SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER FLAVOR

SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER FLAVOR

As the demand for spicy tastes heats up, American restaurants are looking to the vast territory South of the border for menu inspirations. At Chez Henri in Cambridge, Mass., chef/owner PaulO’Connell’s Latin Dinner Series this past summer featured the cuisines of Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, and coastal Venezuela. New Latin prix fixe menus ($36) were introduced every two weeks during July and August.

At Long Beach, Calif.-based ElTorito Restaurants, executive chef Pepe Lopez has been bringing guests Mexican regional culinary specialties from areas such as Sonora, Veracruz, Yucatan, and Mexico City. The latest locale in the "Real Flavors of Mexico" program is Guadalajara, which features items such as Enchiladas Guadalajara and Tacos de Barbacoa.

Brunch takes on some spice at Cafe Atlantico in Washington, D.C., with Chef Christy Velie’s new a la carte menu combining Latin American and Caribbean items. The Nuevo Latino Sunday Brunch includes items like Brazilian French toast that’s filled with mild white cheese, grilled, and served with cinnamon syrup. And in the Philadelphia area, Derek Davis, executive chef and co-owner of Arroyo Grille, has revamped the restaurant’s Southwestern menu to embrace more Mexican items, such as red snapper Veracruz and ahi tuna ceviche. This summer, Otro Mas in Chicago offered a traditional Brazilian-style churrasco dinner event ($50) as part of its Latin Entertaining Series that introduced guests to the culture of Latin America. See our recipe pages for addditional menu ideas with a Latin flavor.