“It’s a really good marriage between ingredient-based items and traditionally-made fare.”
That’s chef Michael Barrera talking about his newest culinary venture: Latido at Joebar, a year-long residency at Hazel Park’s neighborhood hangout that will focus on Latin-American cuisine. He describes their methodology in designing the menu as wanting dishes that are authentic to Central and South America through-and-through while also creating their own dishes based on ingredients that are common in those same regions.
As an example, Barrera points to Latido’s quinoa tamale, for which they are using aji amarillo sauce, queso fresco and quinoa, an ingredient “indicative of Peru.”
“Those are the ingredients that you may find there,” Barrera said, “it may not be an exact style dish that you would get there.”
Looking at the menu, you might not know that the tamales were inspired by flavors of Peru but, for Barrera, a major tenet of Latido will be the culinary knowledge of the staff. Latido at Joebar’s staff will be trained to not only know the ingredients and preparation of the dishes on the menu but to know why those ingredients were used and where in the world the dish originated or draws its inspiration from.
“I think communication with our guests is a huge thing for us,” Barrera said. “We’re gonna have ample opportunity to really talk to people and provide genuine hospitality to these people. That means listening to what they like and listening to what they’re not crazy about.”
Barrera, who grew up in a Mexican/German household and has been married to an Argentinian woman for 17 years, has traveled extensively to Central and South America, inspiring him to learn the cuisine of these regions and bring them to Metro Detroit.
“I fell in love with the food and the culture of that area, of those parts of the world,” Barrera said of his decision to make Latido at Joebar a reality.
Prior to this endeavor, Barrera served as culinary director of Heirloom Hospitality (Townhouse, Prime + Proper) but left that position in April last year to pursue other interests. Those interests led him to off-and-on conversations with longtime colleague Joe Vaughn of Joebar and its not-so-secret pop-up dinner venue Frame.
“It was about six months ago when we really sat down and talked about the possibility of doing something together, whether it was either in the four walls of Joebar or if it was elsewhere,” Barrera said.
A series of conversations later between Barrera, his partner in culinary crime Moses Fishman (Axle Brewing Company), and Joebar owners Joe and Cari Vaughn, the year-long residency known as Latido at Joebar was born.
As Latido at Joebar is a complete takeover of the Hazel Park bar, David Laginess (Axle Brewing Company, Public House) has been hired to lead Latido’s beverage and cocktail program. Barrera mentions the Pisco Sour, which is a Peruvian and Chilean drink, and the Caipirinha, which is Brazilian, as two drinks diners can expect on the menu. That’s in addition to a mezcal Old Fashioned, which will be one of two drinks available on draft.
Over the course of this year-long residency, Barrera hopes to build a following among his diners, teaching them about the food of Central and South America, and ultimately transferring his love for the cuisine of these countries to Latido’s patrons.
Beyond that, whether Latido remains at Joebar or is moved to its own brick and mortar location, Barrera wants to stay in Hazel Park.
“We’ve been welcomed with open arms and we see a lot of potential in this area for growth and we’re seeing it now and we believe, within the next 2-4 years it’s only going to get better and only grow,” Barrera said. “We’d love to be in the beginning stages of that.”
Latido at Joebar will be opening Tuesday, Jan. 22. Find out more at joebar.com.