Auckland’s food scene seems to have a love hate relationship with Mexican food, in some sense you see it everywhere with joints like Mexico and Mexicali opening up literally around every street corner and nowhere as none of these places offer actual authentic Mexican food. Besos Latinos seems to go against this tex-mex status quo, offering only what is authentic to Latin American culture and making a valiant effort to inform the public that nachos and burritos are not a Mexican dish. Besos Latinos’ owner and head chef Luis Cabrera has cooked for the likes of Obama and Hillary Clinton, so he is a total expert when it comes to this style of food.
Besos Latinos is situated right at the end of the busy Elliot stables food court and unlike the other restaurants, it has its own seating area inside the main entrance which is grand. There is something about high ceilings and comfortable dining space that most spots in Auckland really don’t understand as the majority of my meals have been in cramped rooms where I struggle to even pour water without worrying that it might spill. Besos Latinos really changes things up with its sparsely lit dining area with tables set up comfortably around an indoor fountain, while the walls are covered in Latin American culture and bright artwork which really makes you’ve left Auckland and ended up in Mexico City. The bar is adjacent to the seating area making sure that your margaritas are literally steps away.
Speaking about margaritas, the first thing that we ordered, or specifically, the owner recommended to us when he greeted us at the entrance, were the classic margaritas which were very strong and worked well to balance out the spiciness of the food.
We started with jalapeño poppers which were extremely different to anything I’ve ever tried, the chef informed us that they are made in house and were basically deep fried peppers with cheese inside, extremely flavourful and had such a pleasant kick that made them even better. We also ordered the guacamole served with tortilla chips, which complemented the spicy peppers so well by drowning out the spices and cleansing the pallet.
The next dishes that we tried were the pork and chicken tacos. We found the pork tacos to be one of the best dishes of the night, the tender, slow-cooked pork belly was combined with pineapple chunks, a combination that I’ve never had ever together, amazing fusion of flavour!
The chicken taco was yummy as well, had a real kick to it as there was a pepper in the middle, different to my experience of hard-shell tortilla tacos and a lot more enjoyable knowing that this was proper Latino style food. Luis also informed us that one of the reasons that Besos Latinos is able offer such authentic food is that their chefs are trained specifically in this cuisine and really know how to present the Latin American culture and in the food.
The mains recommended by the chef were the beef anticuchos and the Arrachera con Chilaquiles. The beef anticuchos were wagyu beef pieces cooked with peppers and onions and were extremely tender and tasteful, they really gave off that spice and flavour that we tasted throughout our meal and were char grilled to perfection. The Arrachera con chilaquiles consisted of a skirt steak over tortilla chips simmered in cheese and beans which was completely out of this world. It was a completely new flavour and combination and the beans brought out the flavour of the tender meat so well!.
The Arrachera con chilaquiles consisted of a skirt steak over tortilla chips simmered in cheese and beans which was completely out of this world. It was a completely new flavour and combination and the beans brought out the flavour of the tender meat so well!.
Besos Latinos really opened my eyes up to the flavoursome world of Latin American cuisine and is now my favourite Mexican/Latin American restaurant in Auckland. Its one of those places that you really need to try to understand how good it is!
M16-41 ELLIOTT ST, CBD, New Zealand