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.
Thu Jul 10 2008
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.