Highest Climber Award 2016 - joint winners

This year's Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants sees Don Julio (above left) and 99 (right) as joint Highest Climbers, each rising an impressive 24 places up the list.

Don Julio, Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Traditional steakhouse showing diners what the Argentine asado is all about

What makes it stand out: All the beef at Don Julio is from grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle, raised in the countryside outside Buenos Aires. It is stored in a climate-controlled refrigerator for at least 21 days to reach optimum maturity. Then grillmaster Bienvenido ‘Pepe’ Sotelo cooks all the beef on a traditional “V” iron grill. Match with beautiful Malbec for the full experience.

Typical dishes: While Don Julio serves pretty much every part of the cow, owner Pablo Rivero recommends ordering house cuts like bife de cuadril (rump steak) and entraña (skirt steak). For a starter, opt for the fried beef empanadas and the crispy mollejas (sweetbreads), which are lightly seasoned with just lemon juice and salt.

A brief history: Rivero, the son and grandson of established livestock producers from Rosario, opened the restaurant in 1999 in his early 20s. Now a respected sommelier as well as one of the city’s highest-profiled restaurateurs, his restaurant vies for the title of the premier parrilla in BA.

What’s the dining space like? The building dates to the 19th century, with the interior walls lined with empty wine bottles, converting the rustic space into a welcoming wine sanctuary. Diners from around the world leave their personal mark signing the labels of the great Argentine wines with handwritten messages.

Don Julio
Guatemala 4691 (esquina Gurruchaga)

Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires
+54 11 4831 9564

99, Santiago, Chile

Sophisticated cooking and stunning presentation served in a laid-back dining space

What makes it stand out: Beautifully executed dishes that major on intense flavours extracted from primarily Chilean ingredients.

A word on the chef: Over his young career, Kurt Schmidt has worked at A-list establishments including Noma in Denmark and Azurmendi in Spain, as well as the feted Boragó back home in Santiago. Young, ambitious and highly talented, his reputation is growing fast.

What’s the vibe: Super-casual, but gastronomically sophisticated. Rough-hewn wooden tables and recycled furnishings adorn the dining space, which also features a kitchen counter, behind which the brigade works its magic. There’s a wide terrace opening out onto the bustling Providencia business district. 99 has been dubbed the leader of ‘Chilean bistronomy’ movement.

Typical dishes: ‘Fungal textures’ – mushroom varieties in raw, cooked, powder and puree forms; lamb tongue on a cauliflower puree with prunes and caramel; carrot sorbet with coconut foam and caramalized peanuts. Lunch is more casual, while dinner service is either a six or nine-course tasting menu. The popular Friday lunch offer is always an interpretation of street food.

What else: The drinks offer showcases small-scale Chilean producers majoring on natural and biodynamic wines, forming part of the restaurant’s overall commitment to sustainability.

Andrés de Fuenzalida 99

+56 2 2335 3327

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