Ingredients vary widely, depending on the region; in the rainforests there are coconut, mango, avocado and guava, in the highlands are potatoes and rice. Pork, beef, and chicken are the primary meats, as well as fish from the coastal regions. The flavors tend to be bold and range from mild to intensely spicy.
Partly because of its rich variety, Latin American cuisine is the second most popular ethnic cuisine in the U.S., behind Italian. Locally, the selections are rather limited, but Austin has some places that serve Latin American food prepared in the traditional manner.
How about Mexican restaurants? Although Mexican food is generally considered Latin American cuisine, this site has a separate page devoted to that topic.
1614 E. 7th St., Austin TX 78702
(512) 495-9425 map website
A small, kind of beat up building in not a real good part of town. But one of the few places to get good Colombian food. For appetizers, the beef arepa is made with corn dough with shredded beef. The empanada is also a good choice. For entrees, Ropa Vieja, shredded beef with red wine sauce, rice, and fried plantains, is delicious. Also good is the Pechuga Rellena (stuffed chicken with plantains and mashed potatoes) and Pabellon (shredded beef, white rice, black beans, and plantains). Their mimosas (fruit drinks) are also recommended. Very friendly service.
Al Sur Latin American Bistro
8120 Research Blvd., Austin TX 78757
(512) 419-7554 map website
Another small, drearily decorated restaurant that serves great Latin American food. Possibly the best Cuban sandwich in Austin, piled with pulled pork, ham, cheese, and roasted sweet tomato salsa. Also recommended are the Tacos de Conchinita al Achiote, the filet mignon, chicken burrito, and the skirt steak sandwich. The empanadas are a good appetizer, and the shrimp soup is also good. Staff is knowledgeable and takes obvious pride in their food.
Cuban Sandwich Cafe
9616 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 141, Austin TX 78753
(512) 669-5242 map website
Besides great Cuban sandwiches, they have other good Caribbean and Latin American food. The maduros (fried plantains) and fried yucca are recommended. Also good are the Cubanito burger, Ropa Vieja (stewed beef), chicken tacos, Cuban tamales, and pork chops. Owner is very personable and helpful in making selections.
Costa Del Sol Restaurant
7901 Cameron Rd. Ste. 4, Austin TX 78754
(512) 832-5331 map
Inexpensive, tasty, authentic Latin American (Salvadorian) food here. Large servings. Quesadillas, Yucca Frita plate, fried yucca and pork, pupusas (corn dough with pork or beans and cheese) are all good choices. If you can’t choose, there’s a combination platter available. Also serves excellent tacos. Small building and hard to find as it’s next to a closed gas station, and hidden among other buildings.
Need more choices?
View the map below for other Latin-American restaurant choices in and around Austin.
Click here for a list and map of Austin Latin-American restaurants (opens in a new tab).
Austin Latin-American Restaurant News
Pollo Campero opened first Austin restaurant
Pollo Campero, a Guatemala-based fast-food chain known throughout Central and South America for Latin-American style fried chicken, opened a branch in Austin early in 2014 at 907 E. St. John's Ave. ""We are excited to become part of the Austin business community," said Lisken Kastalanych, Campero's vice president of marketing.
Do you have a favorite Latin American or Caribbean restaurant in Austin? Or do you have a story about such a restaurant, maybe one of the restaurants listed on this page? Tell us about your favorite restaurant, or share your story here.