According to this year’s 50 Best Restaurants List – aka the who’s who of the culinary world – Italian cuisine is tops. Though, as Eater reports, the The Diners Club International’s rankings are generally criticized for favoring “expensive European-style tasting menus,” Latin America is solidly represented on the list – which actually has 100 entries – at 13 percent. Only a handful Latin American countries made the cut, but Peru had an exceptional year. Three restaurants from the South American country cracked the top 50, and Lima’s Maido made the biggest jump in the last year. Brazil and Mexico also had a strong showing.

We can’t promise these will be wallet friendly, but here are the best ways to satiate your hunger in Latin America and the U.S. –Yara Simón

1

Central

No: 4
City: Lima, Peru
Chefs: Virgilio Martínez and Pía León

Virgilio Martínez went from sk8r boi to Michelin-star winner. After he broke two shoulders skateboarding, he turned to cooking. Martínez and Pía León opened Central in 2009. Inspired by the pre-Columbian cooking style of the Incas, the two chefs whisked together diverse Andean ingredients. Their menu highlights everything from 65 feet below sea level to 13,000 feet above.

In the next two years, they hope to move the restaurant to Cusco, but in the meantime, they’ll keep doing their thing. “What we are doing in Central…it’s about the experience of the ecosystems and altitudes,” he said, according to The Art of Plating. “We want the customers to have the whole experience on the way to the restaurant – to see the oca producers, where we get the corn, the cacao, and the coffee. It’s the whole idea of cooking from scratch. Experiencing the harvest.” – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Ca. Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, Lima, centralrestaurante.com.pe

2

D.O.M.

No: 11
City: São Paulo, Brazil
Chef: Alex Atala

On Season 2 of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Alex Atala headed to the Amazon to learn from the indigenous woman he dubbed the best cook in the world. In the episode, he opens about grappling with his identity as a Brazilian chef, especially since the culinary world is so Eurocentric. His career as a chef may be far from his punk rock roots. But through his food, he’s been able to raise the profile of Brazilian gastronomy around the world, and he’s done it by placing special emphasis on indigenous ingredients.

Tingly herb jambú and ants are on the menu at D.O.M., which opened in 1999 and has two Michelin stars. According to The World’s 50 Best, “Deo Optimo Maximo, which translates as ‘To God, The Good, The Great.’ The Benedictine motto was often used to indicate places where weary pilgrims could eat and rest.” – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Rua Barão de Capanema, 549, Jardins, São Paulo, domrestaurante.com.br

3

Quintonil

No: 12
City: Mexico City, Mexico
Chef: Jorge Vallejo

Chef Jorge Vallejo’s green theme even extends to the name of the restaurant, Quintonil – a Mexican herb. His nearby garden plays an integral part in the restaurants offerings. With most ingredients traveling a mere 98 feet, the restaurant manages to keep its carbon footprint low, while serving up signature dishes like mamey pannacotta with mamey seed ice cream.

With this year’s list, Quintonil is CDMX’s highest-ranked restaurant – a title that previously belonged to Enrique Olvera’s Pujol. But it’d be hard to believe that there’s any bad blood between Olvera and Vallejo since the man behind Pujol mentored the man behind Quintonil. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Newton 55, Polanco, Mexico City, quintonil.com

4

Maido

No: 13
City: Lima, Peru
Chef: Mitsuharu Tsumura

Not that ranking No. 44 isn’t impressive, but Peruvian restaurant Maido has the distinct honor of being 2016’s “highest climber” after ascending 31 spots to No. 13. Not bad for a restaurant that first landed on the 50 World’s Best list in 2015.

Catherene Cook

Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura has infused both Japanese and Peruvians flavors at this unforgettable restaurant. Specializing in Nikkei-style dishes, Maido’s 15-course meal explores the biodiversity of Peru and makes use of rare ingredients from the Amazon. Some of the standout dishes include the 50-hour wagyu beef, a Nikkei remix on leche de tigre, and sushi a lo pobre. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

399 San Martin Street, Miraflores, Lima, maido.pe

5

Pujol

No: 25
City: Mexico City, Mexico
Chefs: Enrique Olvera and Francisco Ibáñez

Just like Atala, Enrique Olvera gave Netflix’s Chef’s Table a peek into his process. On the episode, he explained that he first started cooking to impress a girl, but he soon fell for the culinary world as well. One of his struggles has been changing the perception of Mexican gastronomy. “In the context of fine dining, cooking Mexican food was never good enough,” he said on the episode. “It’s a tragedy.”

Though rooted in traditional Mexican techniques, Olvera adds his own spin. With his signature Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo, for example, the mole has been aged for nearly 1,000 days. He opened Pujol in 2000. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Calle Francisco Petrarca 254, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11570 Ciudad de México, D.F., pujol.com.mx

6

Astrid y Gastón

No: 30
City: Lima, Peru
Chef: Gastón Acurio

Gastón Acurio has been fundamental in shaping the image of Peruvian cuisine both within the South American country and globally. He’s so popular that, according to the Washington Post, people have tried to nudge him to run for president. Astrid y Gastón – named after him and his wife, Astrid Gutsche – offers a 29-course, fixed-price menu called Virú, which is described as a “journey through modern Peru.”

Acurio, who used to belong to a heavy-metal band, initially set out to become a lawyer, but he dropped out of law school and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He returned to his native country in 1994 to open Astrid y Gastón, a French restaurant. But after becoming bored and uninspired, he began adding in Peruvian flavors and experimenting. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro, Lima 27, astridygaston.com

7

Boragó

No: 36
City: Santiago, Chile
Chef: Rodolfo Guzmán

True to its name, Boragó goes to great lengths to offer native ingredients. One dish is cooked in rainwater from Patagonia and serves as an example of Boragó’s relationship to the raw and natural. Inspired by the Mapuche indigenous group, Rodolfo Guzmán’s food may look deceptively simple, but is the result of years-long tinkering. What he’s ended up with is a tribute to Chile’s diverse cuisine.

After working for reputable restaurants in Europe, Guzmán returned to Chile to open a restaurant that didn’t mimic the food scene abroad. “The importance that we give food is something new for Chileans,” he told El Comercio. “…None of us dreamed we’d see what we’re seeing. People come from all parts of the world to eat. Twenty years ago, that would have sounded ridiculous, but today, it’s a reality.” – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Av. Nueva Costanera 3467, Vitacura, Santiago, borago.cl

8

Biko

No: 43
City: Mexico City, Mexico
Chefs: Mikel Alonso, Bruno Oteiza and Gerard Bellver

Describing their cuisine as “techno-emotional,” co-chefs Mikel Alonso, Bruno Oteiza, and Gerard Bellver examine food at a molecular level. This result can be seen in Biko’s foamed cauliflower and artichokes. Though based in Mexico City, the restaurant also has a heavy Basque influence. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Presidente Masaryk 407, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11550 Mexico City, biko.com.mx

9

Estela

No: 44
City: New York City, USA
Chef: Ignacio Mattos

Lower East Side restaurant Estela landed on the 50 Best Restaurant’s list for the first time. With its Mediterranean-inspired, tapas-esque dishes, Uruguayan chef Ignacio Mattos has been delivering tons of flavor with simple meals at Estela since 2013. Even the names of the dishes – mussels escabeche on toast and celery with shrimp and lovage – are pretty self-explanatory. “Effortlessness is a core element of my food,” he told Eater. “Say I get an apple and I want to cook with it, but actually chewing the apple is better than eating an apple dish? Fuck it. Why would I do that? I’d rather just serve the apple. Or at least be respectful to it and listen to what it is telling me.”

Mattos counts Argentine chef Francis Mallman as his mentor, but he knew he never wanted to be the next Francis. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

47 East Houston St, New York, NY 10012, estelanyc.com

10

Maní

No: 51
City: São Paulo, Brazil
Chefs: Helena Rizzo and Daniel Redondo

Taking its name from the well-loved Brazilian root vegetable manioc, Maní is wholly committed to the tuber. One of its standout dishes is baked manioca tubers with tucupi froth and coconut milk. The restaurant’s contemporary and traditional blend is best seen in its mix of indigenous and minimalist elements. Headed by couple Helena Rizzo and Daniel Redondo, the two combine their backgrounds in Spanish, Brazilian, and Italian cooking for their little slice of gourmet heaven.

The idea for the restaurant actually came from Rizzo’s friend, Brazilian TV host Fernanda Lima. In 2001, Fernanda started dreaming of a restaurant where she could eat more organically and naturally. She even bounced the idea off of Rizo, who at first seemed hesitant. But they eventually made it work and officially opened their doors on March 3, 2006. – Carolina Dalia Gonzalez

Rua Joaquim Antunes 210, Jardim Paulistano, São Paulo, manimanioca.com.br

11

Lasai

No: 64
City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Chef: Rafa Costa e Silva

With Lasai, Rafa Costa e Silva has undertaken an ambitious project. “Head to Rio’s organic market and you’ll find chef Rafa Costa e Silva browsing the boxes of fresh produce to supplement his own kitchen garden for Lasai’s daily-changing nine- and 12-course tasting menus,” explains Conde Nast Traveler. When ordering off the menu isn’t an option, it’s suddenly clear why Costa e Silva would go so far to provide a unique dining experience.

But despite the high-pressure situation Costa e Silva has created for himself, Lasai is pretty chill – just as its name (the Basque word for tranquility) suggests. Before opening the restaurant, he started a vegetable garden to provide his diners with the freshest ingredients. Though Lasai is a mix of Costa e Silva and wife Malena Cardiel’s aesthetics, the chef’s mentor Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz is felt in bursts. – Yara Simón

Rua Conde de Irajá, 191, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, lasai.com.br

12

Tegui

No: 68
City: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chef: Germán Martitegui

Hiding behind a graffiti-splattered door in Buenos Aires, Tegui exists as a sort of escape. “I think people need to be hidden,” Chef Germán Martitegui said about the restaurant he opened in 2009, according to The New York Times. “That was the idea with this place.” Though the restaurant is pretty low-key, Martitegui transforms the mood weekly through his rotating menu – ranging from European to diner-like foods.

Adding to the dining experience is the open kitchen that allows patrons to watch as their food is cooked, and chefs can look on as people dig in. 👀  👀  👀  – Yara Simón

Costa Rica 5852, Buenos Aires, tegui.com.ar

13

Cosme

No: 96
City: New York City, USA
Chef: Enrique Olvera

With two places on this list, Enrique Olvera continues his era of domination. In the almost two years since Enrique Olvera’s Cosme opened, the Mexican eatery has had a months-long reservation wait, topped the New York Times‘ list of best NYC restaurants, and fed Oscar winners/nominees Jennifer Lawrence, Adele, and Emma Stone. Olvera’s restaurant has been perhaps the most visible harbinger of NYC’s Mexican food moment; a rebuttal to the prevailing wisdom that NYC can’t hold its own compared to the Mexican food out West.

New York Times‘ restaurant critic Pete Wells recommends the lobster, duck carnitas, and fried pork skin. “It isn’t the kind of Mexican cooking that can be learned on a vacation,” he wrote. “It has to be lived and for that there are no shortcuts.”

35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010, cosmenyc.com

Comments