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Saturday, Sep 29 2012 05:05 PM

The Food Issue: Exploring local Latin flavors

By James Licea

Latin cuisine can lead food lovers all over the world. You can travel to Peru and have cancha, Brazil for churrasco, El Salvador for pupusa or Puerto Vallarta for mariscos. Or you can stay here in Bakersfield, which is host to a savory list of Latin cuisine. Here is a look at some local Latin restaurants you may want to consider exploring.

Mi Peru
Husband and wife Javier Bautista and Jasan Galvarez were both raised in Peru and grew up with the dishes on the menu at their restaurant, Mi Peru, at 731 California Ave. One of their most popular entrees is the ceviche mixto — seafood prepared with chunks of fish, shrimp, calamari, octopus, clams and mussels marinated in lemon and garnished with a dried, deep-fried corn called “cancha.”
It’s different from the Mexican-style ceviche, Bautista explained. Some are intimidated by it at first, but those who try it, love it.

Related Photos

Mama Roomba’s tri-tip accompanied by a glass of red wine.

Outdoor patio seating at La Costa Mariscos.

Arizona Cafe’s signature chili verde.

Yuca frita from El Ranchito restaurant served with chicharrones.

Mi Peru ceviche micro with cancha corn nuts, accompanied by Cusqueña Peruvian beer and Peruvian Inca Kola drink.

Mama Roomba
This Latin fusion restaurant at 1814 Eye St. has a large variety of popular dishes and tremendous amount of character — decorated with Latin art and pictures of revolutionary Marxist Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The menu consists of several specialty dishes from sweet potato fries and their corn and cheese empanadas, to Latin fried chicken, along with various types of wines and imported beers.
While they have many popular items, a customer favorite is the Brazilian “churrasco” grilled tri-tip, garnished with garlic and sautéed onions.

La Costa Mariscos
This quaint, inviting restaurant at 716 21st St. is family-owned and has been serving delicious seafood for 20 years.
The menu is filled with recipes developed over the years by the family, from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The food is authentic and has stayed consistent throughout the years.
Two of the most popular dishes are “mariscos al ajillo,” made with scallops, octopus, shrimp, fish, with a jalapeño butter cooked in wine, and their shrimp cocktail, made with jumbo shrimp, onion, avocado, cucumber and Clamato juice.

El Ranchito
With two locations — one in the Mercado Latino at 2105 Edison Highway since 1993, and another at 1601 Panama Lane — this family owned El Salvadorian restaurant is known for many dishes. The most popular, the “pupusa”, is a stuffed tortilla usually filled with cheese, refried beans, chicharrón (fried pork) and other items. Pupusas are served with a side of curtido, which is a pickled cabbage that complements the entree.
Another popular dish is “yuca frita,” a fried vegetable similar to potato, served with chicharron. Super Kolashampan, an El Salvadorian soda, will wash down your meal nicely.

Arizona Café
With a full bar, tables and booths, and pictures of Mexican revolutionists Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa on the walls at Arizona Cafe at 809 Baker St., you get the feeling you’ve been taken back in time.
It opened nearly 60 years ago — in 1953 — and manager Jose Ramirez has worked there 37 years of those years. He said the recipes are just as old as the restaurant.
One of the most popular items is the chili verde, satisfying customers for years.

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