A Flare for the South: Latin American Cuisine in the D
By: Michael Fossbakk
February 11, 2019
Ask the average person about Latin American cuisine and they might nod along to the mention of tapas and empanadas. But, you might lose them with terms like “camarones provenzal”. The range of Latin American flavors are as wide and varied as the countries they are from. The flavors of Cuba differ from the ones found in Peru or Chile, which differ from the ones in Brazil or Ecuador. It is truly a world of flavors and thankfully, many of those flavors can be found right here in Metro Detroit.
Owner Betty Shuell saw a need for more Peruvian cuisine in Metro Detroit and fell in love with the community in Ferndale, prompting her to return to her roots in restaurant management. Since opening in Ferndale last year, Culantro has been serving Peruvian dishes, such as “aji de gallina” (shredded chicken, walnut cream sauce, Amarillo peppers), in a casual environment.
Last month, the popular Hazel Park hangout Joebar transformed itself into Latido. Now serving Latin American cuisine from chefs Michael Barrera and Moses Fishman, you’ll find such dishes as empanadas (three styles), seafood rice (squid, octopus, shrimp, black rice, whipped garlic) and tuna ceviche (bigeye tuna, citrus, cilantro, red onion, Fresno chili, plantain chips). Even the cocktails are common to Latin America or come from Latin American inspirations.
Set in a fine dining atmosphere, Bolero in Midtown, Detroit is known for a wide range of Latin American cuisine. Paella, ceviche, coconut flan, fried plantains with pork tostones, camarones provenzal (grilled shrimp and potatoes in a lemon butter cream sauce) and more line the menu here. On the bar side of things, Bolero is known for their red sangria and fresh mojitos.
From the people behind Bolero is a favorite Cuban cuisine destination in Detroit. Vicente’s serves paella, tapas, sandwiches and more. They are well-known for their paella, but their empanadas and Cuban tamales are not to be skipped. The menu is extensive, so returns trips are necessary to get a solid taste for the breadth of flavors available at Vicente’s.
When catching up with Chef Maxcel Hardy a little more than a year ago, I couldn’t wait to explore the next of his restaurant ventures, Coop. Located inside the newly-opened Detroit Shipping Company, Coop is described as “Caribbean fusion.” Expect jerk chicken, Caribbean steak, oxtail empanadas and more.