Last week, the opening of Almacen de Empanadas prompted a look at the varied cuisine of Mexico’s different regions. Empanadas can be found in almost every other country in Central and South America.

The cuisine of these countries differs as much as the terrain, weather and natural resources do. Some of the countries still show strong influences of their indigenous peoples, others still hold on to the traditions of the Spanish colonists while some have been heavily influenced by other European and Asian settlers. 

As you head south from Mexico and enter Central America, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama, have, for the most part, more in common with Caribbean countries than they do with Mexico, showing much more colonial European influences. The one exception to this is Mexico’s neighbor Guatemala, which features more extensive use of chilies in its cuisine. The fertile farmland in Central America, combined with temperate weather, makes it an area rich in produce. Plantains, whether sweet or starchy, accompany almost every meal. While tortillas are used, pupusas, a thick corn meal cake often stuffed with cheese, vegetables and meat, are also popular. Pork is the predominant meat.        

Northern South America, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru, tend to have wider, open fields and consequently, cattle are easier to raise, so you’ll find beef used more extensively. Seafood dishes are also prevalent, especially in the coastal areas of Peru and Ecuador, where ceviche-style dishes are common. Vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic (often referred to as “sofrito” when together) are the seasoning base for many dishes and recipes. White rice is still a staple, and black beans are predominant. Arepas, a pancake made of cornmeal, accompany many meals in Venezuela and Colombia while potatoes are ubiquitous in Ecuador and Peru. Peruvian cuisine also exhibits strong Asian influences from early settlers coming over from Japan and China.            

Southern South America (Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) are among the countries with the highest per capita consumption of beef in the world. The sole exception is in Patagonia, the southernmost region of Argentina and Chile, where the Andes Mountains ramble down to the coastal areas. The scrublands here are more conducive to the raising of lamb and goat. Seafood dishes also abound in Argentina and Chile, with each country having large coastal borders along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. 

Again, the influences of European settlers mingle with those of the indigenous people to create a vast and varied cuisine. In this part of South America, you’ll find many dishes using legumes, pumpkin and olive oil. Chile and Argentina are also renowned for their vineyards which produce some of the best wines in the world. 

South and Central American Restaurants in South Flr

So, where can you sample some of the diverse foods of South and Central America? While there are many Latin fusion restaurants in the area, the following places serve up the real deal and are either owned or operated by natives of the countries listed. I’ve limited the list to independently operated places serving authentic food. A few of the countries are not represented by restaurants in this area.


Argentina:     La Rural Argentine Steakhouse, 7351 SR 7, Parkland; 954-775-0641,

Bolivia:           Bolivian Restaurant Las Americas, 2772 SW 8th St.,

Miami; 305-639-8836,

Brazil:            Cafe Brazil Restaurant, 1436 E Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-782-5235,

Chile:              Viva Chile Lindo, 4950 S. State Rd. 7, Hollywood; 954-327-2888,

Colombia:     Las Colinas, 2724 N. Andrews, Wilton Manors; 954-390-7410,

Ecuador:       Mi Lindo Ecuador, 8726 NW 26th St., Doral; 305-718-8577,

El Salvador: El Tamarindo, 712 Atlantic Shores Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-


Honduras:     La Costa Honduran Cuisine, 1855 S. State Rd. 7, Fort Lauderdale; 954-626-0714,

Nicaragua:    Pinolandia,1290 N. Military Trail, West Palm; 561-429-4620,

Peru:              Bravo Peruvian Cuisine, 2925 NE 6th Ave., Wilton Manors; 954-533-4350,


Venezuela:   La Casserola, 6941 SW 196th Ave, Pembroke Pines; 954-470-5021;

 check out part one @

Rick's Reviews: South of the Border Part 1