Oct 15th, 2020, 08:00 AM

Discover Latin American Cuisine in Paris

By Sofia Quintero
Image Credit: Unsplash via Markus Winkler
As a Latina living in Paris, I made it my mission to find Latin American cuisine around Paris. From arepas and ceviches to empanadas, these restaurants will transport you to Latin America without leaving the French capital.

What image pops into your head when you think about Paris and cuisine? For most people, I guess that the scent of a freshly baked pain au chocolat or a steaming soupe a l'oignon comes to mind, or maybe some more traditional dishes like coq au vin or confit de canard. The majority of tourists that visit Paris travel thousands of miles to try these classic French mouth-watering recipes. Many tourists -- and even some Parisians -- do not know the magic that hides inside small restaurants owned by Hispanic chefs that settled in one of the biggest capitals of cuisine. It is no secret that Paris is known for its wide variety of dining options. Nevertheless, Latin American food is, more often than not, hidden under the shadows of everyone's favorite cuisines like Japanese, Italian, or classic American. 

As a Latina living in Paris, I took it as my duty to discover what restaurants in Paris serve Latin American cuisine and the individual dining experiences they offer. I was thrilled to find the countless options available in the city and how popular they have become over the years. It is safe to say that the following restaurants have succeeded in pleasing the Parisian palette which, frankly, can be challenging when it comes to food. 

Peruvian Fish Tiradito | Image Credit: Instagram via @inka_restaurant

In no particular order, I decided to start my restaurant journey in the quartier of Le Marais, where I was sure I would find worthwhile dishes. 

Just off the metro stop of Arts et Métiers stands a boutique hotel named 1K Paris, home to its restaurant INKA. This restaurant serves Peruvian gastronomy, and is surrounded by "the colorful folklore of the Inca culture." Japanese cooking heavily influences Peruvian cooking. "Nikkei cuisine was born due to the fusion of Japanese recipes and traditions with Peruvian ingredients." INKA highlights Nikkei cuisine by combining classic Japanese ingredients such as ginger, soy, and wasabi to their dishes. You will most definitely find all of the Peruvian classics in their menu, from ceviches to tiraditos (dish of raw fish, similar to carpaccio served in a spicy sauce), to vegetarian dishes. This sanctuary will transport you into the colorful Peruvian culture. The restaurant also has a pisco bar; pisco is "a white brandy made in Peru from muscat grapes," and no dinner is complete without it. INKA's pisco bar offers a wide variety of cocktails and flavors to make your Peruvian experience as unique and authentic as possible.

Classic Peruvian Ceviche | Image Credit: Instagram via @inka_restaurant

As I continued my walk around Le Marais, it was not long before I stumbled upon another Latin American classic: Argentinian empanadas. This Argentinian treasure, called Clasico Argentino, has seven locations around Paris. Before I walked inside, I could already smell the homemade empanada dough and the minced beef. Argentinian empanadas are usually filled with ground or minced meat, ham, cheese, chicken, or swiss chard; AKA beetroot. Of course, their menu includes the Argentinian classics, including the chori empanada, filled with homemade pork sausage, and the carne picante empanada served with spicy beef, bell peppers, cumin, and onion.

What makes Clasico Argentino unique is their food truck, or carrito, as you say in Spanish. The food truck moves around Paris, offering Parisians empanadas almost anywhere! Although it is usually parked in La Defense, customers have the chance to reserve it for private events. It has become so popular that Google, la Fondation Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, and Canal + have used their catering services in the past. 

Argentinian Empanada Platter | Image Credit: Instagram via @clasicoargentino

Moving past the Argentinian comfort food, I came about a place that hit very close to home, a classic Colombian restaurant named Mi Ranchito Paisa. The small restaurant lies in the heart of the 9th arrondissement, and it will take you on a journey through the most authentic Colombian flavors. 

The smell of fried plantain, potatoes, and fried fish took me right back to my grandmother's house. As I looked through the menu, I immediately ordered a Cartagena cocktail, a drink made with Colombian liquor Aguardiente, and passion fruit juice; I also ordered a picadita platter. The platter comes with chicharron, fried empanadas, patacones, and spicy aji sauce. For my main entrée, I had to order ajiaco, which has been my favorite dish since I can remember. Ajiaco is one of the most traditional Colombian dishes. It is a soup made out of three different kinds of potatoes, chicken, corn, and a side of avocado and capers. 

Bandeja Paisa | Image Credit: Instagram via @miranchitopaisaparis

The menu also includes other traditional dishes and even some family recipes from different Colombia regions, including bandeja paisa, sobrebarriga, and pescado con coco (coconut flake covered fish).  The owner and founder, Fenix Alvares, opened the establishment back in 2003. All of the decorations, from chair coverings to tablecloths, and murals, come directly from Colombia. 

I think what makes this restaurant so special is the ingredients they use. For any Latino living abroad -- and for Europeans -- exotic fruits and spices are hard to come by outside Latin America. Mi Ranchito Paisa offers a wide selection of natural juices, unlike any juices offered in regular restaurants. One sip will bring nostalgic feelings to any Latinx visiting the restaurant and provide a new tasting experience for those who have not been exposed to exotic fruits. Maracuya (passion fruit), guanabana (soursop), coconut lemonade, lulo, and mora (Andean raspberry), are some of the classics that you must try if you ever have the chance of stopping by. 

Picadita Platter | Image Credit: Instagram via @miranchitopaisaparis

Next to Colombia lies a Latin American country famous for its fantastic cuisine and its flavors. Venezuelan arepas are always on the top of Latin American food because of their versatility and how easy they are to eat. You do not need any cutlery and can eat them on the go. Thus, Venezuelan natives Daniela Baland and Luis Alfredo Machado opened a restaurant dedicated to Venezuelan arepas, called Aji Dulce

Aji dulce is a type of pepper, which is the base for most of the Venezuelan cuisine. It is an unusual vegetable because although it smells spicy, it is sweet, which inspired the restaurant's name. 

But what exactly is an arepa? Defined by the chefs, an arepa is a "Venezuelan homemade white cornbread cooked in the oven and stuffed with the traditional recipe of your choice." In their menu, they specialize in the most famous stuffings. The most popular include the reina pepiada, where the arepa is filled with roast chicken with avocado, the pabellon, pulled beef in vegetable sauce with black beans and fried sweet plantain, and the pernil arepa, slow-cooked pulled pork belly, with avocado and fresh tomato. 

Domino Arepa: Stuffed with black beans, Venezuelan fresh cheese, and fried sweet plantain | Image Credit: Instagram via @ajidulceparis

Although it is no secret that arepas are Aji Dulce's specialty, they also prepare other traditional Venezuelan dishes. One of these is Venezuelan tequeños, which are homemade cheese fingers. They also have caraotas; black beans served with cheese on top and tostones, lightly salted green plantain chips also served with cheese. 

Aji Dulce even has its online store, where customers can buy frozen tequeños to take home, as well as their secret sauces. These include their garlic, spicy, and guasacaca sauce, made out of avocado and fresh herbs. 

Tequeños | Image Credit: Instagram via @ajidulceparis

If you are looking for the traditional Venezuelan experience, Aji Dulce also has a selection of cocktails made out of a Venezuelan rum called Santa Teresa, which was founded in 1796. Their cocktail PapeRon, mixes the rum with sugar cane and lime, and their RonChita cocktail mixes it with fresh mint and passion fruit. 


1. INKA : 13, rue Boulevard du Temple, 75003

2. Clasico Argentino: 56, rue de Saintonge, 75003 |6, passage des Panoramas, 75002 |22, rue Henry Monnier, 75009 |25, rue Pierre Demours, 75017 |46, rue Madame, 75006 |8, rue du Pas de la Mule, 75003 |27, rue de Cotte, 75012

3. Mi Ranchito Paisa: 35, rue de Montholon, 75009

4. Aji Dulce: 19, rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 75009