If you want to be transported to the streets of Latin America right here in little old Auckland, head to Elliott Stables. Literally translating to 'Latin kisses', Besos Latinos sits snugly in the corner of the upmarket food court. And once you make it to this corner, the space is vast and spacious with plenty of options for seating for groups and couples.
We have to say that the fun and lively atmosphere of this restaurant makes it a fantastic venue for a celebration or a fun night out with friends. Our waiter was really social and very friendly, always ready to crack a joke and his recommendations for the wine and food were superb. He felt like an old friend at the end of the night.
Award-winning chef Luis Cabrera and his partner Cecilia Mijangos are at the helm of this busy, bustling restaurant and the bright, attractive mural painting on the wall is an example of artist Cecilia's work.
This is traditional Latin American food and is nothing like the Tex Mex varieties that are very prevalent. All of the staff are from Latin America and traditional dishes come from Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. If you're feeling brave, you can even sample a cricket quesadilla which contains oven roasted crickets with garlic, chilli and melted cheese.
Veering on the safer side we started with the fish tacos. Two generously stuffed fish tacos contained fresh fish of the day coated in chipotle mayonnaise, topped with corn and red pepper chutney. The fish was expertly cooked and delicate and the topping did not overpower the flavour of the dish.
We couldn't resist ordering one of the platos principales even though you could have a great night here sharing a number of small plates and sides. The churrasco steak with green chimichurri was a mammoth portion consisting of two hundred and fifty grams of chargrilled skirt steak with green chimichurri, fried potatoes, sliced pork sausages and a green salad. This one is only for the very hungry.
The chicken quesadillas were our favourite dish. Tender chicken encased in soft flour tortillas and filled with melted, gooey cheese. Perfect comfort food.
The atmosphere in Besos Latinos is electric and if you fancy transporting yourself to the sultry streets of Latin America, we couldn't recommend it more.
Image: Besos Latinos