Spot a bug in your food while dining out and you'll likely send the dish back and find a new place to eat. But insects are actually an incredible source of protein with a long history in Latin cuisine. Lately, they’re showing up on restaurant menus in everything from appetizers to desserts.
David George Gordon, aka The Bug Chef, has a cookbook on eating bugs; Richard Sandoval’s restaurants feature a guacamole with grasshoppers; and there’s a restaurant in New Orleans dedicated entirely to dishes that include bugs. From a cocktail with a salt worm rim to tacos with crickets to a chocolate fondue dessert, here are 5 recipes worth bugging out for.
Ease into eating bugs with a cocktail. Brian Means, the bar manager of San Francisco’s Dirty Habit, recommends the Chupacabra cocktail for tequila drinkers (or anyone who enjoys a good margarita or a Paloma). Tequila, mezcal, lime juice, grapefruit cordial, and Aperol give this cocktail hints of black pepper, smoked agave, bitter orange, and grapefruit. A salt rim made with sal de gusano gives it a spicy kick.
Famed chef Richard Sandoval has been serving bug dishes to diners for years. His Guacamole Sur, on the menu at Maya in New York City for a limited time, makes insects the star ingredient. Take a bite and enjoy the flavors of southern Mexico: tomatillo, cotija cheese, onion, chile cascabel, cilantro, lime, sea salt, and grasshoppers. (And this recipe calls for whole grasshoppers, so you’ll taste them in all their crunchy glory.)
The Bug Appétit Buffet inside the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans is all about eating bugs. The buffet menu changes to allow diners to try different buggy treats, but one of their staples is mealworm salsa. Start with your favorite recipe for homemade salsa or buy some from the store and add in mealworms. This recipe calls for 150 mealworms for every 8 ounces of salsa. (We suggest starting with a more salsa-heavy ratio if you're a beginner.)
The 750-square-foot, Tacos Perla in San Diego specializes in street tacos. For an extra $0.75, you can add crickets to any of the tacos on the menu. Overseen by chef Jaison Burke, Tacos Perla recommends the adobado pork tacos with pineapple, onion, cilantro, and crickets. For a delicious and crunchy taco you can enjoy on the go, sprinkle in about 10 crickets!
Chef David George Gordon knows a lot about eating bugs, after all he’s a bug chef! He was inspired to create this Chapulines con Chocolate Fondue while visiting Switzerland a few years back. The idea came to him while indulging in Swiss chocolate and thinking about the popularity of salted caramels: why couldn’t combining small baked and seasoned grasshoppers from Mexico with chocolate fondue from the Alps yield the same delicious result? Mix up a pot of fondue for your next dinner party, pour some mezcal, and enjoy.