Celebrate the sizzle of Latino cuisine and culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month (Tuesday-Oct.15) and enjoy the contributions of the USA's largest minority ethnic group. Danny Lopez, of Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center (nhccnm.org), shares with Kathy Baruffi for USA TODAY his list of places to spice it up.
Barelas Coffee HouseAlbuquerque "Everything about this place screams New Mexico!" Lopez says of this hot spot in the historic Barelas neighborhood where the National Hispanic Cultural Center is located. "The huevos rancheros taste like they just came from grandma's kitchen at this old house-turned-restaurant, where people from all walks of life gather. Order your meal 'Christmas' style if you can't decide between the red or green chile." 505-843-7577
HavanaWest Palm Beach, Fla. "Photos of celebrities, from Gloria Estefan to Rod Stewart, and awards fill a wall of this Cuban restaurant, where succulent roast pork, Havana-style steak and fresh seafood are standards," Perez says. Order from the restaurant's takeout window and have a party on the beaches of Palm Beach County. 561-547-9799; havanacubanfood.com
The Gardens of TaxcoWest Hollywood, Calif. "This quaint locale takes you back to colonial Mexico," Lopez says. "There is no printed menu, and you are presented with your choices verbally by the friendly wait staff. The enchiladas are mouth-watering, the beer is cold and the margaritas are strong." End your meal with a fine sherry and the Bananas and Cream Rio Frio. 323-654-1746; gardensoftaxco.com
Andina RestaurantPortland, Ore. "This is a vibrant Peruvian restaurant with live music in the bar every night of the week," Perez says. The owner walks around to chat with her guests, adding to the warm, inviting atmosphere. Try the Causa Mixta Nikkei, Peruvian tapas with a key lime-spiked mashed-potato base, topped with crab, tuna and crispy shrimp. Quinoa salad and other vegetarian choices also are offered here. 503-228-9535; andinarestaurant.com
Las BugambiliasPhiladelphia "For authentic Mexican food you don't want to pass up Las Bugambilias," Lopez says. "Desserts are made on-site and the tequila selection is second to none. Try their pineapple-chipotle margarita with chipotle-infused tequila." Sept. 20, Philadelphia hosts the Feria del Barrio, a free street festival. 215-922-3190; lasbugambiliasphilly.com
Jack-n-GrillDenver "I have an affinity for this place, as the owners hail from New Mexico," Perez says. "It's a great place for New Mexican food, including killer green chile, as well as delicious 'south of the border' dishes. The guacamole is second to none and the mammoth Juarez burger will fill you up, along with a friend or two." Visit El Chapultepec, a jazz club with Spanish roots, or the Museo de las Americas nearby. 303-964-9544; jackngrill.com
Mi TierraSan Antonio "If you haven't visited Mi Tierra yet, you have not truly experienced San Antonio," Lopez says. "This family-owned restaurant, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served 24 hours a day, has been in operation since the '40s. Don't miss their incredible panadería (bakery)." The restaurant is in Market Square, a lively center of Mexican culture. The Museo Alameda, a Smithsonian affiliate dedicated to the achievements of Latin Americans in the USA, is also there. 210-225-1262; mitierracafe.com