Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2020: the list in pictures

Giulia Sgarbi - 03/12/2020

The list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was revealed on Thursday 3rd December via a virtual awards ceremony. Recognising the excellence and diversity of Latin America’s gastronomic scene in one of the most challenging periods for the global restaurant sector, the eight edition of the list is intended to support restaurants in the region as they enter the crucial next stage of recovery. 

Including six new entries, one re-entry and restaurants across nine countries, this is the ultimate bucket list for foodies in 2021. Explore the list in 50 food photos, all the way down to the establishment voted No.1, The Best Restaurant in Latin America 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.

No.50 Corrutela – New Entry
São Paulo, Brazil

Sustainability is a buzz word throughout the restaurant world, but few Brazilian chefs match up to what 29-year-old César Costa has achieved since 2018 with his planet-friendly restaurant in São Paulo’s bohemian Vila Madalena neighbourhood. Here, the chef creates vegetable-centric dishes with organic local produce, cutting out plastic, composting all waste and using solar energy. 

No.49 Celele – New Entry
Cartagena, Colombia

Despite being only two years old, Celele has become the jewel in the crown of Cartagena’s burgeoning culinary scene. Diners can choose from the à la carte menu, but for the full experience a 10-course tasting menu explores everything the Caribbean has to offer, accompanied by a thoughtful drinks flight of regional craft beers, cocktails made with exotic Colombian fruits, fermented spirits and wines. 

No.48 Nuema – New Entry
Quito, Ecuador

Within a gastronomic culture that is beginning to take hold in Latin America, Nuema stands out. Recovering the roots of the most beloved Ecuadorian traditions, it injects them with creativity and conveys the experience to a contemporary table where the product shines. 

No.47 El Preferido de Palermo – New Entry
Buenos Aires, Argentina

In a large 20th-century house where one of the first restaurants in the neighbourhood was founded, restaurateur Pablo Rivero and chef Guido Tassi set to work. They recovered one of the most emblematic corners of the area, maintaining the essence of a Buenos Aires bodegón. The kitchen, led by head chef Martin Lukesch, focuses on the classic dishes of Buenos Aires, which were influenced by Italian and Spanish immigrants. 

No.46 Ambrosía
Santiago, Chile

Former Best Female Chef Carolina Bazán applies French flair to a market-led menu, creating a masterclass of clean-yet-homely flavours fused together in impeccable fashion. Typical dishes include fresh oysters with orange butter; homemade pasta with Chilean truffle and egg yolk; and wild deer with mushroom purée and vegetables. 

No.45 La Mar
Lima, Peru

Visit La Mar to mix with Lima’s buzzing foodie crowd and sample chef Juan López’s creative repertoire of ceviches that include octopus, sea urchin, shrimp and grouper – along with a pisco sour or two – at this popular concept conceived by the legendary Gastón Acurio. 

No.44 Manu
Curitiba, Brazil

The 20-seat restaurant in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná forms the epicentre of myriad food projects led by the charismatic Manoella Buffara. The menu showcases the region’s vegetables, herbs and seafood, sourced via a network of artisanal producers as well as foraging. The resulting dishes are frequently eaten with the hands in traditional fashion. 

No.43 Aramburu – Re-Entry
Buenos Aires, Argentina

During a 20-course journey, which starts in the main dining room and ends on the upper floor, you will taste the best version of Aramburu’s style, based on the best seasonal products. The food is accompanied by wines selected from the restaurant’s recently added cellar, filled every day with new bottles that are a result of the team’s research into all manner of Argentine winemakers. 

No.42 Maito
Panama City, Panama

You’ll need your passport for Chef Mario Castrellón’s tasting menu, as it runs a whistle-stop journey through Caribbean, Indigenous, Asian, Creole, Afro-Antillean and American cuisine that expresses Panama’s multicultural culinary identity like no other. The casual fine dining experience here is perfectly adapted to the hot weather, with light, exciting dishes. 

No.41 Restaurante 040
Santiago, Chile

There is no other dining experience in Santiago quite like 040, which applies a high level of technical skill to Chile’s rich and varied native ingredients. Its well-hidden location on the lower level of the fashionable Tinto Boutique Hotel in bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood adds to the intrigue of this 40-seat restaurant. 

No.40 Narda Comedor
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Narda Comedor is built around a few simple concepts: eat seasonal, eat vegetables, drink water, try new things and eat well. With the opening of the restaurant in Buenos Aires in 2017, Chef Narda Lepes wanted to show her compatriots what a healthy diet looks like, while proving that it can delight the palate and still offer nutritionally balanced bites. 

No.39 El Baqueano
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fernando Rivarola scours Argentina for smallholders and producers in his quest to unearth native ingredients, such as llama and alligator. Super friendly and relaxed, the dining room is flanked by a traditional wooden bar. The wine list is also accessible but varied in style. 

No.38 Osaka – New Entry
Buenos Aires, Argentina

The brainchild of the late Ciro Watanabe, Osaka has been an emblem of Nikkei cuisine in Buenos Aires since 2005. Its excellence in the search for flavours and techniques makes it a unique destination for lovers of this explosive Peruvian-Japanese style. 

No.37 Mérito – New Entry
Lima, Peru

The organic encounter of two cultures – Venezuelan and Peruvian – in a small and welcoming space defines Mérito. The team’s impeccable use of ingredients from the Peruvian pantry, showcased in creative and ever-evolving preparations, sets the standard. Debuting on the list at No.37, the restaurant is the winner of the Highest New Entry Award 2020, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles. 

No.36 Máximo Bistrot
Mexico City, Mexico 

With a shared passion for great food, chef Eduardo García and his wife Gabriela set up Máximo Bistrot to showcase fresh produce from in and around Mexico City. Up to two thirds of the ingredients come from local farms, including the famed floating gardens of Xochimilco in the city. 

No.35 Mil
Cusco, Peru

Mil is situated in the Sacred Valley, with breath-taking views of the Moray agricultural ruins. A meal at Mil consists of eight courses that explore local ingredients from ecosystems at different altitudes. From the central Andes, there are potatoes, stems, chaco clay and wild chincho; from the Andean forest there is pork belly, avocado and lupinus legume; and from extreme altitude there is alpaca, black quinoa and tree tomato. 

No.34 Gran Dabbang
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Young chef Mariano Ramón has been instrumental in bringing Asia’s wide-ranging street-food scene to Buenos Aires. From a tiny spot in Palermo, he draws on Asian flavours and ingredients and brings them together with Latin American flair to create an original sensory experience. 

No.33 Mocotó
São Paulo, Brazil

Mocotó was opened in 1974 by Rodrigo Oliveira’s father, ‘Seu Zé’, as a neighbourhood bar near the airport, soon gaining a reputation for hearty, tasty food. In 2002, young Rodrigo took over, gradually turning it into the Brazilian gastronomic institution it is today. The signature dish is the tapioca cheese cubes, served with with rennet cheese and sweet and sour pepper jelly. 

No.32 De Patio
Santiago, Chile

Secluded in an upscale house in the bustling Vitacura district of Santiago, De Patio is the creative outlet of chef Benjamín Nast, who is on a mission to break rules and surprise diners with his combination of innovative cooking techniques, high-quality produce and striking presentation. 

No.31 Nicos
Mexico City, Mexico 

A much-loved institution, Nicos has been satisfying Mexicans' stomachs for more than 60 years. Architect-turned-chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo creates dishes that take diners on an odyssey through the country's rich culinary heritage. Try the locally sourced organic pork marinated with chilli, brown sugar and chocolate, accompanied by tamalito corn and corn sprouts. 

No.30 Le Chique
Cancún, Mexico

Jonatan Gómez Luna’s tasting menu offers an exploration of the different tastes and products of Mexico with the intent to ‘puzzle, amuse and amaze’ the diner. Cutting-edge and molecular techniques are employed by Le Chique’s 28-strong culinary team to deconstruct and transform traditional Mexican dishes into new creations. 

No.29 Rafael
Lima, Peru

Rafael Osterling's eponymous restaurant – housed in a beautiful Art Deco townhouse in the chic Miraflores area – celebrates Peru's eclectic and historic food culture. The menu draws on Peru's diverse culinary heritage, fusing traditional native ingredients with Italian, Asian and Nikkei influences. 

No.28 Parador La Huella
José Ignacio, Uruguay

The ultimate in stylised beachside eating, Parador La Huella’s repertoire in grilled seafood led by Vanessa González is second to none, making it a regular summer spot for trendy visitors from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and beyond. 

No.27 Leo
Bogotá, Colombia

Celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa’s flagship restaurant showcases little-known Colombian ingredients such as corozo fruit (a tangy red berry), arrechón (an aphrodisiac drink) and bijao (a banana-like plant), while championing local communities and gastronomic traditions. Since opening Leo she has had a great influence on Colombian cuisine and indeed other cooks, being voted by her peers as the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice in 2020. 

No.26 Evvai
São Paulo, Brazil

Luiz Filipe Souza calls his cuisine ‘Oriundi’, an Italian word referring to immigrants and descendants of Italy all over the world. Using Brazilian produce, he reinterprets immigrant-inspired dishes such as beef tartare with trout eggs from the state of Santa Catarina, or fresh tuna with homemade buffalo stracciatella. 

No.25 Harry Sasson
Bogotá, Colombia

Harry Sasson's eclectic menu blends Latin American, Asian and European flavours. Housed in a mock-Tudor mansion with a stunning bar clad in glass and girders, Harry Sasson is a magnet for Colombia’s rich and famous. But it also manages to retain a welcoming and inclusive feel thanks to warm service and simple, delicious food. 

No.24 Mayta
Lima, Peru

Meaning ‘noble land’ in the native Aymara language, Mayta is a personal and contemporary interpretation of Peruvian cuisine by chef and restaurateur Jaime Pesaque. Its muted tones of grey and earthy browns and simple décor allows the food to shine. After debuting on the list in 2019 at No.49, the restaurant shot up 25 spots earning the Highest Climber Award 2020, sponsored by illycaffé. 

No.23 Maní
São Paulo, Brazil

The restaurant is set in a quaint little former house with large wooden doors in São Paulo’s leafy Jardim Paulistano suburb. Named both Latin America’s and The World’s Best Female Chef in 2014, Maní's Helena Rizzo is one of Brazil’s best-known chefs, as well as a mentor on culinary TV show The Taste Brasil 

No.22 Astrid y Gastón
Lima, Peru

This is where the magic began: the first establishment helmed by chef and patron saint of modern Peruvian cuisine Gastón Acurio – who fortunately jacked in his law degree for hospitality – and pastry chef wife Astrid Gutsche. Star dishes served à la carte or as part of the tasting menu include Peking-style guinea pig bao, grilled octopus with a pseudo-cereal salad and lucuma gnocchi. 

No.21 Lasai
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Visit Lasai for the combination of world-class cooking and a stunning dining space in the Botafogo neighbourhood. The room mixes natural and modern materials with wood from old houses, together with designer lamps. The terrace has a view to the most famous landmark in the city: Christ the Redeemer. 

No.20 Isolina
Lima, Peru

Chef José del Castillo is giving back to Lima the ultimate comfort food experience, recreating the feeling of a mother’s love at the table with delicious and nostalgic food in generous sharing portions. Set in a historic house in Barranco – the favourite area in Lima for bohemians, artists and intellectuals – it has the authentic ambience of an old family home. 

No.19 Chila
Buenos Aires, Argentina

With a focus on seasonal ingredients, traceable produce and Argentina’s multicultural make-up, Chila offers an innovative interpretation of Argentine cuisine. The menu changes seasonally, with 10 different concepts rotating over the months. Highlights include black hake with Jerusalem artichoke; cured beef with yoghurt and chimichurri; or young squid, lettuce and capers. 

No.18 Kjolle
Lima, Peru

Like the bright orange flower that gives the restaurant its name, Kjolle’s dishes are extremely colourful and offer a taste of ingredients from all over Peru. A nine-course chef’s menu works through sea bass with razor clams, a selection of tubers including yucca, olluco and potato, and cured duck with squid, onion and kañiwa (a grain similar to quinoa). 

No.17 Sud 777
Mexico City, Mexico

It’s worth voyaging outside Mexico City’s gastronomic centre for a meal at Sud 777, where chef and co-owner Edgar Nuñez delivers his take on Mexican cuisine, extracting the best from simple ingredients. 

No.16 Tegui
Buenos Aires, Argentina

A smart setting with an equally sophisticated tasting menu, Tegui has put contemporary Argentine cuisine on the map. Street art adorns the façade; step through the discrete black door to encounter a stylish establishment with an open kitchen. Oenophiles will adore the wine cellar for its labels and aesthetics. 

No.15 Alcalde
Guadalajara, Mexico

Chef Francisco ‘Paco’ Ruano’s simple, ‘frank’ Mexican cooking in a stylish, welcoming setting in Guadalajara makes diners want to return again and again. Mexican ingredients dominate Alcalde’s menu, with dishes such as green aguachile with prawn and apple, octopus with recado negro sauce and quail aged in beeswax with mole sauce. 

No.14 Pangea
Monterrey, Mexico

Guillermo González Beristáin’s restaurant has put the northeast of Mexico on the international culinary map by applying modern French cooking techniques to the region's superb local produce. The softly lit brick and polished-wood dining room has a cosy charm, but it's hard to beat a table on the romantic palm-flanked terrace. 

No.13 D.O.M.
São Paulo, Brazil

Former punk and DJ Alex Atala ripped up the rule book in true rock 'n' roll style when he set up D.O.M. in 1999, fusing fine dining with wild and wonderful ingredients from the Amazon basin. High ceilings, slick service and a soothing cream-and-taupe colour scheme make for a pleasantly relaxed space, allowing the fast-paced food to take centre stage. 

No.12 Oteque
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Focused on local products, Alberto Landgraf's cuisine is both precise and inventive. His eight-course tasting menu features creative dishes, layers of flavours and intricate techniques, from his famous signature creations, such as the onion stuffed with uni and served with mussel cream, to a foie gras boudin that became an instant hit. 

No.11 Quintonil
Mexico City, Mexico

Quintonil is the name of a green Mexican herb similar to coriander that features in some of the dishes and cocktails, and pretty much sums up this restaurant: fresh, authentic and brimming with flavour. Chef Jorge Vallejo’s menu is based on local produce and showcases the best of Mexico. 

No.10 Osso
Lima, Peru 

A butcher’s shop and restaurant all rolled into one, Osso is the place to go in Lima for all the best cuts, from perfectly cooked ribeye to flavoured sausages (cheddar, rocotó pepper marmalade and limo chilli). Almost everything is grilled over the barbecue and there’s a casual à la carte as well as a tasting menu to be eaten with the hands only. 

No.9 Rosetta
Mexico City, Mexico

Visit Rosetta for the mixture of beautiful mansion house setting, and Elena Reygadas’ elegant, super-seasonal dishes makes this one of the most romantic – and popular – restaurants in Latin America. 

No.8 Mishiguene
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mishiguene, which means crazy in Yiddish, honours Argentina’s Jewish immigrant heritage by reinventing Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Israeli and Middle Eastern cooking. Here, nouvelle techniques are applied to old world recipes, using the highest-quality ingredients possible. 

No.7 El Chato
Bogotá, Colombia

Chef Alvaro Clavijo’s cooking is influenced by time in Europe and the US, but the produce is Colombian, and the style very much his own. The menu changes according to what’s in season, but usually features classics such as Arroz El Chato, the house rice with chicken and vegetables, as well as mushroom tartare and squid-ink-stained rice crisps with crab. 

No.6 Boragó
Santiago, Chile

Boragó deals in ‘territory rather than technique’, according to chef-owner Rodolfo Guzmán. He and his energetic team source native Chilean products used by the Mapuche indigenous people to create Endémica, a menu starring diverse preparations that can change during the course of an evening according to produce supply, paired with natural and biodynamic wine or juices. 

No.5 Pujol
Mexico City, Mexico

Enigmatic chef Enrique Olvera is credited with proving that rustic Mexican flavours deserve as much attention as any other haute cuisine in the world. Pujol has been his pedestal to make that point via a tasting menu of refined and elegant plates built from indigenous ingredients that pay tribute to Mexico’s rich culinary history, winning the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2020. 

No.4 A Casa do Porco
São Paulo, Brazil

A carnivore’s idea of heaven, A Casa do Porco means ‘House of the Pig’ in Portuguese, and with everything from crunchy chunks of pancetta crackling to pork tartare, it’s a true porcine pilgrimage, with all meat 100% Brazilian. 

No.3 Central
Lima, Peru

Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant is a shrine to all things Peruvian, including many ingredients that are seldom seen elsewhere. The husband-and-wife team have been travelling the length and breadth of the country for several years to source interesting and unique produce from land, sea and mountains. Central is recognised with the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2020. 

No.2 Maido
Lima, Peru

When Peru meets Japan on the plate, Nikkei is born – and chef Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura is a world leader in this style of cuisine. This translates to a welcoming spot where fresh fish and citrus-packed sauces reign supreme. No wonder it was voted The Best Restaurant in Latin America for three years in a row, from 2017 to 2019, and in 2020 retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Peru. 

No.1 Don Julio
Buenos Aires, Argentina

A building dating back to end of the 19th century and an emblem of the Palermo neighbourhood is the setting for this immersion into Argentine culture. At Don Julio, the grill takes centre stage and everything combines perfectly for diners to discover the cuisine that represents Argentina in a single meal. Pablo Rivero, a restaurateur since he was 20 years old, dedicated his career perfecting Don Julio and showing the world the culinary landscape of his country, now taking Don Julio to the ultimate gastronomic heights as The Best Restaurant in Latin America 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. 

Now recap the whole list from No.50 to No.1 in the video:

The list of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2020 was announced on December 3, 2020, via a virtual awards ceremony you can rewatch on Facebook and YouTube. To stay up to date with the latest news, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.