Do you know what choclo is? Are you a lover of tacos al pastor? Did you grow up with mole or menudo?
Latino culture isn’t just about the language, music, and arts—it’s also about the food. The rich, delicious, intricate dishes that have mucho savor! Every Latino country has a few signature dishes they are known for. Let’s break down a few and explore the mouthwatering cuisine of our ancestors.
Asado also known as the barbeque of Argentina, is the country’s national dish. It originates from the gauchos that would roam the Argentinian lands surviving on the cows and plentiful meats of the land. According to BBC’s Good Food blog, lamb or pig roasting over an open fire, accompanied with chimichurri, is the perfect dish to describe Argentina’s flavor.
Saltena’s is the national dish of Bolivia. It’s a sweet crescent-shaped pastry with braided crust, usually served for breakfast or as a snack. Salteña’s are filled with either chicken or beef, and are usually filled with numerous spices, such as Adobo, cumin, oregano, and achiote spice, this unique dish is one of its kind and a little difficult to make—but worth it!
Brazil is known for its barbeque, but it’s the Picanha that’s worthwhile. Picanha is the most popular cut of meat in Brazil and it’s only seasoned with salt—grilled to perfection of course! Other meat-related highlights to include are their wild boar, chicken hearts, and Feijoada, a hearty stew made from cuts of pork and black beans.
Chile: Pastel de Choclo
Chile’s most popular dish. It’s made from a variant of corn called choclo that is slightly sweet. This signature dish consists of corn puree mixed with beef, onions, chicken, basil, and other delicious and hearty ingredients. Choclo can be only found in the summertime, so this incredible dish is limited to when it can be served throughout the year.
Colombia: The Bandeja Paisa
integrates the flavors of Colombia in the best way. The signature dish consists of Colombian sausage, red beans, ground beef, rice, chicharrón, arepa, plantain, avocado, and is usually topped with a fried egg. Come hungry, because this dish contains decadence—it’s very large and is usually served atop large trays and dishes.
Costa Rica: Galla Pinto
is considered the national dish by Costa Rican locals. It’s a breakfast dish that consists of rice and beans, mixed with spices to give it extra flavor—not to mention its most important flavor-filled ingredient, Salsa Lizano.
Cuba: Ropa Vieja
is the national dish of Cuba. This hearty dish consists of shredded beef, tomato sauce, onions, and pepper—usually served with yellow rice. This dish originate in Spain and was brought over to Cuba by the Spaniards long ago.
Ecuador: Cuy Asado, or guinea pig
Cuy Asado is one of the national dishes of Ecuador. It’s traditionally served at special events or celebrations, and can be found all over the country. Cuy is usually served whole with potatoes, vegetables, or a side salad.
El Salvador: Papusas
Papusas are the signature dish of El Salvador. Made from either rice or corn flour, they can be stuffed with a variety of fillings—such as cheese, meats, fried beans, and loroco. You can have papusas morning, day, and night—and it’s typically served with tomato sauce and curtido.
Guatemala: Chicken Pepian
Chicken Pepian is the national dish of Guatemala. It’s a hearty stew that consists of slow-cooked meats, vegetables, tomatoes, poblano peppers, and potatoes, along with seeds and nuts. This dish can be found at any traditional Guatemalan restaurant.
One of Honduras’ national dishes is Carneada, also known as Plato Típico. This delicacy consists of beef, pork sausages, fried plantain, refried or stewed beans, and rice. You can also add avocado, sour crème, cheese, lime juice, and plenty of tortillas de maiz to help devour the deliciousness.
Mole Is the national dish of Mexico. The name originates from the Aztec language of Nahuatl, meaning “sauce” or “concoction.” Mole is a sauce that can come in different colors, and can contain an array of fruits, chili, and even chocolate—pour it over chicken, turkey, enchiladas, or any food of your liking.
Vigoron is a very popular dish in Nicaragua. It consists of the boiled cassava plant and chicharron, topped with cabbage salad and mimbro, a sour fruit. This dish is usually served on a green banana leaf called chagüite.
Panama: Sanchoco de Gallina
Sancocho de Gallina is described as the flavor of Panama. This signature dish is a chicken stew consisting of slow-cooked chicken, corn, yucca, and flavors. Similar to cilantro, Panamanians use culantro to help flavor their Sanchoco. A meal perfect for any occasion.
Paraguay: Sopa Paraguaya
Sopa Paraguaya is a traditional dish served throughout the year. It’s a cornmeal-based bread filled with Paraguayan cheese, large quantities of sliced onion, and eggs. Traditionally cooked in a clay brick oven called tatakua, this bread has a spongy and tangy essence to it that is very delicious!
Ceviche is the national dish of Peru. The name originates from the indigenous Quechua word of “siwichi,” which means “fresh fish.” Ceviche is typically served as an appetizer and consists of marinated fish or shrimp, accompanied with juices, vegetables, and other flavors to add to its decadence.
Puerto Rico: Arroz con Gandules
Arroz con Gandules is the island’s national dish. It’s traditionally made with pork, chorizo, red peppers, and olives—don’t forget the sofrito sauce!
Dominican Republic: La Bandera
La Bandera is the national dish of the Dominican Republic—also known as “the flag.” This dish consists of rice, red beans, and meat, and is cooked to perfection. The dish directly reflects the national flag. According to the Amigo Foods blog, “ the meat represents the blue in the flag, which stands for liberty, [the] rice means white, which signifies salvation, [and] the red beans represent the red or the blood of heroes.”
Venezuela: Pabellon Criollo
Pbellón Criollo is the national dish of Venezuela. The 5th of July, is Venezuela’s National Day and this yummy dish will most certainly be on lots of Venezuelans’ table. This dish displays three main colors: white (rice), black (beans) and brown (meat). You can also ornate this dish with some fried plantains (called “tajadas” in Venezuela). It is traditionally served with “arepas” (Venezuelan corn bread) and with some white cheese. Accompany this dish with a glass of “Papelón con limón” (lenon juice with brown sugar).
Uruguay: The Chivito Sandwich
The Chivito Sandwich is Uruguay’s national dish. It consists of steak, mozzarella, mayonnaise, bacon, olives, and a fried egg—doesn’t that make your mouth water? Its deliciousness is unparallel.
No matter what your background consists of, we can all agree that trying new cuisine and exploring different Latino cultures can be both exciting and delicious. Be proud of your roots and the traditional dishes of your ancestors, but don’t forget to try these cuisines and other cuisines across cultures on your next foodie adventure—there is so much to explore!