New Kid on the Block
Gary and I were trying to find the Japanese restaurant we decided to review, and stopped to admire the new paint job at 10708-98 Street. A waiter stepped outside and tempted us into Latinos Restaurant, flashing a colourful menu and saying, “Just been open for three days.” We couldn’t resist.
Latinos is co-owned by a Salvadoran and a Mexican – the chef is Mexican – and they are rightly proud of their new restaurant. Painted in the bright colours of Latin America and decorated with terra cotta plates and masks, the restaurant – soon to have a liquor license, weekend music, and karaoke – boasts menu choices of five appetizers, two salads, and 11 main dishes, five of which are gluten free.
Having never tasted cactus, we started with the cactus salad. Served on crisp lettuce and a mix of mozzarella and feta, the cactus was cut into long strips the colour of canned green beans and the texture of marinated peppers, with a subtle and refreshing pickled flavour and topped with avocado. This ample salad could easily have been lunch, but we had already ordered enchiladas rojas and tamales as main courses.
They serve both Salvadoran and Mexican-style tamales. The waiter explained that the former are wrapped in plaintain leaves and the latter in cornhusks. My plate arrived with two Salvadoran tamales, stuffed with green olives, black olives, big chunks of chicken, and red and green peppers. The modern square white plate was adorned with little dishes of sour cream and red sauce, a big heap of peppery golden-coloured rice, and a small serving of beans.
Gary’s two enchiladas were corn tortillas stuffed with pork and vegetables, topped with sauce and chopped lettuce, also accompanied by rice and beans. He chose “medium” sauce after tasting it with the salad. He usually chooses the hottest he can find, but at Latinos the medium was hot enough and made us wonder what diablo would do to the tongue.
For drinks, Gary tried the horchata and said, “It’s like the best rice pudding my mom ever made.” It’s made of ground rice, cinnamon, and milk, served ice cold. My Jarritos was grapefruit-flavoured Mexican soda. When we asked what a “Jamaica” was, our waiter gave us one: a fruity drink, maybe hibiscus, the colour of cranberry cocktail.
We had to skip the frozen yogurts with various toppings on the dessert menu. Instead, we had our leftovers boxed for that evening’s supper, making this a very economical lunch.
We are always looking for places to take our somewhat picky grandchildren, so were pleased to see a Mexican hot dog (perro caliente), hamburguesa grande, and nachos plates on the menu.
We’ll be back in a week or two when the liquor license has arrived and live musicians take the stage. The hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. They’re also set up to show live soccer and such on a large TV screen, which was mercifully muted during lunchtime. Latinos seats 140 people and even has a dance floor. It would be a great place to have a party.
Sara lives in McCauley with her family.