South American cuisine is a diverse fusion, with contributions originating from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. It took birth as a fusion of ingredients and cultures of these countries.
As the ingredients are varied and have a regional influence of different European cultures, every cuisine is unique and tastes extraordinary.
If you haven’t ever tasted the uniqueness of South American food, you surely have missed something. And if you have ever dined out in a South American restaurant, you know the feelings and taste.
So what is it you love about South American cuisine?
The Top Picks For South American Restaurants in Houston
We have been researching the best of the abundance of diners, cafes, food trucks, and fine dining venues for you. Now, you can head straight for the ideal destination without having to sieve through thousands of reviews of Latin American Restaurants. Here in our guide, you’ll find some of the best South American restaurants in Houston.
We have taken a look at backstreet gems, romantic restaurants, family-friendly, lively joints, and quick grab-and-go diners. We’ve looked at locations, prices, dietary preferences, and menu size.
So no matter what interests you about South American cuisine, rest assured you will find our guide, perfect for your needs.
So with that, let us take a dive straight in and look at our top picks for American Restaurants in Houston.
Starting off our guide with the fantastic flavors of Churrascos, this is somewhere you will want to visit if you’re celebrating a special occasion or feel like you deserve a treat.
Established in 1988, Churrascos offers bold and intense flavors cooked with “flair and fire.”
They are massive on the grill dishes and steaks; in particular, they run many steak nights, where you can get special offers on some of their famous certified beef. You’re even able to order a steak kit. Meaning you can purchase a choice of four 8oz petite filets or 4 Churrascos steaks. And both accompanied by vegetables, chimichurri, seasonings, Gallo pinto, tres leches, and a bag of plantain chips.
We were blown away with the choice on the main menu, and they serve lunch and a dinner menu, and Sunday brunch.
The menu is exquisite as all of the dishes sound mouth-watering on paper. The choices we had were the same as they appeared on our plates. All of the meat was cooked to perfection, and you can tell that their sauces were made in-house. Plus, the salsa and vegetables were all prepared fresh. Everything was tasty, and the portion sizes were suitable while not becoming over-facing.
There were vegetarian options, although not a huge amount. This is a very meat-focused menu. There is also a children’s menu, a varied dessert menu, and a good selection of beverages, including an extensive wine list, cocktails, and soft drinks.
When it came to prices, as we said earlier, this is one of the higher-end restaurants on our guide, and the price reflects this, with the main courses for dinner costing between $19.99 and $54.95. The quality of food warrants the high price tag, though.
2. Empanadas By Marini
Empanadas By Marini was established in 1985, although the Marini family originally started a business in cooking back in 1971, making the recipes cooked today authentic and unique to the family restaurants.
The main focus of Empanadas’ menu is in the name; it is, of course, the Empanadas. If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a Spanish-style pastry turnover filled with various ingredients. Here, you’ll find many types, so if this is something you’ve never tried, we recommend starting with these guys.
Their gorgeous homemade pastry, combined with the high-quality ingredients they use for the fillings, makes them some, if not THE best ones around.
The options are so vast that you can comfortably dine here with anyone. You can bring children, vegetarians, vegans, or even your fussy eater friends. They just about have everybody covered here.
It was hard to pick a favorite dish, as the options are plentiful. However, with all of them being priced so low (between $3.00 – $3.50), you’re able to get a good selection and try plenty of different flavors by mixing savory and sweet combinations.
There is also a specialty sandwich menu and a salad menu for anyone not wishing to try the empanadas.
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3. Sal y Pimienta
Sal y Pimienta is a rustic and chic restaurant, which puts a modern spin on South American classics. The feel inside this place is authentic and warm, with its heavy interior and decor, dark wood tables, and color schemes. It gives a real sense of atmosphere the minute you set foot inside.
As well as the great ambiance, the food is also out of this world. It feels like a good balance of fine dining combined with good, authentic cooking styles.
Our recommendation was the El Corderito, despite being one of the more expensive menu items, believe us when we say it’s worth the money. This dish is a Frenched CAPRA rack of lamb. It was served with mint chimichurri and carnival potatoes; it was probably one of the best racks of lamb we’d ever eaten. Also, try the braised Buffalo.
Sal y Pimienta offers many set menus, such as the set brunch menu, three courses for $29.99, served on Saturdays between 11 am and 3 pm. There is also a buffet brunch, a set lunch menu, a set dinner menu, and a happy hour pizza menu. The staff here were excellent and made you feel extremely well looked after from start to finish.
The price range here is on the higher side of average. However, there is plenty available in the way of smaller dishes with the more affordable for a casual light lunch, if what you’re looking for. There is a selection of menu items that would be suited to anyone with a vegetarian or vegan diet.
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Batanga is a lively, buzzing restaurant, popular with people of all ages. It offers Latin-style tapas plates, an atmospheric patio area, one of the largest in Downtown Houston, set in an 1880’s saloon.
The menu here has a fine dining element without the fine-dining price tag. The titles of the dishes are classy that give an impression of a high-end restaurant. A lot of care goes into each meal. Moreover, the presentation of the dishes is just unique and beautiful.
Despite the quality of food, and the presentation, and the beautiful surroundings, the prices are incredibly reasonable, with the main courses starting at just £8.00, going up to something like a lovely filet mignon, which is a comfortable $33.00
There is plenty of selection for vegetarians, but not much on offer for vegans, and there are plenty of gluten-free options. We would also recommend trying the meat and cheese selection board and the paella, both suitable for sharing if that’s what you’re looking for.
Check out their website for “Happy Hour,” too, as, during certain hours on some days, you can get some fantastic deals on meat and drink combos.
5. Latin Bites
Latin Bites’ is a Peruvian restaurant serving vibrant, exciting, and authentic cuisine. It is well known for its excellent ceviches, which are some of the best in the area.
They have an exquisite menu with amazing dishes using unique ingredients and flavor combinations.
Our recommendation was a tough pick, but it stood out to us. It was a shredded chicken dish, served with rice. And the rice was served in an almond and pecan sauce, with aji Amarillo.
There is plenty of choice for all dietary preferences here. You can pretty much guarantee to please everyone in your group, no matter your requirements. The staff seemed very friendly. Although when we attended, despite the restaurant not being overly busy, there didn’t seem to be much of a hurry when it came to service. Perhaps not the place to visit if you are in a rush and just more so if you are looking for a chilled dining evening.
The prices are slightly towards the higher end of the scale, and you can expect to spend around £20 on a regular main course. They do often have special offers on, such as “Happy Hour,” and they also serve a good choice of sharing plates which are great if you’re in a group and want to try a bit of everything.
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6. Saldivia’s South American Grill
Saldivias’s South American Grill is a family restaurant that has been passed down through generations. Their dishes are punchy yet delicate and unique, using recipes and flavors from Uruguay and Italy.
The welcome you get when you enter this restaurant immediately makes you feel like a friend of the family, and the atmosphere inside is cheerful and relaxed.
The mixed grill, which we recommended, was gorgeous; it consisted of Vacio (steak), boneless short ribs, sausage, mollejas (sweetbreads,) and morcilla. (also known as black pudding or blood sausage.) They came with a side of fresh vegetables and roast potatoes. The selection was good, and every piece of meat on the plate was cooked to order and cooked to perfection.
They have a lovely wine list, and the staff was accommodating with informing us which wines paired well with the meals we had selected.
They have a vegetarian and vegan option on each section of the menu. These are all presented and cooked to the same standard as the rest of the menu.
There was no children’s menu available at the time of our visit.
The prices were on high end again, due to the high-quality meats and ingredients used, which is clear from the quality of the meals. For a meat dish from the grill, you should expect to spend $14.95 and £38.95 on the main courses.
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7. Pampa Grill and Market
Pampa Grill and Market is a family-owned Argentinian restaurant selling produce from the lands of gauchos, tangos, and vast open landscapes. The word “Pampa” actually means fertile lowland and represents Argentina’s culture and cuisine.
There is an immediate sense of welcome in the restaurant from the friendly staff and owner as they greet and introduce themselves to the customers on the shop floor.
Pampa Grill and Market make all of their bread in-house and serve some of the best parrillas in town, which are very popular with the locals. The grilled meats, steaks and chicken were cooked to perfection. Everything was juicy, well seasoned, and perfectly charred, giving every dish a flavorsome punch. Each dish from the grill comes with two regular sides. The meat is so good that it could easily stand alone and still be worth the money.
As well as our above recommendation, if you feel like splashing the cash, we recommend choosing the mixed Argentinian grill. This consists of grilled beef short ribs, flank steak, chicken, chorizo & blood sausage, served with salad and french fries; it will be up there with one of the best-cooked grills you ever taste. There are four different mixed grills to choose from, and this was the smaller one.
As well as the grills, you also have a good choice of sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta. Although there is no children’s menu, there is plenty available for little ones to choose from, which won’t set you back too much money-wise.
Talking of price tags, we found these guys were exceptionally reasonable, considering, as we know, the price of high-quality meat can be high. Here you can expect to spend anywhere from $6.95 to $76.96 on the main course, depending on your occasion and choice.
We hope that by reading through our guide to the best South American restaurants in Houston, you’ve found something that’s right up your street and tickles your taste buds.