With Latin America’s growing appetite for U.S.-based fast food chain restaurants, it’s not unusual to see that establishments like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC are prospering in these countries. What we don’t see as much of is Latin American chain restaurants succeeding in the U.S.
There are some chains – Pollo Campero and Churromania, for example – that have made the jump in the last few years, but don’t have quite the same name recognition as our U.S. counterparts. In 2014, The Associated Press reported that Miami, New York, and Boston are a few cities that have seen an influx in Latin American restaurants, but we’re hoping they take take over all of the U.S.
Here are 10 restaurants we hope to see everywhere one day:
Casa de Toño
Country of origin: Mexico
Chain Casa de Toño isn’t a fast food restaurant, but there are 16 locations in Mexico. We definitely wouldn’t mind if they expanded to the United States, because Casa de Toño has been specializing in pozole since 1983.
This restaurant could have saved this guy from having to break into his mom’s house to steal her pozole.
Country of origin: Chile
In Gringolandia, Koke Santa Ana decides to open a Chilean-style completo hot dog stand after he moves to New York. In real life, he may have tried to bring a Doggis franchise.
The hot dog spot also sells empanadas, sundaes, and French fries. Currently, Doggis is only available in Chile, Brazil, and Peru.
Country of origin: Honduras
Baleadas, the Honduran staple served on flour tortillas, is a time-consuming process. But this chain promises to have them to you quick, while keeping it 100. The restaurant also serves hot dogs, plátano mixto, and enchiladas.
Country of origin: Guatemala
If any Latin American restaurant is set to take over the United States, it’s Pollo Campero. The Guatemalan chain has been in business since 2002 in the US, when it opened its Los Angeles location, and now there are nearly 50 locations countrywide.
The first Pollo Campero was established in 1971 in Guatemala, and for those visiting Central America, Pollo Campero has become an important stop. “In a recent stroll through Guatemala City airport, dozens of people could be seen waiting for flights with boxes of chicken piled atop their suitcases and in their laps,” wrote David Gonazalez in a 2002 piece for The New York Times. “Some sat quietly, scribbling the names of relatives and friends on boxes.”
El Meson Sandwiches
Country of origin: Puerto Rico
El Meson Sandwiches has started making its way to the mainland from Puerto Rico, but hopefully, everyone (other than Florida) catches on soon. In 2012, El Meson Sandwiches was named one of the best fast food chains by Travel + Leisure.
Since 1972, El Meson has been serving pernil sandwiches and medianoches. There are now more than 30 restaurants.
Country of origin: Venezuela
Before Churromania opened in Miami in 2001, I had no idea there were so many different ways you could eat a churro. The Venezuelan company began in 1997 in Puerto La Cruz. Currently, Churromania is only available in Florida and Texas in the United States, but everyone should be able to stuff churros with whatever flavor they’d like.
Country of origin: Brazil
Giraffas has eight locations in the United States; the Brazilian restaurant has been around since 1981. They serve steaks, burgers, yuca sticks, and rice and beans. For desset, they offer tres leche, brigadeiro, and salted dulce de leche cheesecake.
Fast Casual reports Giraffas has 400 locations in Brazil, and plans to have 100 in the U.S.
Country of origin: Peru
On Facebook, Pasquale Sanguchería simply describes itself as “Sánguches criollos servidos con esmero.” Founded by Peru’s most prominent chef, Gaston Acurio, alongside Arnold Wu and Edwin Wu, the chain serves up Peruvian classics like butifarra sandwiches, along with sandwich twists on classic Peruvian dishes, like a lomo saltado sandwich. They also feature favorites like anticuchos and tallarines verdes.
Country of origin: Colombia
Juan Valdez Café, which is named after the character created to rep Colombia’s coffee industry, is hoping to beat Starbucks at its own game, according to The Associated Press. They will be opening 60 cafes in Florida in the next five years, so if they follow Starbucks’ footsteps, they’ll soon be everywhere.
Country of origin: Argentina
Gourmet is arguably the best of Buenos Aires’ numerous empanada chains. It serves up baked and fried versions of the classics (carne, jamon y queso, humitas, etc.) as well as some of the “gourmet” options that lend the chain its name (think: Mediterranean and seafood varieties, yummm.)