Food Trucks

Latin House Grill May Be Addictive

Suburban strip mall locations in "La Souwesera" (Westchester) take on a second life at night, when the Latin House Grill sets up shop.   A tire business becomes the porch for the LHG crew, a family operation headed by Michel Sanchez.  A plastic card table and folding chairs are set up for patrons waiting for their orders or who want to chomp down on their food right away.  On my nightly visits, there was a steady stream of customers.  There always seemed to be one or two who were there for the second or third time that week, ready to try get their "flatton" fix again.

The menu at Latin House Grill is eclectic, but combines mostly Mexican and Cuban influences into compelling street food.  The four-month old food trailer already has many regulars, but new customers quickly come to feel like regulars, too.   Sanchez and his fiancée Bella Cespedes, warmly greet those who appear at the window.  They ask their new customers how they heard about LHG: "Are you a stalker?"  Twitter and Facebook fans are affectionately called stalkers, and Latin House Grill sometimes offers "stalker box" combos to their fans.

Ordering at Latin House Grill can be overwhelming, like a kid

choosing which Silly Bandz to get with her allowance money.  Any taco,

puffy taco, puffy flatton, or flatton can be prepared with your

choice of meat: carne asada, rib eye in "Philly style," citrus cilantro chicken, or Cabo Wabo fish tempura.

A flatton is an open face flatbread or fried flatbread ($6) topped with

your choice of meat and sauces.  I suggest you ask for the regular rib

eye flatton with onions and cheese.  Then ask Sanchez to top it with pico de

gallo, avocado lime sauce, and as much of the fiery habanero-mango as

you can stand.  You can also ask for some of the homemade crema. The rib

eye is not delicate--it's salty and moist, with a satisfying texture. 

There's sweetness somewhere in the flatton that balances the saltiness

and acidity of the meat.  I'm not sure what Philly folks would have to say about it, but this Miami girl likes it.  The

flatton is served with rueditas, which are kind of like puffed wheat


Puffed wheat may sound vaguely wholesome, but in the hands of Latin House

Grill, it is transformed into a greasy, crunchy delicacy.  Fried treats like the rueditas and the puffy tacos should be consumed

onsite; otherwise they wither in your mouth.

The Chuchi rice bowl ($6-$7) is another must try.  This generous dish is not to be confused with the lackluster ilk at those ubiquitous chicken bowl joints.  The Chuchi rice bowl is as tasty as it is

colorful.  The yellow rice is moist, but not clumpy or mushy.  The

homemade pico de gallo is sour and vibrant, with properly crunchy

onion.  When I visited, they happened to have cilantro, which highlighted

all of the flavors.  I like

the Chuchi rice bowl best with carne asada and avocado lime sauce--actually everything I tried

with the tender, juicy carne asada was excellent. 

The chimiburrito ($6-$7) is not for the faint of appetite.  This gut

buster is a flour tortilla wrapped around the rice from the Chuchi bowl

and the meat of your choice.  It's deep fried, and then topped with pico

de gallo and the sauces of your choice. The carne asada and fried egg

chimiburrito is way more than I can eat in

one sitting, but the plump meat roll-up is salty steak goodness, mottled

with the yellow rice, and tempered by the egg.  If you want a contrast

of sweet and savory, you can ask for a fried maduro instead.  A lonely

maduro in a  chimiburrito was a welcome burst of sweetness--I only

wish there had been maybe one more.

In a nod to vegetarians and the more health conscious, Latin House Grill

offers a soy cilantro taco.  The crumbled and grilled soy protein has a

chewy texture which approximates the juiciness of a well-grilled piece

of meat. Pretty much every protein at Latin House Grill is marinated to

boost flavor, including the soy protein. This taco makes a tasty snack.   I appreciate that LHG did not try to

give it a name suggesting any other meat dish.  Your vegetarian friends

will probably be pleased, but it's the meat and seafood dishes that are clearly the

stars here. 

Tacos in all combinations provide a smaller, but just as satisfying

meal.  A chorizo and potato taco exudes paprika smokiness.  Chunks of soft

potato amp up the comfort food quotient, and the sauces and pico

add zing.  Rueditas are served on the side.

Other items on the menu include the Mad Love burger, a delicious gut bomb of a

burger that you can order with grilled onions or skinny fried potatoes;

Mad Love sliders; and Sneaky Nachos topped with meat and four cheeses. 

On weekends, you can order the Wholly Guacamole.  They also carry

Mexican Coke and Jarritos in glass bottles.  I'm not usually a soda

drinker, but it's a refreshing drink good for soaking up rich, greasy


The extended family has a hand in the food preparation too, including

Sanchez's sister, who makes the Balls to the Wall and other

desserts.  Balls to the Wall ($3) is deep fried brownies, fried on

site and then blanketed in condensed milk.  They remind me of Munchkins, from Dunkin Doughnuts, but with more heft.  Maybe this is

what a Munchkin would taste like when it came fresh out of the fryer,

and if it had twice the density and a darker chocolate flavor.  A

cinnamon hint in the fried dough makes the dessert as fragrant as the best

county fair food.

Latin House Grill regularly updates and adds to the menu.  Every time I

went, there was something new to try.  Sanchez says the menu is still

evolving, based on what customers enjoy.  The variety also makes it more

fun for Sanchez and his crew.  Apparently, the menu has changed almost

completely since the first day they opened, but it looks like they've found

some consistent favorites like the flatton, the chimiburrito and their

tacos, while they continue to experiment with other interesting dishes. 

Make sure to ask for the sauces, toppings, and fillings you want.  Or

just ask Sanchez to add the sauces and toppings he sees fit.  But don't

just order something plain--the sauces and toppings maximize all of the

flavors here.   Regulars have been asking Sanchez when he will market

his sauces.  The creamy avocado lime, habanero mango, pineapple

chipotle, and mango ghost sauces (Sanchez grows ghost peppers) richly

expand the flavor potential of the food here.

This is not fast food, so don't expect to just order and go.  Most

dishes are grilled and assembled as they are ordered.  However, they

won't leave you "pintado en la pared," or ignored either.  Sanchez likes

to chat with customers, amiably explaining the kinds of sauces he whips

up.  If you have any questions about the menu, Cespedes will answer them. 

It ends up feeling like you are sitting around in your friend's spartan

backyard--one that was paved over to avoid cutting the grass (you know

the kind).  You can also call ahead to place orders, if they are not too

slammed with customers to answer the phone. 

Latin House Grill is usually out Tuesdays through Saturdays, although it sometimes take the weekend off.  They are usually in the

Westchester area, although they can sometimes be found in the Doral or

in East Kendall.  You can keep up with them on Twitter (@

latinhousegrill) or Facebook.  They serve lunch and

dinner, although the lunch menu may be limited. You can also reach

them at 786-468-6567.