After moving to Paris from Puerto Rico, I tried to find ways to feel close to home even if I was thousands of miles away. As a Puerto Rican with Mexican roots, home has always meant many things to me. The one thing that has always tied these things together is food.
On my first wave of homesickness, I decided rather than mope about, I would find something familiar such as a plate of delicious tacos al pastor, or some tostones (fried, salty plantains) coupled with a refreshing Jarritos (a Mexican soft drink brand). It turned out that food was indeed the missing piece of the puzzle.
Whether you are suffering from homesickness, or are just searching for great Latin American food in Paris, here are my go-to spots.
I don’t know about you, but I’m an appetizer person and let me tell you, these left me speechless. Back home, a personal favorite has always been tostones. Ají Dulce’s hit the mark.
Another must-try is their Venezuelan delicacy tequeños – fried, breaded cheese that look like mozzarella sticks but… better!
While their starters are delicious, the stars of the show are their arepas. Arepas are patties made from white-corn that are oven cooked and stuffed with virtually anything. I suggest you try La Pabellón, an arepa stuffed with traditional pulled beef, homemade black beans and some decadent fried sweet plantains.
Make sure to save room for something sweet, and sample their tres leches (a sponge cake made of a variety of milk products), you will thank me later!
Tiny El Nopal is one of the best and most authentic taquerías in Paris situated near the Canal St. Martin. You can find me sitting along the Canal, with a taquito de Cochinita Pibil in one hand and a margarita in the other!
Their gorditas are another staple. Similar to arepas, gorditas are a dish made from corn dough, like a tortilla, stuffed with a variety of items such as beans, cheese or meat—absolutely heavenly!
For starters, you must order the picadita platter! An assortment of empanadas, chicharrones (pork rinds), yuca and patacones (fried plantains) with a spicy ají (chili pepper) sauce. It’s the perfect appetizer to share with friends!
And make sure not to leave Mi Ranchito Paisa without trying its famous bandeja paisa, if you dare! The bandeja paisa is a traditional Colombian dish that has rice with red beans, chorizo, minced meat, an arepa, plantain, chicharrón, avocado and a fried egg that goes on top. While this dish may leave you feeling like you won’t be able to eat for days, it’s worth it!
Empanadas are all the rage in Paris. To my surprise, I have even found some in various chain supermarkets. That said, Clasico Argentino is the place I go for my empanada fix.
A soft pocket dough that is stuffed with various fillings, empanadas are found all over Latin America. In Argentina, empanadas are typically stuffed with ground beef, ham and cheese, chicken or vegetables.
For traditional Argentinian empanadas make sure to try their Choriempa or Cordobesa. The menu is filled with many choices but these two always satisfy my cravings.
To finish the meal don’t miss their alfajores – soft cornstarch cookies that hold the dulce de leche filling together and are then rolled in coconut flakes. A typical Argentinian dessert!
Inside the 1K boutique hotel, you will find one of the best Peruvian restaurants in Paris. Japanese cuisine has greatly influenced Peruvian food. At INKA, they highlight this by including ingredients such as wasabi, soy sauce and ginger to the mix.
On their menu, you will find many different types of ceviche and tiraditos (a Peruvian dish made of raw fish coated in a spicy sauce – similar to sashimi or carpaccio). Their food (and their pisco sour, an alcoholic cocktail made from Pisco and some lime juice) is simply beyond compare!
If you need an extra drink on your visit, make your way through the kitchen and you’ll find a secret door leading to a hidden bar called La Mezcaleria. It’s the perfect spot to reminisce about all the incredible Latin food you have eaten.
Next time you are in Paris and your stomach craves some tacos or arepas, you will know where to go!
Ají Dulce – 19 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 75009 Paris
Mi Ranchito Paisa – 35 Rue de Montholon, 75009 Paris
Clasico Argentino – 56 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris (Marais)
El Nopal – 5 Rue Duperré, 75009 (Pigalle) / 3 Rue Eugène Varlin, 75010 Paris (Canal Saint Martin)
INKA – 13 Bd du Temple, 75003 Paris
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