A tour of 2022 Readers' Choice Award-winning Latin American restaurants in St. Louis
You should absolutely use the Sauce Readers’ Choice awards as an excuse to plan extensive dining excursions. Start with the winners of the 2022 Favorite Latin American category and experience flavors from Puerto Rico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador and more. Here is where to go and what to eat on your next food tour of St. Louis.
The thing to order at your favorite Latin American restaurant is definitely the jibarito: a delightfully unwieldy sandwich made up of tostones (twice-fried green plantains) instead of bread, your choice of steak or pork, Swiss-American cheese, lettuce, tomato and garlic mayo. “This is the one thing that you literally cannot get anywhere else in St. Louis,” said Mayo Ketchup owner Mandy Estrella. A Puerto Rican dish, the jibarito was actually popularized in Chicago. Along with visitors from the Windy City, Estrella said the tostones sandwich is also a popular order for anyone with dietary restrictions since it’s naturally gluten free and comes in vegetarian and vegan options.
2001 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2699, plantaingirl.com
If you want to order like a Brazilian at Yemanja Brasil, get the bifé acebolado (strip steak), aipim frito (yucca fries), and don’t forget a caipirinha – Brazil’s favorite cocktail, made with cachaca, muddled lime and sugar. Owner Lemya Sidki said the meal is a little taste of home – especially the bifé acebolado. The strip steak is charbroiled and topped with caramelized onions, served with Brazilian black beans and rice, and sautéed collard greens. “For a Brazilian,” said Sidki, “that’s really their go-to. When I grew up in Brazil, I grew up eating beef every day.”
2900 Missouri Ave., St. Louis, 314.771.7457, yemanjastl.com
Fritanga owner Orlando Hidalgo knows they’re doing something right at St. Louis’ favorite Nicaraguan restaurant – “We’re still here!” he said, after 15 years in business. One of the things that keeps people coming back is the house chimichurri sauce: “I guess people in this city like chimichurri a lot,” he said. Made with loads of parsley, oregano, garlic and olive oil, the condiment serves as marinade, together with sweet and sour orange, for both Fritanga’s popular Churrasco Nica flank steak and the pollo al chimichurri. Hidalgo said customers love pairing these with the Nicaraguan red beans and rice, gallo pinto. But his personal favorite? Another Nicaraguan staple: the decadent tajadas verdes con queso, crispy green plantains topped with fried cheese.
2208 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.664.7777, fritangastl.com
Asador Del Sur
While the flavorful, Uruguayan-style entrana skirt steak is one of Asador Del Sur’s most popular dishes, co-owner Maria Giamportone is more of a seafood person. Her favorite thing to eat is the encocado de mariscos, which she described as “a new dish from Ecuador. “It is something very tropical,” Giamportone continued. The dish features squid, mussels, mahi mahi and shrimp in a shrimp and coconut milk-based sauce flavored with lemongrass, ginger and peanuts – ingredients that Giamportone explained are very common in the northern part of her home country, Ecuador. “It’s filling, the flavor is very different – I haven’t found something like it here,” she said.
7322 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.802.8587, asadordelsur.com
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