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The best Latin restaurants on Long Island

Here are Newsday’s top 10 Latin restaurants for 2019.

Note: Most dishes mentioned are samples of the restaurants’ menus and may not be available at all times. Seasonal changes and dish substitutions are common.

Note: Most dishes mentioned are samples of the restaurants’ menus and may not be available at all times. Seasonal changes and dish substitutions are common.

Besito

Besito (402 New York Ave., Huntington): These sophisticated
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Besito (402 New York Ave., Huntington): These sophisticated Mexican siblings boost that country's cuisine to refined but still festive levels, absent sombreros, mariachi bands and bean burritos. At each, guacamole is prepared tableside and spiked with as much heat as you want. Melting chile rellenos are a consistently solid starter, as are tacos delivered in an iron skillet. When you want to get serious, though, Besito obliges, cinching together regional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes with flair: Duck enchiladas, crab budin (lump crab and shrimp layered between tortillas with salsa, queso and pico de gallo), pan-seared mahi mahi crusted with blue-corn tortillas and slow-cooked ribs with agave and chipotle are among the larger plates, backed by a supporting cast of excellent margaritas and cocktails (try the tangerine highball). Outdoor seating in Huntington and Roslyn (1516 Old Northern Blvd.) lend an al fresco note to dinner. (Other location at 399 Montauk Hwy., West Islip.) More info: besitomexican.com 

Chile relleno, stuffed with roasted corn, baby spinach,
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Chile relleno, stuffed with roasted corn, baby spinach, mushrooms, queso fresco, queso Chihuahua and served in a salsa ranchera at Besito in West Islip.

Cafe Buenos Aires

Cafe Buenos Aires (23 Wall St., Huntington): When
Photo Credit: Doug Young

Cafe Buenos Aires (23 Wall St., Huntington): When Hugo Garcia opened his singular Huntington restaurant in 2007, his goal was to introduce Long Island to the cuisine of his native Argentina, from seafood ceviche and plump, golden empanadas to parrillada mixta (mixed, grilled meats). In the ensuing decade, he's also made Café Buenos Aires one of the Island's most dependable spots for classic tapas (tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, shrimp in garlic sauce, serrano ham with manchego cheese) as well as Spanish and Latin American specialties such as paella and tacos. The spirited restaurant takes in a dining room, a bar and, when it's balmy, outside tables on Wall Street. As the night progresses, watch for impromptu tangos. More info: 631-603-3600, cafebuenosaires.net 

Mussels topped with red sangria fruit, a special
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Mussels topped with red sangria fruit, a special lobster salad with claw and tail meat, avocado, hearts of palm, corn, tomato and green scallion and Jamon Serrano with marinated olives and manchego cheese at Cafe Buenos Aires in Huntington.

Coral Tapas and Wine Bar

Coral Tapas and Wine Bar (215 Atlantic Ave.,
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Coral Tapas and Wine Bar (215 Atlantic Ave., East Moriches): Spain, once a bastion of time-honored foodways, has become a seat of culinary innovation. You can taste both at Coral while you take in spectacular views of Moriches Bay. The kitchen does right by the classics, from paella to tapas (including patatas bravas, garlic shrimp, croquetas of Iberico ham). But head chef Roberto Leon also ventures into molecular gastronomy, the modernist style pioneered by the great Spanish chef, Ferran Adriáa, which explains the special-effects opener of lush smoked oysters, unveiled from under a cloche, sending out little plumes and sporting both a hint of chorizo and a cloudlet of lemon "air." More info: 631-703-3479, coraltapas.com 

Seafood soup at Coral Tapas and Wine Bar
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Seafood soup at Coral Tapas and Wine Bar in East Moriches.

El Rodeo

El Rodeo (130 Montauk Hwy., East Moriches): This
Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz

El Rodeo (130 Montauk Hwy., East Moriches): This authentic Mexican restaurant is the third jewel in a triple crown owned by the Rojas family, who also own Taqueria Mexico and Taqueria Cielito Lindo, both in Riverhead. The décor is no-frills (though possibly more-frills than the others) but colorful, and the food is on point. Tacos, served on homemade tortillas, are exemplary, particularly the campechanos, filled with beef, pork and sausage. Tamales, so often too dense, are light and tender. Meaty mains are consistently fine, as is the pozole, a piquant soup thick with exploded hominy kernels and hunks of braised pork. More info: 631-909-2666, elrodeony.com 

Pozole soup with pork and corn at El
Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz

Pozole soup with pork and corn at El Rodeo in East Moriches.

I Am Nacho Mama

I Am Nacho Mama (7 W. Village Green,
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

I Am Nacho Mama (7 W. Village Green, Hicksville): A Latin eatery? I Am Nacho Mama redefines that label with cuisine inspired by no fewer than a dozen countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Five members of the Juarez family oversee the place, chief among them paterfamilias Carlos, a Guatemalan native whose Nacho Mama's food truck took Nassau County by storm a few years back. He's the chef and visionary behind this buoyant bricks-and-mortar transplant, a whiz at everything from Portuguese picanha to Mexican street corn to Puerto Rican pernil. Juarez's wood-fired meats come to life in multiple mediums (nachos, tacos, burritos and bowls), but the most exciting moments come when cultures collide, from a Cuban sandwich brightened by Salvadoran curtido and burgers amped up with Argentinean chorizo. More info: 516-226-0228, iamnachomama.com 

Roasted corn from I Am Nacho Mama in
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Roasted corn from I Am Nacho Mama in Hicksville.

La Fondita

La Fondita (74 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett): Get in
Photo Credit: Doug Young

La Fondita (74 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett): Get in line for some of the brightest, most authentic Mexican flavors in the Hamptons. La Fondita is the most casual member of the East End's Honest Man Restaurant Group (Nick & Toni's, Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ) but the culinary standards are just as high, as is the celebrity quotient. The restaurant is little more than an enclosed stand with a few counter stools, but there are picnic tables on the lawn and Adirondack chairs around the pond out back. You'll likely devour soft-corn tacos filled with either shrimp, smoky carne asada, spicy chorizo sausage or fried fish. Great chicken tortilla soup and hearty tortas (Mexican sandwiches) are on offer, too, as are surprisingly good salads, Mexican drinks and desserts. More info: 631-267-8800, lafondita.net 

Shrimp tacos, one of the delicacies served at
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Shrimp tacos, one of the delicacies served at La Fondita in Amagansett.

Lucharitos Taqueria & Tequila Bar

Lucharitos Taqueria & Tequila Bar (119 Main St.,
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Lucharitos Taqueria & Tequila Bar (119 Main St., Greenport): Marc LaMaina's rollicking North Fork Mexican joint (and its condensed sibling, Little Lucheritos at 487 Main Rd., in Aquebogue) has settled into its status as a Greenport landmark. Whether you're bringing the kids for lunch or settling in with a round of margaritas, this is crowd-pleasing fare. The fearsome poses of Mexican wrestlers known as luchadores adorn the walls; on the plates you'll find more than a dozen tacos (including an ever-changing seasonal fish taco, and a vegan version filled with grilled veggies), as well as burritos, empanadas or any one of seven versions of nachos, including one topped with barbecued local duck. More info: 631-477-6666, lucharitos.com 

Baby portabella, shiitake,chanterelle and button mushroom tacos at
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Baby portabella, shiitake,chanterelle and button mushroom tacos at Lucharitos Taqueria & Tequila Bar in Greenport.

Mi Viejito Pueblito

Mi Viejito Pueblito (1687 New York Ave., Huntington
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Mi Viejito Pueblito (1687 New York Ave., Huntington Station): A little hole-in-the-wall it may be, but you won't find more authentic Mexican on the island. The tacos, burritos and cecina plate are all terrific, part of a menu that rarely disappoints. Owned by Eulogio and Emelia Valerio, originally from the Mexican state of Guerrero, the restaurant is a dream 19 years in the making. That's how long the Valerio family saved up money -- working construction jobs, as Uber drivers, etc.--to open an eatery featuring Eulogio's recipes. Any way you look at it, the results were well worth the wait. If soup is on the menu, order it. Ditto the nachos simple, which are delicious and anything but. More info: 631-470-0396

Nopal cactus, rice and beans accompany a fine
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Nopal cactus, rice and beans accompany a fine cecina plate at Mi Viejito Pueblito in Huntington Station.

Pier 95

Pier 95 (95 Hudson Ave., Freeport): This waterside
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Pier 95 (95 Hudson Ave., Freeport): This waterside oasis of Portuguese-inspired cuisine, especially seafood, is perched on the Hudson Canal with a view of gliding gulls and moored boats. Though this part of town can be seasonal, Pier 95 serves up warm, white-tablecloth-level service year-round. The kitchen offers a rich spin on New England clam chowder and a flavorful caldo verde; savory Portuguese-style cod cakes, with herbaceous tomato sauce, and crabcakes with mustard sauce. The restaurant sails with its main courses, including a frequent special of monkfish medallions with a creamy, toasted almond sauce and exceptional bacalhau, or salt cod, its saline bite delicately restrained. Swordfish with lemon-ginger sauce cues the competition, as do the mariscada of shellfish, paellas, and lobster, either steamed or broiled. The classic Portuguese combination of sautéed pork and clams is a delight. More info: 516-379-9898, pier95.com 

The seared tuna with citrus-soy sauce at Pier
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

The seared tuna with citrus-soy sauce at Pier 95 in Freeport.

Taco 'Bout It

Taco 'Bout It (40B E. Main St., Riverhead):
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Taco 'Bout It (40B E. Main St., Riverhead): This boldly painted eatery can be tricky to find -- the entrance is down an alley -- but the hunt will be rewarded with on-point Mexican food from chef Alejandro "Chicki" Ramirez, a native of Oaxaca. Onion-and-cilantro bedecked tacos are made with fresh tortillas, guacamole is lush, and staples such as husk-wrapped tamales, quesadillas, and burritos are augmented by gems such as a fried grouper pombazo (or sandwich), Mexican corn chowder and fresh, crisp churros. More info: 631-574-8787, tacoboutitny.com 

Steak and shrimp fajita as served at Taco
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Steak and shrimp fajita as served at Taco 'Bout It in Riverhead.

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