The sign may say “Latin Deli” or “Comida Latina” or, simply, “Spanish and American food.” These phrases all signify the same thing: This establishment serves big portions of good food at low prices.
No Spanish? No problem. One of the beautiful things about ordering from a steam table is that all you have to do is point. And say, “Gracias.”
Vicky's Casa Del Sabor
Vicky's Casa Del Sabor (771 Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst): The specialty of the house is empanadas. Owner Vicky Ramos’ mother is from Colombia and, at first, her fried turnovers hewed to a traditional Colombian recipe: beef and potato or chicken and potato. But Ramos began fiddling and now the lineup includes Hawaiian empanadas stuffed with ham, pineapple and cheese; macarrones con queso stuffed with mac and cheese, choco-banana stuffed with Nutella and bananas, and dozens more. More info: 631-225-5040, vickyscasadelsabor.com
Latino specialties at Vicky's Casa del Sabor in Lindenhurst (clockwise from top left): pernil (roast pork shoulder); pollo asada tacos (grilled chicken tacos); a plate of chorizo, chicharrón and fried plantains; pupusas filled with shredded beef served with a bowl of curtido (pickled cabbage); and ropa vieja with yellow rice, beans and sweet plantains. Center, empanadas de chorizo-papas (stuffed with chorizo and potatoes).
La Cubanita (1827 Fifth Ave., Bay Shore): La Cubanita was opened as little more than a bodega in 1975 by Raul Gisbert Sr., a Cuban émigré. Gisbert, a gifted cook, started adding more and more hot food. Now under the direction of his son, Raul Gisbert Jr., La Cubanita excels with specialties such as congri (white rice mixed with black beans), palomilla (pan-fried steak with onions) and carimanolas (meat-filled yuca fritters). Don’t miss the chicken sandwich, made with chopped fried chicken — skin and all — that’s piled on a roll with mayonnaise and hot sauce, and pressed. More info: 631-273-9218
The pressed chicken sandwich at La Cubanita Deli in Bay Shore is made with chopped fried chicken -- skin and all -- mayonnaise and hot sauce.
Port Washington Deli
Port Washington Deli (61 Main St., Port Washington): Directly across the street from the Port Washington LIRR station is this bastion of affordable dining, with a vast steam table offering an array of Latin American roasted and stewed meats, including succulent ribs and chicken. Variations on rice (white, yellow, pea-punctuated) and beans (whole, refried) abound, plus salads, guacamole and, on occasion, ceviche. More info: 516-944-2300, portwashingtondeli.com
Steam table offerings at Port Washington Deli include beef stew, pork rib stew, turkey wing stew and baked pork chops.
Juanito's Deli & Bakery
Juanito's Deli & Bakery (113 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream): This friendly storefront specializes in the fast- casual segment of Chilean cuisine. Made with tender, homemade rolls, the churrasco sandwiches are filled with steak, avocado, tomato and mayonnaise; chacarero sandwiches feature beef, string beans and tomato. Both are unlike anything you have ever tasted before — in a good way. Along with chicken and pork sandwiches, Juanito’s also serves empanadas, Chilean-style hot dogs and bizcochos (elegant Chilean pastries). More info: 516-812-0935
Carlos Oyandel and Cecilia Oyandel of Glen Cove enjoy a meal at Juanito's Deli & Bakery in Valley Stream.
Punta Cana Dominican Grill
Punta Cana Dominican Grill (162 Post Ave., Westbury): Amid a sea of Salvadoran delis, Punta Cana stakes out its Dominican territory. The look is sleek and modern, and the menu features a few stateside staples, but go for the chicharron (fried pork belly), fried whiting, mondongo (stewed tripe), mofongo (garlic-infused mashed plantains, served with your choice of chicken, beef, pork or shrimp) or the Dominican chimi burger, made with a seasoned beef patty topped with cabbage salad and a Russian dressing-like sauce. More info: 516-280-4099
"Tres golpes" (three hits) includes (from left, clockwise) mangú (mashed green plantains with red, pickled onions), salami, queso frito (fried cheese) and huevos (eggs) at Punta Cana Dominican Grill in Westbury.
Huntington Deli (1548 New York Ave., Huntington Station): Salvadoran restaurants and markets line both sides of this Huntington Station stretch of Route 110. One of the busiest is Huntington Deli, which scores with fried and grilled fish; bacalao, reconstituted dried cod that’s been whipped with potatoes; and “barbecued” chicken — actually fried chicken that has been tossed in barbecue sauce with predictably alluring results. Don’t miss the baleadas, huge Honduran flour tortillas (think lavash bread) folded around refried beans and avocado. More info: 631-385-7130
A baleada (flour tortilla with mashed beans and cheese) with avocado at Huntington Deli in Huntington Station.
Golden Pine Deli
Golden Pine Deli (2580 Great Neck Rd., Copiague): This bustling establishment does a great job with that Salvadoran staple, the pupusa, serving the crisp-creamy corn cakes with a mellow cabbage slaw. The steam table boasts whole roast chickens and rich, succulent pork ribs among its treasures. While you wait for your order, browse the small jewelry display. Or, instead of getting takeout, find a spot in the spacious, sun-filled seating area. More info: 631- 842-2489, goldenpinedeli.biz
Rice and beans are central to Latin American cuisine and appear in many guises at Golden Pine Deli in Copiague
Nopal Deli (1808 Fifth Ave., Bay Shore): This bustling deli has dozens of tempting steam- table choices and Mexican-style torta sandwiches, as well as daily specials of some rarely seen specimens such as riguas, open-faced, sweet-corn tamales steamed on banana leaves; plantains that have been fried, split down the middle, stuffed with cheese and sprinkled with cinnamon; and bola de yuca, fried balls of mashed cassava. We were brought up short by what the counterman called nuegados, goose egg-size golden balls of fried, shredded cassava. Biting into one, we expected the hyper-crunch to give way to some yielding center — like a Scotch egg — but no, just hyper-crunchy all the way through. More info: 631-952-9172
Bolas de yuca, balls of fried cassava, are served with a sweet syrup at Nopal Deli in Bay Shore.
Deli La Union
Deli La Union (246 Larkfield Rd., East Northport): In addition to a dependably appealing steam table, this popular eatery gets high marks for its pupusas and tacos, both made to order. In the morning, stop by for the Salvadoran breakfast of revueltas (scrambled eggs with potatoes and sausage), rice, beans, fried plantains and a side of warm tortillas. More info: 631-623-6391
Latin delis with flair
The "Salvadoran breakfast" with eggs, chorizo, pepper, potatoes, red beans, rice, avocado and sweet plantains is served at Deli La Union in East Northport.
La Confianza (175 S. Ocean Ave., Patchogue): Under the same ownership as the adjacent Bravo supermarket, La Confianza caters to customers from all over Central America with yards of roast meats, soups and stews, carne asad (grilled steak) and chayotes rellenos (stuffed and fried chayote). Cecilia Bonilla, who owns the deli with her husband, Jose, makes the popular tamales stuffed with chicken, beans or sweet corn. More info: 631-475-8227, laconfianzadelirestaurant.com
Chayoto stuffed with egg, wrapped in cheese curds and fried (relleno de chayote con cuajada) is a specialty at La Confianza in Patchogue.