Paella campesina, topped with chicken, chorizo sausage and artichokes, is...

Paella campesina, topped with chicken, chorizo sausage and artichokes, is a specialty at Villa Lobos Tapas Bar in Freeport. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

It's that peculiar time of year when it's almost summer, but not quite — when the last days of school overlap with weekend beach days and the sunshine is warm but not yet blistering. Before you head out on vacation, why not have a local adventure at one of these places, all opened within the last year, that offer flavorful breaks from the norm.

Kusinera (192 E. Meadow Ave., East Meadow): There's a whole lot to love about crispy spring rolls (lumpia), stewed chicken tinged with vinegar (chicken adobo) or cubed, seared pork shoulder tossed with spices (sizzling sisig). Long Island's newest Filipino restaurant, Kusinera, is also one of its only Filipino restaurants, a place where you can indulge a cuisine that combines flavors such as soy, garlic, tamarind, chilies and vinegar in novel ways. Chef-owner Joy Ann Salanga changes the scratch menu daily, but the setting (bright, modern and breezy) is always inviting. Plates, ordered at the counter, start around $8, and there is both indoor and outdoor seating. More info: 516-246-9419

Villa Lobos Tapas Bar (499 S. Main St., Freeport): Another lesser represented cuisine on our bonny isle is Spanish food, but this marina-side tapas place, which opened in Freeport in Sept., helps fill that gap. Skewers of calamari and shishito peppers (called pintxo) or ham-filled croquettes pave the way toward heartier dishes such as tortilla Española, paella or a porterhouse steak drizzled with chorizo oil. A focused, excellent wine list and extensive choice of sherries await, too. Eat outside on the patio or in the cozier  dining room. More info: 516-608-6042, villalobostapas.com

Picchu (1245 Middle Country Rd., Selden): Peruvian cuisine is fairly well entrenched in Nassau County, but not so much further east. This funky spot, with a curved bar and mural-lined dining room, celebrates the fusion-y nature of Peruvian food with dishes such as ceviche, anticucho (marinated, grilled beef hearts) and tallarines, or Peruvian-style spaghetti tossed in pesto. A particular standout is the crispy, copper-hued rotisserie chicken served with creamy garlic and black-olive sauces, a foil for grocery-store rotiserrie chicken and one that travels just as well. More info: 631-320-0206 

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