Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018: Complete List & Analysis : New Worlder

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2018 were just announced in Bogotá, Colombia and as always there are some surprises. Since the list launched in Lima, Peru six years ago, with Astrid y Gastón taking the number one spot, only Peruvian restaurants have taken the top spot. For the second year in a row, Maido, topped the list, followed by Central, also in Lima, and Mexico City’s Pujol.

Colombia and Argentina Make Moves

There was less movement this year than in years past, though there were a few surprises. Colombian restaurants fared well, with crowd favorite El Chato from Bogota was the highest new entry, at #21. Leonor Espinosa’s Leo is now at number 10 and Villanos en Bermudas is at #15.

From Argentina, Buenos Aires parrilla Don Julio rose all the way to number #5, one of the very few restaurants without a tasting menu. Other Buenos Aires’ restaurants also did well, such as highest climber Mishiguene (#18) and new entries Gran Dabang (#38) and Narda Comedor (#46).

Locations are Becoming Concentrated to a Few Cities

Much of the list is now limited to a handful of large cities: Lima, Mexico City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, San Paulo, etc. This is a structural flaw with the list that I’m not sure can even be fixed. There have been a few restaurants break out from elsewhere, like Maito in Panama, but most others, such as Gustu in Bolivia and Alto in Caracas, two restaurants that should probably be well ranked in the list, have fallen off. There are no longer restaurants in Paraguay and Uruguay is down to just one. Central America is still being almost entirely ignored even though there are restaurants in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and several others in Panama that deserve recognition. Ecuador has never been on the list either, and a few restaurants there should be considered. Even in countries like Peru and Brazil, restaurants outside the largest cities are mostly missing. The one exception was in Mexico, where there were restaurants in the Valle de Guadalupe, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Cancun.

Still Mostly Male Chefs

Despite the complaints each year of the list being dominated by restaurants run by mostly male chefs, there has been no shift towards a more gender balanced list. Shouldn’t Manu Buffara, named “The One to Watch,” already be on the list? Isn’t Pia León actually the best chef in Latin America, not just the best female chef? There was one new female chef to appear, however, Narda Lepes of Narda Comedor in Buenos Aires.

More Chefs Are Staying Home

In the first edition of the Latin America 50 Best Restaurant list, 49 of the 50 nominated chefs attended (Francis Mallmann was the one holdout). This year many of the biggest names stayed home, including Alex Atala, Gastón Acurio, Fer Rivarola, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, and Alberto Landgraf.

Sustainability

At the 50 Best Talks Argentine chefs like Narda Lepes and Pablo Rivero insisted that the world needed to eat less meat, while Mexico’s Edgar Nuñez explained his work with alternative proteins, such as insects. Few restaurants on the list lack some sort of message surrounding sustainability, from Central’s dishes built around ecosystems to A Casa do Porco’s work using all parts of the pig. While the actual impact any single restaurant actually has is debatable, sustainability becoming a norm is still a positive step.

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018: The Complete List

1. Maido – Lima, Peru

2. Central – Lima, Peru

3. Pujol – Mexico City, Mexico

4. Boragó – Santiago, Chile

5. D.O.M. – São Paulo, Brazil

6. Don Julio – Buenos Aires, Argentina

7. A Casa do Porco – São Paulo, Brazil

8. Astrid y Gastón – Lima, Peru

9. Quintonil – Mexico City, Mexico

10. Leo -Bogotá, Colombia

11. Tegui – Buenos Aires, Argentina

12. Maní – São Paulo, Brazil

13. Isolina – Lima, Peru

14. Sud 777 – Mexico City, Mexico

15. Villanos en Bermudas – Bogotá, Colombia

16. Rafael – Lima, Peru

17. La Mar – Lima, Peru

18. Mishiguene – Buenos Aires, Argentina

19. Chila – Buenos Aires, Argentina

20. Máximo Bistrot – Mexico City, Mexico

21. El Chato – Bogotá, Colombia NEW ENTRY

22. Parador La Huella – Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

23. Harry Sasson – Bogotá, Colombia

24. Ambrosia – Santiago, Chile

25. Osso – Lima, Peru

26. Lasai – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

27. Olympe – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

28. 99 – Santiago, Chile

29. Maito – Panama City, Panama

30. Pangea – Monterrey, Mexico

31. Alcalde – Guadalajara, Mexico

32. Elena – Buenos Aires, Argentina

33. Oteque – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil NEW ENTRY

34. Le Chique – Cancun, Mexico NEW ENTRY

35. Corazón de Tierra – Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

36. El Baqueano – Buenos Aires, Argentina

37. Nicos – Mexico City, Mexico

38. Gran Dabbang – Buenos Aires, Argentina NEW ENTRY

39. Malabar – Lima, Peru

40. La Docena – Guadalajara, Mexico

41. Rosetta – Mexico City, Mexico

42. Aramburu – Buenos Aires, Argentina

43. Restaurante 040 – Santiago, Chile

44. Proper – Buenos Aires, Argentina

45. Mocotó – São Paulo, Brazil

46. Narda Comedor – Buenos Aires, Argentina NEW ENTRY

47. Osaka – Santiago, Chile RE-ENTRY

48. Amaz – Lima, Peru

49. Oro – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil NEW ENTRY

50. Tuju – São Paulo, Brazi

Header image courtesy Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, October 2018.