From the peaks of mountains, pits of rainforests, the brightly coloured fabrics, and a rich culture crossed with endless years of history, the continent of South America has bestowed upon the world some of its greatest and tastiest treasures that most are unaware come from the glorious continent. To name just a few include chocolate, vanilla, corn, tomatoes and potatoes, among a continued list of delicacies that range in variety and appeal but are now local customs in countries across the world.
So, it’s of no doubt that South American food would manifest as vivaciously delicious in a multitude of forms from one country to the next. From the sizzling and smoky meats of Brazilian Churrascaria, to the refreshing Peruvian ceviche, and the sweet and spicy flavours prepared in Mexico, South American cuisine offers to the world as much richness and variety in its food as it has offered in every other aspect.
Dubai residents are not new to the taste of South America, as some of world’s best joints joined in on claiming Dubai as home. But despite the large number of folks who have discovered the rich tastes of South America already, there are far too many who have not or are yet to expand their horizons on Latin flavour. And for those here’s a guide to some must try South American restaurants around town.
Located at the Palace in Downtown Dubai with stunning views of the Burj Khalifa, Asado pays tribute to the culture and history of old and new Argentina. Named after the very Argentinian technique for cooking cuts of meat on an open parilla, it stays true to the Pampa region of South America and to the dish itself. Enjoy the lively Argentine grill providing an authentic feel of a country farmhouse while you prepare for a three-course meal featuring dishes like Avocado Salad, Pollito De Granja, and sweet Panqueques. Call 04-8883444.
In the centre of DIFC, Gaucho captures the cultural blend of Argentina’s cuisine. From the early explorers, local and native traditions, and the influences of Spain that brought delicious empanadas. And no Argentinian spot is complete without its speciality beef. Gaucho promises the traditional Argentinian meat delicacy of steak to be served hot from the flames, spiced and served with a glass of grape. For dessert, the thick, sticky and sweet indulgence of dulce de leche is another authentic favourite that can go with almost anything. Call 04-4227898.
Loca’s menu is created by Mexican native Chef Juan Flores whose authenticity to Mexican cuisine shows in every dish along accompanied with his own contemporary spin. His guacamole is transformative coming in a range of additions that vary from Frutas, strawberries, blackberries or the Congrejo made with habanero chili and crabmeat, while his tamales are made with a special secret recipe in a variety of corn masa from across the country. Loca is now a dining legend, which keeps people coming back, keeping the food solely Mexican and using fresh ingredients straight from the vibrant country. Try the refreshing kingfish ceviche, the enchiladas de pollo made with grilled cornfed chicken, or the carne arrachera, moist grilled angus beef made with chipotle adobo and served with oaxaca. Call 04-3461111.
Located in the Aloft Palm Jumeirah, Luchador draws inspiration from Mexico’s iconic sport Lucha Libre and seeks to encompass the very same liveliness and energy of the Mexican wrestling spirit. This Mexican roof cantina and lounge is decorated with bold pieces while incorporating historical Aztec prints, motifs and tiles that remain true to Mexico’s rich past. When it comes to the food, Luchador seeks authenticity serving up traditional tacos, guacamoles, ceviches, carnitas and for some mains the rich octopus in ‘Pulpo En Su Tinta’ and the ‘Pescado Frito’ a fried hamour with Mexican rice, tortillas and pickled jalapeños. Luchador celebrates the Mexican way of life, to welcome guests and make them feel at home and to combine food and fun, while letting them explore authentic Latin flavours throughout the menu. Call 04-2475555.
Tortuga Mexican Kitchen and Bar
Explore the warmth and flavours of Mexico at this colourful Latin restaurant at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam. The menu has all the classics that are reminiscent of traditional Mexican cuisine like the tacos de la esquina, the succulent and slow cooked pollo con mole, and pulpo al ajillo which comes with fresh guacamolada salsa. If you’re seeking to immerse yourself into a true Mexican dining experience, take a tour of Mexican specialties with the Andale Patron Jorge’s Tour Menu, a five-course feature appealing to genuine Latin flavours. Call 04-3666152.
The homegrown and soulful Mexican restaurant promises to bring the passion and authenticity of Latin American spices. Zoco was born from the essence of ‘La Beuna Vida’, the good life, infusing the spirit of Mexico with their traditional family recipes in familiar tacos to guacamoles. They also serve contemporary takes on classic dishes like snapper ceviche or the charred carne asada, within a vibrant fiesta atmosphere. Call 04-4370044.
Peru’s finest settles at the Garden. Within the vibrant and colourful interior is a menu set to offer a refined selection of a unique Peruvian style of cooking. No doubt that the ceviches and tiraditos are house favourites and ready to share while other starters offer wholesome tastes of the western Latin country. If Peruvian cuisine is a first for you, there are the corn empanadas made with cheese, a tender chicken breast made with pecans and aji amarilla, and costillas de cordero, a lamb rack accompanied with panca chili, acacia honey, and butter leeks cream. Call 04-4143000.
Peruvian cuisine is mastered at LIMA, earning its spot on the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list. The taste of Peru can be described as a melting pot of cultures with the movement of European, Japanese and Chinese immigrants that had intertwined to become one of the most delicious cuisines to try. LIMA curates dishes seeking to bring diners closer to one of South America’s most enticing countries with their tantalizing salmon ceviche, the flavourful and slow cooked lamb seco, and perfectly crunchy asparagus tempura and prawn anticucho. Call 056-5004571.
The Peruvian-Asian fusion restaurant is an award-winning joint located at the Oberoi Hotel in Business Bay. Encompassing the vibrancy of Latin America in the ambiance and food, Waka offers several events during the week to give guests an authentic experience. Visit on Thursdays for a true South American street party vibe with live Cuban music, and food and drink stations. The signature dishes of ceviche, tacos, and tiraditos which capture the artistic plating of Waka and the flavours of Peru. Call 04-4441455.
Chamas Churrascaria & Bar
Chamas is translated from the Portuguese word meaning flame and no doubt that the restaurant and food seeks to serve up feasts of Brazil’s finest. With 18 different cuts of meat in the churrascaria, Brazilian BBQ style, it is served on skewers by passadores, traditional meat waiters, directly at your table. Not only can you explore churrascaria style cuisine but Chamas encourages you to linger with some Brazilian street food like Bahia Tapioca or the famous appetizer of Brazil’s beaches, Calamari Caicara. Call 800-276963.
Fogo de Chão
Fine-dining churrascaria at Fogo de Chão is curated by some of Brazil’s expert trained guacho chefs presenting their succulent roasts to diners all over the world. The world class menu is inspired by its namesake which translates to ‘Fire on the Ground’ describing the traditional method of cooking churrascaria, slow cooked over and open fire exceeding 800 degrees. The menu encompasses the centuries old tradition in their dishes like the picanha, beef ancho, and the fraldinha. By serving authentic cuts of meat along with their seasonal sides, Fogo de Chão has become one of the top churrascaria restaurants in Latin cuisine. Call 04-3438867.
Toro Toro believes in Latin America’s spirit of the meal, that it’s an event to be celebrated at your table. The restaurant gathers a pan Latin cuisine letting you explore South America, coast to coast. Their à la carte menu takes the family style dining experience within a contemporary setting with dishes like the traditional Peruvian salmon tiradito or try hot Peruvian red pepper aji panca in the beef filet anticucho skewers. For a more traditional feel, Toro Toro also offers classic homemade empanadas and Venezuelan chachapas, sweetcorn pancakes accompanied with sour cream. Call 04-3176000.
Asia De Cuba
This brand-new joint at the Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina features exactly what the name entails: a unique take of Chino-Latino dining. Executive Chef Luis Pous is a Cuban native and provides his innovative take on what Cuban food would be like infused with Asian flavours. The menu has five main sections consisting of ceviches, sushi, small plates, entrees and Cuban BBQ. When you visit the newly renovated space and settle amongst the vintage spirit of the restaurant, you’ll get to explore a menu that includes tunapica tartare, octopus al ajillo with kale tabbouleh and a roasted Peking duck with chili herb salad, guava and hoisin. This fusion food captures the evolving tastes of two distinct cultures. Call 04-5117333.