24 Of The Most Popular Latin Foods

Some would say that the best part of traveling around the world is seeing the wonders each country has to offer.

From mountains to lakes and beaches to cities, traveling can open the mind to brand-new experiences.

As we are huge foodies, we think that trying the cuisine of different countries is the highlight of any trip.

The Most Popular Latin Foods

Although we are all blessed with having international foods practically on our doorsteps these days, there is nothing better than trying traditional food straight from its home country. 

Latin culture is renowned for some of the most delicious foods in the world. Just think of some of your favorite dishes, and there are probably a whole host of Latin foods on your list.

From cheesy pizzas to wondrous pasta bowls, we are all spoiled for choice when it comes to Latin dishes. So, trying to decide on what to prepare for a Latin evening can take a while. 

That’s where we come in with our list of the most popular and most delicious Latin foods in the world.

Just one bite into some Latin dishes and you are transported into the Latin culture, the Latin lands, and their way of life. 

So, let’s begin our journey to find the best Latin foods for you to try. Get those pizza ovens and pasta dishes ready!

Popular Latin Foods To Make Your Mouth Water 

1. Jibarito 

The Jibarito is a popular dish hailing from Puerto Rico (see also ‘23 Amazing Puerto Rican Desserts You Need To Try‘). If you have ever been to Puerto Rico (see also ‘17 Tasty Puerto Rican Recipes‘), you will know that plantains are very popular there.

So, it’s no surprise that the Jibarito contains plantains instead of bread, to make a very tasty steak sandwich (see also our favorite tea sandwiches). 

This sandwich is made by stacking cheese, meat, and various other ingredients between two slices of plantain (fried).

These days, Jibarito is famous in other parts of the world, particularly Chicago, where it is considered to be a staple of the region.

2. Ropa Vieja

If you like nutritious, hearty, and flavorful dishes, then Ropa Vieja is one to try.

Popular in many parts of Latin America, this Cuban cuisine is so popular in Cuba, that many consider it to be the country’s national dish.

A typical Ropa Vieja dish is made with shredded beef, onions, pepper, and salsa de tomate.

Translating into “old clothes” in English, Rope Vieja doesn’t sound half as appetizing as it really is.

Luckily, despite its name, this Cuban dish is full of flavor and one you’ll want more of every time you eat it. 

3. Asado

Asado is not actually a type of food. Essentially, it refers to a cooking method of grilling meat over a fire (you know, like a barbecue!)

Well, we wanted to include this because so many meats are made using this method.

You can grill flank steak, rib eye, chorizo, and much more with the Asado technique, and when you add chimichurri sauce with the grilled dishes, the flavors are extremely flavorful. 

4. Pozole

We travel to Mexico to find Pozole, a traditional Mexican dish, typically consisting of pork, chicken, hominy (see also ‘35 Hominy Recipes You Have To Try‘), and various spices.

Many believe that Pozole originated with the Ancient Aztec people. Incredible when you think how popular this savory dish remains, all this time later.

Although preparation is quite straightforward, Pozole requires several hours to prepare and cook, whether that be its red, white, or green variety (Pozole Rojo, Pozole Blanco, and Pozole Verde).

5. Sopes

We stay in Mexico to enjoy this Mexican appetizer. Known as Sopes, or Antojito, this dish is typically served with different toppings such as onions, cheese, lettuce, and green or red sauce.

Quick and easy to make, Sopes is essentially a thick tortilla, containing vegetables and meat. The base of the tortilla is made with fried masa with its edges pinched in. 

6. Pabellón Criollo

Venezuela is renowned for its diverse culture and population. And, fortunately for us, the diverse cultural traditions translate into wonderful cuisine.

There’s no finer way to enjoy Venezuela’s cuisine than with their delicious national dish, Pabellón Criollo. This is most likely one of the richest dishes you’ll ever taste in your life.

Made with salty black beans, shredded beef, fried sweet plantains, and white rice, the sensation your taste buds will experience will be like no other.

Try it and find out for yourself! 

7. Chilean Sea Bass

Chilean Sea Bass is a very popular food in, you guessed it, Chile.

Also known as Antarctic toothfish and Patagonian, this sea bass is widely found in seafood restaurants throughout the South American country.

Chilean sea bass has a flaky texture, with a white flesh and, when cooked, it tastes somewhat like cod.

It also becomes more buttery and smooth when cooked in the many ways you can do so.

In fact, think of any cooking method and Chilean Sea Bass can probably be cooked in that way. Moreover, you can add almost any spices to it for additional flavor.

8. Mexican Rice

This flavorful paella rice is used almost every day in Latin culture. Different from basic white rice, Mexican rice can be enjoyed as a dish on its own.

But, it goes best as a side dish to most meat entrées, or, most often, as filling in burritos and taquitos.

Mexican rice is not the same as Spanish rice. Instead, the Mexican variety is flavored with tomatoes, giving it that distinct and inviting orange color.

When cooked, Mexican rice is done so in broth before different seasonings are added.

9. Salteña

Filled with meat, Salteñas are types of baked empanadas.

Meats most commonly used are chicken, pork, or beef which are then combined with a spicy, yet slightly sweet sauce containing potatoes, olives, and raisins. 

Popular in Bolivia, you will find Salteñas in most towns throughout the country. The fillings you encounter, though, will vary depending on where you are.

10. Gallo Pinto

We land in Costa Rica for this dish packed full of intense yet beautiful flavors. Gallo Pinto comprises mostly of beans and rice.

This may not sound like much, but this basic combination comes to life when cooked in chicken stock, onion, garlic, and sweet peppers. 

Translated, Gallo Pinto means “Spotted Rooster,” and it is typically seasoned with a vegetable-based condiment known as salsa lizano.

This contains pepper and cumin, and is commonly used throughout Costa Rica.

11. Choripan

A quick trip to Argentina as we find Choripan, traditional Argentinian food that is hugely popular throughout the country.

Choripan is affordable yet very tasty. And, it is extremely quick and easy to make (and even easier to eat).

These sandwiches are more of an appetizer rather than a whole meal, and are usually enjoyed at a barbecue or an asado (a grill).

They are typically served to guests as the meat is cooked on the grill, to keep their energy levels up for the feast about to appear.

In most cases, chimichurri sauce is used to season choripan, giving it a unique and super delicious flavor. 

12. Mangú

As soon as you set sights on this Dominican breakfast dish, you will be met with a bright-colored, delicious looking dish of food.

Made from mashed plantains, these are boiled until they are wonderfully soft. When tucking into this feast, you can also enjoy Dominican salami.

This is a slightly smoky and cured fried meat that gives you fuel for the upcoming day.

Also included is queso frito and pickled onions. And, no big breakfast is complete without a fried egg.

13. Bandeja Paisa

Translated to Columbia Platter, Bandeja Paisa is rational Colombian cuisine.

A standard dish of Bandeja Paisa consists of minced meat, chorizo, white rice, red beans, fried eggs, fried pork (known as chicharron), Columbian flatbreads (known as arepa), avocado, and plantain (see also ‘20 Delectable Colombian Desserts To Make Your Mouth Water‘).

Considered a national dish of Columbia (see also ‘20 Delectable Colombian Desserts To Make Your Mouth Water‘), this is one of the newest, as Bandeja Paisa wasn’t declared one until 2005 by the Colombian government. 

14. Pupusas

Our first dish from El Salvador is Pupusas . This is a flatbread filled with either cheese or refried beans, and then served with curtido (fat-free slaw), a cabbage relish.

The flatbread itself is created from cornmeal flour known as masa harina.

You may not have heard of this, but head to the streets of El Salvador and it will be available in mass quantities with the street vendors.

Try making this yourself at home, but add lots of curtido, and eat when it is warm and just off the cooker top. 

15. Enchiladas

Here’s one you have definitely heard of!

A staple in nearly all Mexican households, Enchiladas have become popular throughout the world, and are now considered as popular, maybe even more, than burritos, quesadillas, and tacos. 

This Mexican food is simply a rolled corn tortilla, which is coated with sauce and fried. These are stuffed full of meat, cheese, and chili sauce.

It is then topped off with savory sauce before being served with Mexican rice, tomato slices, lettuce, guacamole, and more.

16. Pepián

This is the first stew on our list, and what a delicious stew it is!

Hailing from Guatemala (see also ‘30 Traditional Guatemalan Foods And Recipes‘), Pepián is a favorite throughout Guatemala, and its traditional form consists of chicken, tomatoes, roasted tomatillos, onions, and pepitas.

These are all mixed with chicken broth, resulting in a wonderful velvet texture and appearance. In fact, it looks more like curry at first glance than stew!

17. Churros

Another famous Latin food – Churros. This food is famous worldwide, with the Mexican and Spanish variety being the most popular.

A pastry snack, thought to hail from Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and maybe some other Latin countries, is typically enjoyed for breakfast alongside various dipping sauces from Latin countries.

Their exterior is typically crispy, while their insides are beautifully tender and soft. 

If you would like your churros to be a little sweeter, you can add some sugar on top. Just eat them fresh and hot for the best churros experience. 

18. Mole

If you’re looking for a sauce with layers and layers of flavor, look no further than Mole, a Mexican delectable dish. 

Earthy and sweet, Mole includes chilies for added heat, smokiness, and sweetness. Also included are sesame seeds, which provide some nuttiness to the flavor.

Its deep, dark, rich color is thanks to cocoa or dark chocolate, depending on the recipe.

There are variations of this dish, but the traditional one consists of the above ingredients. It can usually be served over meats, rice, fried eggs, and other foods.

Find out what Mole tastes best with yourself and let us know!

19. Tamales

With an incredible taste, Tamales are now popular all over the world. But, it is in Latin America, from where they originated, where Tamales remain a favorite.

Throughout Mexico, Honduras, Columbia, and Guatemala, Tamales are made with masa dough and filled with hearty chicken, pork, beef, cheese, or bean tamales.

They are then usually wrapped in corn husk or plantain before being steamed. 

20. Sancocho

The national dish of Panama (see also ‘Top 23 Panamanian Foods To Try Today‘), Sancocho is a chicken soup to make your taste buds come to life.

Many swear by its healing powers to treat various ailments, and it is said to help you cool down on very hot days. 

Served in bowls, Sancocho has a flavorful ouch, with onion, yuca, garlic, chicken, and occasionally corn or carrots, emanating throughout your taste buds. 

21. Ceviche

Eaten either on its own or with corn tostadas, Ceviche is a refreshing Purivian food, consisting of raw fresh, pickled red onions, and lime. Yep! It’s very bright as well as acidic.

Ceviche is typically marinated and then goes through a denaturation process. When it’s ready, this is one of the best tasting seafoods you’ll ever encounter. 

22. Elotes

Translated to corn on the cob,” Elotes is a traditional Mexican street food, typically sold by street carts and tacos. 

The kernels of elotes are covered in Mexican crema and are sweet and tender, with a small sprinkling of dried Mexican cheese (cotija) added on top.

A final topping of chili powder provides a spicy, explicit burst with each bite 

23. Chivito

Chivito is a sandwich from Uruguay that is typically eaten for lunch.

It comprises ham, bacon, slices of grilled beef, tomato, lettuce, mozzarella cheese, and a fried egg.

What a feast!

24. Arroz Con Leche

Popular in Latin America and Spain, Arroz con Leche is a hearty dessert made from only sugar, milk, and rice. Yep, it’s rice pudding!

You can Amie this worldwide favorite in less than half an hour, but, for added flavor, you can top it with cinnamon sticks, and some lemon.

The first mouthful will open your taste buds to a whole new heavenly world. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Mexican Food The Same As Latin Food?

Latin foods are any foods that come from Latin countries. Therefore, Mexican dishes are considered Latin dishes.

Most Latin foods have bold, strong flavors, and many are popular throughout the world. 

How Would You Define Latin Food?

Latin American cuisine consists of meals, drinks, and cooking techniques that are typical to many Latin American countries and cultures.

Some examples of such countries are Mexico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Central or South America.

Is All Latin Food Spicy?

No, many Latin foods are not spicy whatsoever.

While it is true that chilies are used in many Latin dishes, not all are spicy and hot. Many peppers used are sweet and mild, whereas others are indeed spicy.

In Summary

Above are just some examples of delicious Latin foods. How many have you heard of or tried? Get in touch and let us know!

The Most Popular Latin Foods

The Most Popular Latin Foods

Recipe by Jenna

From ceviche to tacos, Latin cuisine is renowned for some of the most delicious dishes in the world. Find out the most popular Latin foods with our guide here.

Course: Appetizers
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