Current industry trends  show a rapidly increasing popularity of multi-regional Latin American influenced menus, especially among coveted Hispanic Millennials (ages 19 – 30+), who jump at the chance to sample foods from varied cultures and experience new flavors, textures and aromas.


Today’s Latin American flavors are as diverse as their individual cultures. Exciting regional cuisines are currently gaining media attention, each with their own distinctive ingredients, flavors and traditional recipes. The more popular include: Southwestern Mexican (Oaxacan), South American (especially Peruvian and Brazilian) and Pan-Latin (menus with a sampling of several cuisines).

Each cuisine offers flexibility and easy ways to personalize your menu while building business with guests in search of new dining experiences. Plus, it allows you to share your heritage in a truly memorable way.


Don’t put off experimenting!  Trends change and taking full advantage of them means getting in on them on the way up, not on the way down. The sooner you start, the more rewarding it is likely to be for your business.

It’s easy to add innovative Latin flavors into your existing menu. Simply integrate new ingredients and tastes into your traditional dishes—a technique often used by high-profile chefs. It’s a great way to transition guests into more adventurous and profitable dishes.

Up your game with interesting proteins and sauces to make your menu unique. For example, simple street tacos, or arepas, can become a premium menu item with the addition of more upscale meats such as bison or duck. Scallops take on a new flavor when smoky panca peppers are added. Coconut-marinated ceviche served with plantain chips offers a new flavor experience.

Create an upscale version of popular “street foods.” Something as simple as raspados can become a premium dessert by incorporating tropical ingredients such as guava, papaya, passion fruit, horned melon with shaved ice,  sweetened condensed milk and young coconut water. Plate with herbs for maximum visual appeal.

Add new flavors throughout your menu, from cocktails to appetizers, entrees and side dishes to desserts.

Create tasting events such as a “Celebration of Regional Flavors” to give guests the opportunity to sample different Latin cuisines. This gives your guests a reason to return to your restaurant while enjoying unique recipes and preparations.

A sample week might include a Chilean menu and feature selections such as the national beverage, Maracuya Pisco Sour (a mix of passion fruit, key lime, egg white and Angostura bitters), traditional appetizers like Empanada de Pino (beef, sofrito, raisins, and hard boiled egg in a green Pebre herb and onion sauce), entrees like Asado de Tira (braised short ribs, Chilean Merquen spice, and Pebre tomato-cumin sauce), and a wonderful dessert, Crepa de Manjar (made from bitter orange butter, crema, and ice cream).   


Expanding flavors and dishes can create additional excitement from both regular guests and new customers, creating a “word-of-mouth” buzz or even media attention. It’s also a chance to reinforce or establish your restaurant’s distinct personality and credibility, which can translate into added profitably in the long run. 


1The National Restaurant Association’s Top 20 Trends of 2014 survey of professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation, posted on The National Restaurant Association’s website,