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Pollo Bravo’s Tallarines Verdes chicken plantains
Christina Autry/EHOU

13 Houston Restaurants Serving Stellar Central and South American Cuisine

Where to find flaky empanadas, perfect arepas, juicy rotisserie chickens, and so much more

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Pollo Bravo’s Tallarines Verdes chicken plantains
| Christina Autry/EHOU

Thanks to the incredible diversity of Houston’s dining scene, there’s no shortage of restaurants serving cuisines that hail from different parts of the globe. That’s particularly true when it comes to South and Central American cuisine — on any given day, diners in Houston have access to plenty of options for stellar cuisine with roots in El Salvador, Argentina, Peru, Honduras, and Mexico.

At these 13 Houston restaurants, perfectly flaky empanadas, juicy rotisserie chickens, ceviche, and more classic South and Central American favorites await, along with plenty of modern interpretations of traditional dishes.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Asturias Bakery Café

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3856 S Dairy Ashford Rd
Houston, TX 77082
(281) 920-3759
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Blink and you might miss this small Argentinian bakery, offering serve-yourself baked facturas (Argentine pastries) formed in unique shapes. Grab some tongs and see how many different breads and sweets you end up with in your basket. It’s best not to resist the sweet temptations behind the glass, featuring chocolate, custard, caramel, or cherries in various baked forms. Other craveable delights here are the empanadas, sandwiches, and Argentine coffee.

Photo: Christina Autry/EHOU

2. The Houston Farmers Market

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2520 Airline Dr
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 862-8866
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The Houston Farmers Market has been a Bayou City institution since its establishment in 1942. The extensive complex, which has announced plans for an exciting revamp, includes a variety of outdoor Latin American produce stands including Junior’s Produce. Behind Junior’s awaits a maze of vendors, selling both food and novelties from South America. Perusing the nopales (cactus pads), sacks of herbal remedies, delicious mangoes, and foot-long sticks of cinnamon is something that every Houstonian should experience.

Christina Autry/EHOU

3. The Original Marini's Empanada House

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10001 Westheimer Rd #2570
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 266-2729
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Marini’s is understandably packed at lunchtime, with customers spending their wait time studying the enormous menu of sweet and savory empanadas. Trying a variety of flavors is the best bet here, from the meat-stuffed Chuckwagon, to the New Yorker with broccoli, cream sauce, and cheese and the irresistible dessert empanadas like Dulce de Leche.

Christina Autry/EHOU

4. Sweets by Belen

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6001 Hillcroft St ste 400
Houston, TX 77081
(832) 203-7565
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Sweets by Belen may be tiny, but it more than makes up for its size with its wide array of amazing Peruvian desserts, and its cute factor. Walking into this haven of sweets means being surrounded in pink flowery décor and being eyed by a stuffed llama. Make sure to try the alfajores, soft and sweet cookies filled with gooey caramel.

Christina Autry/EHOU

5. Andes Cafe

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2311 Canal St #104
Houston, TX 77003
(832) 659-0063
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Hidden away in Eado’s Warehouse District, Andes Café will give you Houston’s best culinary tour of South America. The menu indicates which country bordering the Andes Mountains each dish originates from. Along with its hearty brunch menu and small plates selection, Andes Café is unique in Houston for one specialty dishes in particular: deep fried guinea pig. The ceviche, bistec a caballo, and lomo saltado are equally compelling choices. During lunch, definitely order the Executive option, which buys 3 courses for less than $20.

6. Dodo's Chicken

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9431 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77063
(713) 789-3636
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Dodo’s Chicken is a hidden rotisserie gem, and happens to be one of several Colombian restaurants on that particular block of Richmond. The chicken comes out tender and juicy, and only gets better with the addition of their homemade creamy and spicy dipping sauces. A side of fried, sweet plantains is something you should never pass up, and this is no exception. Arepas and fried yucca add a classic Colombian touch to this satisfying meal.

Christina Autry/EHOU

7. Hawallano Restaurant Sea Food

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1521 Gessner Rd
Houston, TX 77080
(713) 497-5477

Hawallano excels in preparing large, handmade pupusas stuffed with meat, beans, and cheese, and they’re served with traditional curtido, El Salvador’s beloved crunchy fermented cabbage slaw. The pupusas alone are worth the trip down Gessner, but the sweet fried plantains stand out as some of the city’s best.

Christina Autry/EHOU

8. Las Brasas Charcoal Chicken

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2712 Eldridge Pkwy #102
Houston, TX 77082
(346) 754-5185
Visit Website

Pollo a la brasa is a style of cooking chicken with origins in Lima, Peru. Behind the counter at Las Brasas, you’ll see an 800 degree oven, fueled with charcoal, slowly browning more than 15 plump chickens simultaneously by rotating them on metal spits over open flames. The chicken is served in quarters, halves, or whole, with your choice of sides, including yucca, fried plantains, and more. If you’re wanting to branch out from chicken, try the tallarin verde (Peruvian pesto pasta), or the Lomo Saltado, stir-fried beef with cilantro rice and French fries. Yes, French fries are hugely popular in Latin America.

Christina Autry/EHOU

9. Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant

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1806 Wirt Rd
Houston, TX 77055
(713) 812-7124
Visit Website

This Honduran restaurant is the definition of a hidden gem, but deserves to be seen, and tasted. The sweet, orange sauce poured over the Pincho Res (beef skewers) makes for a deliciously unique pairing and should not be missed. The salty cheese served on the side will take your taste buds straight to Central America, and the crispy, meat-stuffed pastelitos are the cherry on top.

Christina Autry/EHOU

10. Parrilla Colombiana

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6053 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77081
(713) 666-0330
Visit Website

Hidden in a Bissonnet strip center, this restaurant prepares traditional Colombian dishes, plus some Latin American fusion. The bandeja paisa, one of the most popular meals in Colombia, is served here, complete with the essential elements of chicharron, beef, fried egg, beans, arepa, rice, plantains, chorizo, and sausage. If this isn’t hearty enough, a side of empanadas with Mexican-style hot sauce will be sure to fill any remaining stomach space. Spanish paella, and churrasco are among the not-strictly-Colombian, but Latin American dishes that the restaurant offers.

Christina Autry/EHOU

11. Pollo Bravo

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10085 Long Point Rd
Houston, TX 77055
(713) 461-3113
Visit Website

Pollo Bravo creates an irresistible blend of Peruvian and Mexican flavors at its locations around Houston. The namesake chicken is perfectly tender and juicy, and it’s paired with some truly stunning sides. Plantains, tortillas, flavorful beans, and tallarines verdes make for a delightfully filling feast.  (Multiple locations)

Christina Autry/EHOU

12. Pampa Grill and Market

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10111 Hammerly Blvd
Houston, TX 77080
(713) 722-0666
Visit Website

Pampa serves up traditional meaty Argentinian dishes, like the unmissable grilled Parrillada for you and a group of hungry friends. Milanesas, a common Argentinian breaded meat comes in many varieties here, with toppings like eggs, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and more. Featured at the front of the store are shelves of sundries from South America that you won’t find in the average grocery stores.

Christina Autry/EHOU

13. Saldivia's South American Grill

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10850 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 782-9494
Visit Website

Saldivia’s is a stylish, modern steakhouse serving ribeyes, parrilladas, chimichurri and empanadas worthy of a fine dining experience. This Latin American grill is a meat-lovers paradise, perfect for special occasions.

1. Asturias Bakery Café

3856 S Dairy Ashford Rd, Houston, TX 77082
Photo: Christina Autry/EHOU

Blink and you might miss this small Argentinian bakery, offering serve-yourself baked facturas (Argentine pastries) formed in unique shapes. Grab some tongs and see how many different breads and sweets you end up with in your basket. It’s best not to resist the sweet temptations behind the glass, featuring chocolate, custard, caramel, or cherries in various baked forms. Other craveable delights here are the empanadas, sandwiches, and Argentine coffee.

3856 S Dairy Ashford Rd
Houston, TX 77082

2. The Houston Farmers Market

2520 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009
Christina Autry/EHOU

The Houston Farmers Market has been a Bayou City institution since its establishment in 1942. The extensive complex, which has announced plans for an exciting revamp, includes a variety of outdoor Latin American produce stands including Junior’s Produce. Behind Junior’s awaits a maze of vendors, selling both food and novelties from South America. Perusing the nopales (cactus pads), sacks of herbal remedies, delicious mangoes, and foot-long sticks of cinnamon is something that every Houstonian should experience.

2520 Airline Dr
Houston, TX 77009

3. The Original Marini's Empanada House

10001 Westheimer Rd #2570, Houston, TX 77042
Christina Autry/EHOU

Marini’s is understandably packed at lunchtime, with customers spending their wait time studying the enormous menu of sweet and savory empanadas. Trying a variety of flavors is the best bet here, from the meat-stuffed Chuckwagon, to the New Yorker with broccoli, cream sauce, and cheese and the irresistible dessert empanadas like Dulce de Leche.

10001 Westheimer Rd #2570
Houston, TX 77042

4. Sweets by Belen

6001 Hillcroft St ste 400, Houston, TX 77081
Christina Autry/EHOU

Sweets by Belen may be tiny, but it more than makes up for its size with its wide array of amazing Peruvian desserts, and its cute factor. Walking into this haven of sweets means being surrounded in pink flowery décor and being eyed by a stuffed llama. Make sure to try the alfajores, soft and sweet cookies filled with gooey caramel.

6001 Hillcroft St ste 400
Houston, TX 77081

5. Andes Cafe

2311 Canal St #104, Houston, TX 77003

Hidden away in Eado’s Warehouse District, Andes Café will give you Houston’s best culinary tour of South America. The menu indicates which country bordering the Andes Mountains each dish originates from. Along with its hearty brunch menu and small plates selection, Andes Café is unique in Houston for one specialty dishes in particular: deep fried guinea pig. The ceviche, bistec a caballo, and lomo saltado are equally compelling choices. During lunch, definitely order the Executive option, which buys 3 courses for less than $20.

2311 Canal St #104
Houston, TX 77003

6. Dodo's Chicken

9431 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77063
Christina Autry/EHOU

Dodo’s Chicken is a hidden rotisserie gem, and happens to be one of several Colombian restaurants on that particular block of Richmond. The chicken comes out tender and juicy, and only gets better with the addition of their homemade creamy and spicy dipping sauces. A side of fried, sweet plantains is something you should never pass up, and this is no exception. Arepas and fried yucca add a classic Colombian touch to this satisfying meal.

9431 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77063

7. Hawallano Restaurant Sea Food

1521 Gessner Rd, Houston, TX 77080
Christina Autry/EHOU

Hawallano excels in preparing large, handmade pupusas stuffed with meat, beans, and cheese, and they’re served with traditional curtido, El Salvador’s beloved crunchy fermented cabbage slaw. The pupusas alone are worth the trip down Gessner, but the sweet fried plantains stand out as some of the city’s best.

1521 Gessner Rd
Houston, TX 77080

8. Las Brasas Charcoal Chicken

2712 Eldridge Pkwy #102, Houston, TX 77082
Christina Autry/EHOU

Pollo a la brasa is a style of cooking chicken with origins in Lima, Peru. Behind the counter at Las Brasas, you’ll see an 800 degree oven, fueled with charcoal, slowly browning more than 15 plump chickens simultaneously by rotating them on metal spits over open flames. The chicken is served in quarters, halves, or whole, with your choice of sides, including yucca, fried plantains, and more. If you’re wanting to branch out from chicken, try the tallarin verde (Peruvian pesto pasta), or the Lomo Saltado, stir-fried beef with cilantro rice and French fries. Yes, French fries are hugely popular in Latin America.

2712 Eldridge Pkwy #102
Houston, TX 77082

9. Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant

1806 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Christina Autry/EHOU

This Honduran restaurant is the definition of a hidden gem, but deserves to be seen, and tasted. The sweet, orange sauce poured over the Pincho Res (beef skewers) makes for a deliciously unique pairing and should not be missed. The salty cheese served on the side will take your taste buds straight to Central America, and the crispy, meat-stuffed pastelitos are the cherry on top.

1806 Wirt Rd
Houston, TX 77055

10. Parrilla Colombiana

6053 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77081
Christina Autry/EHOU

Hidden in a Bissonnet strip center, this restaurant prepares traditional Colombian dishes, plus some Latin American fusion. The bandeja paisa, one of the most popular meals in Colombia, is served here, complete with the essential elements of chicharron, beef, fried egg, beans, arepa, rice, plantains, chorizo, and sausage. If this isn’t hearty enough, a side of empanadas with Mexican-style hot sauce will be sure to fill any remaining stomach space. Spanish paella, and churrasco are among the not-strictly-Colombian, but Latin American dishes that the restaurant offers.

6053 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77081

11. Pollo Bravo

10085 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Christina Autry/EHOU

Pollo Bravo creates an irresistible blend of Peruvian and Mexican flavors at its locations around Houston. The namesake chicken is perfectly tender and juicy, and it’s paired with some truly stunning sides. Plantains, tortillas, flavorful beans, and tallarines verdes make for a delightfully filling feast.  (Multiple locations)

10085 Long Point Rd
Houston, TX 77055

12. Pampa Grill and Market

10111 Hammerly Blvd, Houston, TX 77080
Christina Autry/EHOU

Pampa serves up traditional meaty Argentinian dishes, like the unmissable grilled Parrillada for you and a group of hungry friends. Milanesas, a common Argentinian breaded meat comes in many varieties here, with toppings like eggs, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and more. Featured at the front of the store are shelves of sundries from South America that you won’t find in the average grocery stores.

10111 Hammerly Blvd
Houston, TX 77080

13. Saldivia's South American Grill

10850 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

Saldivia’s is a stylish, modern steakhouse serving ribeyes, parrilladas, chimichurri and empanadas worthy of a fine dining experience. This Latin American grill is a meat-lovers paradise, perfect for special occasions.

10850 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77042

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