Best Latin food restaurants in Palm Beach County, critic's favorites – Palm Beach Post

I’ve been known to sofrito and sazón just about anything that lands in my sauté pan. What doesn’t taste better with an aromatic flavor base and a little dash of seasoning love?
When I’m craving the flavors of home in the dining world, I seek out restaurants that transport me to the larger sense of home, beyond my stove — my childhood memories, my mother’s recipes, my travels through Mexico, Central and South America and Spain. 
I’ve found delicious examples of these flavors on the local dining map. Here are six of my favorite local Latino restaurants and some of the dishes I love best. 
What I like best about the place: Its Caribbean pride. This busy, Dominican-owned restaurant in West Palm Beach is an anthem to Puerto Rican-inspired mofongo, the earthy mash of fried green plantains, crispy pork rinds, garlic and seasonings. The restaurant’s cultural pride is evident not only on its menu but also in its decor, bachata sounds and traditional touches like the countryside-style café colao that’s brewed through a cloth mesh strainer.
What I order: When at La Casa del Mofongo, order the mofongo. Then again, one can’t avoid the namesake dish here. There are no fewer than two dozen mofongo dishes on the menu at this South Dixie Highway eatery.
My favorites are the mofongo served with fried pork chunks or with deep-fried, on-the-bone chicken chunks (chicharrón de pollo). There’s no breading on the chicken but it’s crispy outside, tender and juicy inside. Portions are huge, so you’ll have enough for later. 
La Casa del Mofongo: 6108 S. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, 561-557-5367 
Critic’s pick: Best barbecue restaurants right now in Palm Beach County
Food Editor: We say goodbye to a beloved pizza restaurant.  
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(While we’re on Dixie Highway, let’s talk about the O.G.)
What I like best about the place: Havana is a favorite for long-standing reasons: the food is legit Cuban. It doesn’t feel the need to fix what’s not broken. Classics are classics. And the fact that it’s family-owned keeps that respect for classics intact.
What I order: The Cuban sandwich. It’s toasty, served on proper Cuban bread and generously stuffed but still manageable. Sometimes I request it without pork. Yes, it becomes a ham-and-cheese sandwich, but a pretty spectacular one.
Havana: 6801 S. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, 561-547-9799
What I like best about the place: As its name and menu suggest, this Lake Park spot celebrates the influence of the Japanese immigrants in Peru’s cuisine. At Ceviche Arigato you’ll find sushi rolls alongside ceviche, tataki dishes next to anticuchos, Japanese-inspired stirfry alongside ají de gallina (shredded chicken in creamy yellow pepper sauce).   
What I order: The ceviche. There are nearly a dozen varieties of ceviche and they are served in generous portions. I like the simple fish ceviche or those kicked up with ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow pepper) or spicy rocoto pepper. I also love the lomo saltado, a stirfry of steak, onions and tomatoes topped with fries and served with white rice, as is traditional. 
Ceviche Arigato: 1447 10th St., Lake Park, 561-863-8877
What I like best about the place: The Mexican breakfast, the tacos, the Jalisco decor. Guadalajara, the city in Jalisco state and the restaurant owners’ native city, is represented proudly at this Lake Park eatery that’s a taco truck spin-off.
What I order: The tacos de birria. It’s only expected that Guadalajara Restaurant would serve one of Jalisco’s classic taco dishes. They’re served on doubled-up corn tortillas, stuffed with stewed barbacoa beef and presented with garnishes. If you order three of them, you get a traditional dipping consommé.
Guadalajara Restaurant: 905 U.S. Hwy 1, Lake Park, 561-814-5740
What I like about the place: The tapas love at this family-friendly Pineapple Grove restaurant speaks to owner Cristobal Parra’s (“Papa” himself) roots in Alicante, Spain. 
What I order: A tableful of tapas and Papa’s Tapas’ homemade sangria. I love the appetizer-size empanadas, the variety of croquetas, the pan con tomate, a nice wedge of Spanish tortilla (omelet) and maybe some patatas bravas. If I have time to spare, I love the paella Valenciana, which takes about 45 minutes to prepare. 
Papa’s Tapas: 259 NE 2nd Ave., Delray Beach, 561-266-0599
What I like about the place: It reminds me of Miami’s ubiquitous cafeterías and the bakery/cafés that dispense café Cubano through busy takeout windows. Patriarch Armando Cabrera opened this Palm Springs Cuban bakery with his sons nearly 34 years ago. The cash-only café is still a family-run spot. 
What I order: The café Cubano. This demitasse of coffee is served with a side of family history in the county’s most-Latino municipality. It goes well with my other Tropical Bakery favorite: the Cuban sandwich. What makes it special? The bread is baked in-house every morning.
Tropical Bakery: 4068-1 Forest Hill Blvd., Palm Springs, 561-439-2100

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