowed the list to an honored group of 101. The final list includes a versatile mix of restaurants from different countries whose establishments were nominated.

Leading the list of the best restaurants in South America is Lima, with four restaurants, followed by São Paulo, a close second with three. Though the 10 restaurants here ranked highest on our list, they only represent a small portion of the culinary excellence that can be found throughout South America.

Alexandra E. Petri is the travel editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @writewayaround. Special Contributor Lauren Mack (@lmack) contributed to this story.

#10 Epice (São Paulo)

After working under some of the world’s top chefs, including Gordon Ramsay in London and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, Alberto Landgraf came home to Brazil with a vision: to give authentic Brazilian flavors a modernist makeover. The result is Epice, a cozy, warmly lit restaurant in São Paulo's stylish Jardim Paulista neighborhood where Landgraf practices some serious culinary magic in the kitchen. His tasting menu descriptions are minimalist — dried cassava and cured pork belly, quail egg and fresh seaweed, fried pork ear — but the dishes are intricately fashioned and often brilliant. Landgraf's sense of contrasting flavors and textures is superb, paving the way for Epice’s creative dishes like scallops served with pickled carrot or cubes of cold carrot jelly served with luscious warm carrot purée. The à la carte menu ranges from the seemingly mundane elevated to the gastronomic (a plate of pumpkin gnocchi, sautéed pumpkin, pumpkin cream, Parmesan gelatin, and shimeji mushrooms) to the unlikely (grilled octopus with sweet corn, black garlic, broccoli, and vegetable broth) to the luxurious (foie gras with green corn, farmer's cheese, endive, and sorrel).

#9 Maní (São Paulo)

Both Daniel Redondo and Helena Rizzo, the husband-and-wife team at Maní, spent time at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain (Redondo was born in that city), hailed as "the best restaurant in the world," and the true heir to the culinary throne after the closing of elBulli. Redondo and Rizzo have made their own mark, using what they learned there and incorporating its Spanish culinary influences with those of Italy and Brazil. What to expect at Maní? Among many other delicious and unusual dishes, curried quinoa balls with celery jam; octopus sticks with confit potatoes and sweet paprika; cold soup of jabuticaba (a Brazilian "super-fruit") with cachaça-steamed crayfish, pickled cauliflower, and amburana nuts; lightly grilled tuna with quinoa, blackberry chutney, ginger foam, and shiso peppers; and sweet smoked eggplant with curdled goat milk, lime zest, orange flower jelly, pistachios, crispy shredded phyllo, and black sesame seed ice cream. There is also a skillfully designed nine-course tasting menu.

The 10 Best Restaurants in Santiago, Chile

One of Latin America’s oldest capitals, Santiago, is contemporary and buzzing, yet still prides itself on its historical roots. The city is becoming more and more of a foodie hot-spot, offering everything from French haute-cuisine, Chilean street food to a variety of dishes that have been inspired by pre-colonial culinary techniques and ingredients.

The Obstinate Daughter Arrow

The sea breeze takes you up to the second floor, where it feels beachy inside, but without any hint of maritime kitsch. This is the sister restaurant to Wild Olive on Johns Island, so it makes sense that it has an Italian inflection too, though interpreted through a coastal lens. The menu has a ton worth trying, so consider sharing plates instead of hogging your own, and convince the group to go for any housemade pasta (especially the seasonal Pappardelle), plus a pizza, and the Mepkin Abbey Mushrooms. That last one, a kale, mushroom, and egg plate, is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

Old Major

The focus at this Highlands-area eatery is on heritage-raised meats from Colorado farms. The restaurant does its own butchering and cures the meats in-house (you can see the curing room from the dining area). While the emphasis is definitely on meals that meat lovers will enjoy, meat is not the only option. There are also seafood selections, including oysters, as well as salads and veggies, so any group with diverse culinary preferences can come together in Old Major and enjoy a meal out. Standouts on the menu: the nose-to-tail large plate and fried chicken starter did we mention the pork-fat fries? Arrive early for the well-priced happy hour menu and you'll save a few bucks without sacrificing taste. The beer list is deep and eclectic, the cocktail menu decidedly creative.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Old Major takes pride in all it does in-house and its connection to Colorado purveyors.

Christine's expert tip: Enjoy happy hour 3 to 6 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.

Franklin Barbecue

Barbecue platter at Franklin Barbecue Bill Addison

WHAT: The best brisket in Texas. WHY: It’s been less than a decade since Aaron and Stacy Franklin started slinging brisket from a trailer along the interstate. In that short time, they upgraded to a brick-and-mortar, they served our last president, and Aaron Franklin took home a James Beard award. They’ve not only created the country’s most popular barbecue joint, but they’ve also influenced pitmasters around the world. Through videos and a best-selling book, “Franklin-style” barbecue can now be found on most every continent. Even last year’s pit-room fire couldn’t keep them down for long, as the famous lines have re-emerged outside their Austin restaurant. It’s still worth the wait. — Daniel Vaughn


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America’s Essential Restaurants 2018

★ – an Eater 38 Icon, on this list five consecutive times

2M Smokehouse, San Antonio, TX | Al Ameer, Dearborn, MI | Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, CA | Bad Saint, Washington, DC | Bateau, Seattle, WA | ★ Benu, San Francisco, CA | Bertha’s Kitchen, North Charleston, SC | ★ Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY | Brennan’s, New Orleans, LA | Compère Lapin, New Orleans, LA | FIG, Charleston, SC | ★ Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX | The Grey, Savannah, GA | Here’s Looking At You, Los Angeles, CA | Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL | Himalaya, Houston, TX | Jose Enrique, San Juan, PR | JuneBaby, Seattle, WA | Kachka, Portland, OR | Koi Palace, Daly City, CA | Mariscos Jalisco, Los Angeles, CA | Mary & Tito’s Cafe, Albuquerque, NM | Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN | Momofuku Ko, New York, NY | Mud Hen Water, Honolulu, HI | n/naka, Los Angeles, CA | Palace Diner, Biddeford, ME | Parachute, Chicago, IL | Park’s BBQ, Los Angeles, CA | ★ Prince’s Hot Chicken, Nashville, TN | Smyth & the Loyalist, Chicago, IL | Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis, MN | Staplehouse, Atlanta, GA | Superiority Burger, New York, NY | Via Carota, New York, NY | Xi’an Famous Foods, New York, NY | Xochi, Houston, TX | ★ Zahav, Philadelphia, PA

While buying a cabbage, always go for the ones that have tightly packed leaves and its stems exhibit a bright gloss. The ones which don't have enough outer leaves or have fluffy, loose leaves should be avoided. Also, be extremely watchful of any discoloration, blemishes, cuts, cracks or insect infestation in the vegetable. Pre-cut or shredded cabbage loses its nutritional content and crunchiness.

Cabbage can be stored in a plastic bag and refrigerated. One whole cabbage can be stored in a refrigerator for up to two weeks. However, if you decide to halve it and use the rest later, make sure to store the remaining with a few drops of water sprinkled on it, packed in a plastic bag and refrigerated. You can also try shredding the vegetable, blanching it and freezing it.In case you spot worms or any signs of insect infestation, soak the vegetable in a solution of water and vinegar for 20 minutes. Wash it under cool, running water before storing. In case you choose to separate leaves away from its tight head, make sure that you store them at a cool and dark place, away from sunlight.

Typical Chilean Food

Being such a long country stretched over a variety of landscapes, Chile has a vast range of food and drink.

One of the highlights of Chilean Cuisine is its diversity of Seafood due to its 4,270 km (2,647 miles) of coastline. Another thing not to be missed while in Chile is its high quality red wine.

Chilean food should not be confused with the spicy dishes common in Mexico. Unlike Mexican meals, the hot chili is not too frequent in Chile.

Check out our 11 Tips about Chilean Food on our Blog.

Typical Chilean Dishes

Here is a list of typical Chilean Food and Drink and what their equivalent is in English:

Arrollado de Chancho - chunks of pork wrapped in pork fat smothered in red ají (chili).

Bistec a lo pobre - beefsteak, French fries, fried onions, topped with a couple of fried eggs.

Carbonada - meat soup with finely diced beef and all kinds of vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, green pepper and parsley.

Chancho en Piedra - a typical Chilean seasoning. Tomatoes, garlic, and onions grounded together in a stone.

Charquican - ground or diced meat cooked with garlic, onions, potatoes and pumpkin all mashed. It is a mushy dish but great.

Cazuela de Ave - chicken soup with pieces of meat, potatoes, green beans or peas, rice or noodles.

Cazuela de Vacuno - beef soup with pieces of meat, potatoes, corn on the cob, carrots, onions, green beans, garlic, chunks of pumpkin, rice or noodles.

Charquicán - potato, pumpkin, mince, onion, carrot sometimes with peas and corn (both optional) all mashed together.

Costillar de Chancho - baked spare (pork) ribs.

Curanto en Hoyo - a typical dish from the south of Chile. Traditionally prepared by heating fish, seafood, potatoes, some meat, milcaos and types of bread over red hot rocks in a hole in the ground. The food is wrapped in big leaves and then covered with dirt so that it slowly cooks over a number of hours. (Similar to a hangi in New Zealand). On Easter Island it is called Umu Pae.

Curanto en Olla - same ingredients as the curanto en hoyo only that it is cooked in a pot instead of under the ground. See our photo of a Curanto en Olla we had at Angelmó (near Puerto Montt).

Empanada de Pino - typical turnover (pastry) filled with diced meat, onions, olive, raisins and a piece of hard-boiled egg, baked in earthen or plain oven.

Empanada de Queso - typical turnover filled with cheese. (Photo on right)

Ensalada a la Chilena - sliced tomatoes and onions with an oil dressing.

Humitas - boiled corn leaf rolls filled with seasoned ground corn.

Milcaos - grated raw potato squeezed until dry then added to minced cooked potatoes and flattened to a bread-like form then baked or fried. This is one of the ingredients that can be found in a typical curanto.

Palta Reina - an avocado half which is filled with tuna fish or ham and covered with mayonnaise. It is served on lettuce leaves, normally as an entree.

Parrillada - different kinds of meat, sausages and sometimes entrails grilled over charcoal and served with potato salad or rice.

Pastel de Choclo - a typical Chilean summer dish. Ground corn and meat, chopped onions small pieces of chicken, pieces of hard boiled egg, olive raisins - baked in clay or regular oven. Similar to a shepherd pie.

Pebre - seasoning of tomatoes with chopped onion, chili, coriander, and chives. Usually served in a little clay dish.

Pernil - boiled whole hock (ham).

Pollo Arvejado - chicken served with peas, onion and sliced carrots.

Porotos Granados - fresh bean dish with ground corn and pieces of pumpkin served hot.

Prietas - blood sausages.

Sopaipilla - a flat circular deep fried 'bread' made of pumpkin and flour.

Chilean Seafood

Almejas con Limón - raw clams with lemon juice.

Caldillo de Congrio - conger-eel soup with onions, potatoes and carrots.

Ceviche - minced raw sea bass in lemon juice.

Congrio Frito - deep-fried conger eel.

Chupe de Locos - abalone bread pudding.

Empanada de Mariscos - turnovers filled with chopped seafood onions and seasoning.

Machas a la Parmesana - parmesan cheese raisor clams.

Mariscal Crudo - soup with all kinds of raw seafood.

Ostiones a la Parmesana - scallops on the shells in melted butter and covered with grilled Parmesan cheese.

Pastel de Jaiba - chilean Crab Pie served in its own shell (see photo).

Piure - sea squirts that are a dark red colour and with a very distinct strong flavour. Often eaten with diced onion, coriander and lemon. Best eaten near Chiloé.

Chilean Sandwiches

Aliado - ham and cheese sandwich.

Ave Mayo - diced chicken meat and mayonnaise.

Ave Palta - diced chicken meat and mashed avocado.

Ave Pimienta - diced chicken meat and red pepper.

Barros Jarpa - grilled cheese and ham on white bun.

Barros Luco - grilled cheese and meat on white bread.

Chacarero - sliced meat, green beans, chili and tomatoes.

Churrasco - beef sandwich.

Churrasco con Tomate - thin sliced meat and slices of tomato on white bun.

Churrasco con Palta - thin sliced meat, mashed avocado on white bun.

Completo - hot dog with all kinds of trimmings: mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, dilled pickles sauerkraut, etc.

Especial - hot dog with tomatoes.

Italiano - hot dog with avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Hamburguesa - hamburger patty. It isn't always served between buns.

Lomito Completo - sliced pork meat with sauerkraut, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup.

Pan Amasado - homemade bread.

Piñera Sandwich - salmon, arugula (rocket) and cream cheese. See more about the Piñera Sandwich.

Typical Chilean Desserts (and sweet things)

Alfajor - a flat round pastry (almos like two biscuits together) filled with manjar and covered in Chocolate

Arroz con Leche - rice pudding (literally rice with milk)

Bavarois de Lucuma - bavarois (type of custard) of a variety of eggfruit

Berlin - a round donut filled with manjar or jam / jelly

Calzones Rotos - literally translated as &ldquobroken underwear&rdquo, it is a sweet, soft dough that is twisted and then fried. Sometimes icing sugar is sprinkled on top.

Chumbeque - a traditional sweet from Iquique. Photos and Comments about Chumbeques.

Kuchen - a german fruit flan often found in the South of Chile

Leche Asada - a milk flan.

Manjar - a brown spread or cake filling made from boiled milk and sugar. Some visitors say it tastes like caramel. Manjar is quite sweet and is used in many cakes and sweet dishes.

Mote con Huesillo - cooked dried peaches and stewed corn served as a drink

Pan de Pascua - christmas cake

Papaya con Crema - preserved papaya with whipped cream.

Sopaipillas Pasadas - sopaipillas are immersed in a warm sauce that contains water, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and orange rind. Photos and Comments about Sopaipillas Pasadas

What next?

Try our interactive game about Typical Chilean Food. How many dishes can you get correct?

Learn more about Typical Chilean Drinks at: Chilean Drinks

Download our free printable Chilean Food Guide (in PDF).
Yes, it is completely free though we would appreciate it if you could like or retweet our page below :)

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Sweet Liberty

In 2016, restaurateur David Martinez, Blackbird Ordinary's Dan Binkiewicz, and world-class bartender John Lermayer opened a Miami Beach bar meant to be a hangout where locals could gather for proper cocktails and a killer menu by chef Michelle Bernstein. This neighborhood joint &mdash adorned with a pink neon sign that urges patrons to "pursue happiness" &mdash quickly became one of the most revered bars on the planet. Sweet Liberty has been named one of the World's 50 Best Bars and has won several Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Even Lermayer's untimely death couldn't stop the plucky bar and restaurant from staying true to its mission to serve good drinks and good food in a lively and friendly atmosphere. After all, it's a rare place that combines a James Beard-winning chef's food and some of the best drinks in a convivial setting that's unpretentious and downright fun.

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