After experiencing a mediocre meal at a new South American restaurant followed by a rather middling lunchtime experience at another recommended South American restaurant, I thought it would be useful to put together a list of the ten best South American restaurants in Houston. South American has been a rather neglected category in the city, at least in terms of local publicity.
Popular “South American” restaurants have been around for a while, mostly in the guise of the Cordua family restaurants; first Churrascos, then Americas, Amazon Grill and Artista. Though deservedly well-liked, the food at these restaurants really reflects the Nicaraguan homeland of the proprietors rather the lands further south. Though confusing many diners, these restaurants have helped expand the city’s collective palate, introduce wines from Chile and later Argentina, and helped pave the wave for similar tastes and preparations from northern South America and elsewhere.
The best known of the truly South American restaurants here are the churrascarias, the all-you-can-eat steakhouses from southern Brazil. There are several chains in Houston that serve Brazilian cuts of beef steak and the meat of other smaller mammals from gaucho-clad waiters in expansive settings. Most are actually quite good, and have resonated among diners here as they have throughout much of the US. But, there is much more in Houston in terms of South American cooking, which is home to a large number of expatriates from all over South America. Most of the restaurants largely serve their immigrant communities, the steakhouses in at least a couple of guises are a notable exception. Among the South American establishments here there is even at least one Brazilian restaurant that is not an all-you-can-eat beef emporium (though named Emporio). There is a good amount of culinary diversity found across South American, some of it is represented fairly aptly in Houston.
The ten best South American restaurants in Houston below are listed alphabetically.