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Delicious Latin cuisines continue to spice up restaurant menus all across the country. The diversity of authentic flavors celebrates dining traditions that represent a wonderful spectrum of countries and cultures. From condiments and rubs to marinades, Latin American cooking serves as restaurant menu inspiration.
What Is Latin Cuisine?
When you hear familiar Latin food names like tacos and enchiladas, you usually think of Mexican food. The two are famous Latin American dishes for good reason, but Latin cuisine also extends through Central and South America.
The regions have many ingredients in common. Chiles, beans and corn are staples. Fresh seafood is a favorite too. Mexican cuisine is earthy and spicy, while Central American foods incorporate tropical tastes. Hearty South American dishes blend Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences.
Latin cuisine stands out as a unique culinary style because it offers so much. It provides an exciting range of ingredients and flavors that bring out the creativity in commercial kitchens. It also keeps dining room guests happy with a multiplicity of enticing selections.
10 Latin Menu Ideas That Belong in Your Restaurant
Latin American food recipes feature remarkable versatility. Simple modifications and savory substitutions transform any dish into a house specialty. Inspire your kitchen staff with these 10 Latin American culinary ideas.
1. The Freshest Seafood Ceviche
Seafood ceviche is one of the most popular Latin American appetizers. It’s an excellent menu choice that lets the kitchen design starters around fresh seafood available from local sources and national vendors. Customers look forward to seasonal change-ups that make fresh ceviche a favorite.
2. Easy Mariquita Chips
Bountiful bowls of crisp mariquita chips pair perfectly with your bar’s happiest hours. They’re great snacks for casual dining rooms too. From prep to table in 20 minutes, the Cuban snacks showcase green plantains as irresistible finger foods. Just side with your best housemade dips.
3. South American Pasteis
It’s hard to improve on empanadas, but Brazilian pasties put an extra crunch in the original dish. Authentic South American street food recipes wrap a delicate pastie dough around different meat and vegetable combinations. The results are tender fried pies with rich, creamy fillings.
4. Mexican Tacos With a Twist
It’s easy to elevate the beloved taco from its street food roots. It’s even easier to impress customers with updated taco ingredients. Put these tasty classics on the menu served in a variety of healthy shells. Think outside traditional tortillas with ideas like baby iceberg lettuce leaves, pita pockets and grilled gluten-free shells.
5. Oaxacan Mole Sauces
One of Oaxaca’s most celebrated culinary specialties compliments everything. Side your restaurant’s best Latin American dishes with one of the country’s world-renowned moles. Mole negro is probably the most famous of these rich sauces, but amarillo, verde and rojo also show off mole’s tantalizing versatility.
6. Brazilian Churrasco Barbecue
This open-flame cooking style goes back more than 400 years when Brazil’s working cowboys applied it to beef, poultry, pork, chicken and seafood. It’s simple to prep and simply delicious. Grill different entrees over medium heat, and present as churrasco skewers served table-side with gaucho flair. Be sure to include a fiery chimichurri sauce.
7. Classic Mexican Soups
Turn a warm, comforting bowl of sopa into an updated classic on your restaurant menu. Traditional Hispanic recipes include ingredients as varied as fava beans, tangy crema and blackened chiles. Creamy sopa azteca is a prized Mexican soup that adds the crunch of fried tortilla strips to silky tomato-based soup.
8. An Authentic Latin Feast
When private parties book reservations, it’s your opportunity to serve a memorable meal. Make your in-house catering options unique by offering an authentic Latin dinner party menu. Fill bountiful buffet tables with tostadas, tacos, tamales and enchiladas. It’s a crowd-pleasing strategy that inspires kitchen creativity and repeat business.
9. Sweet, Chewy Churros
They’re dessert and a finger food. They’re fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Chewy churros always prompt a sweet smile from restaurant customers. Young diners especially enjoy these fun-to-eat Latin treats. Make your churros an indulgent house favorite with different dipping sauces that delight dessert lovers of all ages.
10. Signature Tres Leches Cake
One of the most well-known Latin American dessert recipes is the tres leches cake. Made with condensed, evaporated and whole milk, it’s rich enough to hold a special place on the dessert tray. Add fresh fruit, flavored whipped cream or a sweet glaze, and the cake becomes your restaurant’s signature dessert.
A Place on Every Menu
There’s a place on every restaurant menu for authentic Latin American cuisine. From fast casual to upscale dining, it’s a perfect fit for showcasing new dishes and updating customer favorites.
Fresh produce plays an important role in this popular menu choice. We grow and supply some of the very best. Here at Hitchcock Farms, we’re proud to support the foodservice industry as one of your most trusted produce providers.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.