Home Family Food & Cooking Savor! 20 Iconic Dishes Latino Countries Are Known For

Savor! 20 Iconic Dishes Latino Countries Are Known For

One of the ways Latin American countries celebrate national pride is through their delicious dishes. Our food blends influences, from the indigenous, Spanish, and African, and beyond, survive history, and make use of the best local ingredients. A nation’s cuisine is a major part of its identity. So, let’s learn more about each Latino country, by learning about major dishes of each.

1 Mexico: Mole

Mole is the national dish of Mexico. Mole poblano (from Puebla) is the most known version, and is a sauce made from at least 20 ingredients, including chili pepper, chocolate, almonds, plantains, and day-old bread. The finished sauce is then poured over meat. There are several other varieties of mole, including those native to Oaxaca.

2 Guatemala: Pepian

Photo Credit IG lamayrita89

In Guatemala, pepian is a dish that exemplifies the country. It is similar to a mole, in the sense that it is a sauce or stew poured over meat. Pepian is made with a variety of ingredients, including pumpkin seeds, chili, blackened tomatoes, fruit, vegetables, and a choice of meat.

3 El Salvador: Pupusas

Photo Credit IG salvadorenos_guapos_503

You can’t talk about Salvadoran cuisine without talking about pupusas. Pupusas have a tortilla-like shell, which is filled with cheese, beans, meat, and other fillings such as loroco.

4 Honduras: Plato Tipico

Photo Credit IG @thehonduranfoodie

In Honduras, the plato tipico (typical plate), is one of the nation’s best-known dishes. It has a little bit of everything — rice, plantain, steak, fresh cheese, sausage, tortillas, sour cream, (eggs for breakfast) and chismol (a Central American — especially Honduran and Salvadoran — salsa).

5 Nicaragua: Gallo Pinto

Photo Credit IG asisomosnicaragua

Gallo pinto is the national dish of Nicaragua (it is also the national dish of Costa Rica). It is made from white rice and red beans, cooked and mixed together to resemble a “spotted rooster,” (“gallo pinto”). It is part of every meal — for breakfast it accompanies eggs. For dinner, it could be served with meat, such as steak, fried cheese, tortillas, and tostones or maduros (fried sweet plantains).

6 Costa Rica: Casado

Photo Credit IG the_mighty_spoon

While gallo pinto is also the national dish of Costa Rica, another dish, which is purely Costa Rican is casado. Meaning “a married man” in Spanish, casado is a dish that brings together a variety of food. It includes rice, black beans, salad, and meat, but could also have a tortilla, plantains, an egg, vegetables, spaghetti, and other sides.  

7 Panama: Sancocho

Photo Credit cocinandoricord

Over in Panama and Colombia, a warm sancocho is the way to go. The hearty soup contains chicken, corn on the cob, potatoes, culantro, plantains, yuca, and other ingredients.

8 Cuba: Ropa Vieja

Photo Credit IG pan.comsandwicheria

Ropa vieja translates to “old clothes.” It is used to describe the signature dish of Cuba (the dish is said to resemble a pile of tattered clothing). Ropa vieja features shredded flank steak, cooked in a tomato-based sauce, served with rice, black beans, plantains, and fried yuca.

9 Dominican Republic: La Bandera

Photo Credit @chefmaggierd

In the Dominican Republic, their national dish is ultra patriotic. La bandera (which translates to “the flag”) recreates the Dominican flag: red beans, white rice, and meat, served with salad and fried plantains or maduros.

10 Puerto Rico: Arroz con gandules

Photo Credit IG @lacomidademivecina

Arroz con gandules is a major dish in Puerto Rico. It is made with rice, pigeon peas, pork, and Puerto Rican sofrito (a base), and cooked in a caldero (cast aluminum cooking pot).

11 Colombia: Bandeja Paisa

Photo Credit IG @medellindestination

Bandeja Paisa is the national dish of Colombia, hailing from the department of Antioquia, and the Eje Cafetero. Another dish which combines an array of food, it overflows with rice, ground beef, chicharron, avocado, a fried egg, red beans, chorizo (sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), a tajada (sliced fried plantain) and an arepa.

12 Venezuela: Arepa

Photo Credit IG @gastrocreativovzla

While Colombia also has arepas, they’re not as elaborate as those native to Venezuela. The Venezuelans use the arepa (a corn cake made out of corn flour) as a sandwich bread, stuffing it with fillings such as meat, cheese, avocado, beans, eggs, and more.

13 Ecuador: Encebollado

Photo Credit IG @ agustin000torres

In Ecuador, it’s all about encebollado. Translating to “onioned,” the country’s national dish is an onioned fish stew made with tuna, yuca, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, pickled onions, and more.

14 Peru: Ceviche

Photo Credit IG @instafoodperu

Peru’s national dish is ceviche. The dish is made with raw seafood, cooked using either lemon or lime juice, and given additional flavor with ingredients including cilantro, onions, chili peppers, and avocado.

15 Brazil: Feijoada

Photo Credit IG @arapukabar

In Brazil, feijoada is a beef stew with Portuguese origins. The stew can contain beef short ribs, black beans, orange slices, garlic, smoked sausage, bacon, and other combinations of beef and pork.

16 Bolivia: Salteñas

Photo Credit IG @explorandosaborespe

Salteñas are Bolivia’s version of empanadas. They are baked, not fried, and filled with meat, potatoes, eggs, olives, raisins, and a soupy sauce (slightly sweet, with varying amounts of spiciness).

17 Paraguay: Sopa Paraguaya

Photo Credit IG @tucasainvita

Sopa Paraguaya, the national dish in Paraguay, is not actually a soup at all. It’s actually a cornbread, made mainly with corn flour, eggs, milk, cheese, onions, oil, salt, and pepper.

18 Uruguay: Chivito

Photo Credit IG @antojado.ando

Chivitos translate to “little goats,” but are big sandwiches in Uruguay. They contain heaping layers of churrasco (thinly sliced grilled skirt steak), lettuce, cheese, bacon, ham, tomato, onion, and a fried egg.

19 Chile: Pastel de choclo

Photo Credit IG @denise.saka.s

A popular dish in Chile is pastel de choclo. It is a corn pie, made with sweetcorn, and filled with ingredients including ground beef, chicken, raisins, olives, a hard-boiled egg, milk, and onions.

20 Argentina: Asados

Photo Credit IG @nuchefgt

Argentinians are serious when it comes to barbecuing meats. Asados are just that — the act of barbecuing several types of meat on a parilla — which the country has perfected into an art form.