Outside the lines

Line cooks are the unsung, multinational heroes of the kitchen. Beyond on-the-job expertise, they also have the scoop on their native cuisines. Four guys who keep the Red Cat running reveal their favorite dishes.

(from left) Antonio Meneses,  Jose Uruchima, Manuel DeRegino, Felipe Carrillo

(from left) Antonio Meneses, Jose Uruchima, Manuel DeRegino, Felipe Carrillo Photograph: Meghan Petersen

"My favorite is Sabor Latino (95-35 40th Rd at Warren St, Corona, Queens; 718-457-3966)," says Jose Uruchima, describing meat platters—like the carne apanada (breaded and fried beef, $10.99, pictured)—that bring him back to his Ecuadoran youth. At Rincon Latino (48-18 Skillman Ave at 48th St, Sunnyside, Queens; 718-424-8169), he says, two people can share an authentic Ecuadoran shrimp ceviche ($16) and pechuga a la parilla (grilled chicken breast, $10).

Antonio Meneses stands by the chicken and cheese enchiladas ($6, pictured) at Antojitos Mexicanos (107 Graham Ave between Boerum and McKibbin Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-9076). "The flavor is similar to what you find in Puebla, Mexico, where I'm from," he says. When he's in the mood for chilaquiles ($6.50)—tortilla chips smothered in green chili sauce—he goes to Grand Morelos (727 Grand St between Graham Ave and Humboldt St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-9441).

Manuel DeRegino, from Mexico, longingly describes the spit-roasted pork al pastor platter ($9.95, pictured) at La Nortea (102-14 Roosevelt Ave between 102nd and 103rd Sts, Corona, Queens; 718-672-4485). "The meat is tender—and it comes with pineapple and tortillas," he says. If you're in Manhattan, DeRegino recommends Selena (252 W 38th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 212-921-1147), which sells tasty, filling chicken huaraches (jumbo tacos) for $9.

When asked for his top Peruvian picks, Lima-born Felipe Carrillo praises the whole roasted chicken ($8.95, pictured) at Pollo Latino (94-59 Corona Ave between Junction Blvd and 94th St, Elmhurst, Queens; 718-271-0900) for being expertly seasoned, but he says that "the best Peruvian food is in New Jersey." He often visits Anticucheria El Chevere (603 Main Ave at Passaic Ave, Passaic, NJ; 973-458-8308) for a platter of anticuchos—grilled skewered beef hearts—which costs a mere $6.