Latino's is the sort of small restaurant on the East side of Erie that you'd barely give a second glance to if you didn't know it was there. My wife and I frequently drive past Erie on I-90 and we'd gotten pretty tired of eating at the chain restaurants near the highway, so we scoured TA for suggestions and found Latino's... and we're really glad we did! Read on for more:
Latino's is located near the intersection of 12th Street and Parade St. The neighborhood isn't much to look at, but the restaurant has a small private parking lot across the street for customers, and seemed fine even at night. Coming from I-90, the restaurant is about 15 minutes from the popular Peach Street exit.
The small nondescript entrance hides what is actually a pretty large restaurant and bar, with a sizable event space in the back. They say that there is live entertainment and dancing some nights, but the place was quiet the evening we were there. The full bar offers just about anything you could ask for, and they have a fine selection of Mexican beers -- though mostly of the light "beach beer" varieties... only darker beer on the menu was a Negra Modelo.
The menu is surprisingly small for a Mexican restaurant, and in this case, that's a good thing! There is one page of appetizers, including favorites like Queso Fundido, Guacamole and Ceviche, as well as a salad and soup of the day ($6-12 ea). The soup special while we were there was a Mexican tomato & pasta -- sort of a fired-up minestrone soup that was pretty tasty. The middle of the menu contains the permanent kitchen offerings, and can be described as "Mexico City Home Cooking"... if you're looking for a chimichanga or burrito as big as your head, look elsewhere! Here, the offerings run to Chicken Almendrado, Mole, Puerco (pork) en Chile Verde, and Camarones (shrimp) a la Diabla (spicy!!). $12-$18 each.
But the real feature is the "Comida Corrida" ($16.95) -- a homemade Mexican family meal, with 4 selections that change daily. The kitchen basically makes what their family and staff want to eat that day, and they sell what's left in the restaurant until gone. Included in the price is a bowl of soup or a salad, mexican rice, refried beans and tortillas. On the night we visited, they offered Ropa Vieja -- a slow-cooked and hand-shredded beef mixed with chunks of potato and peppers in a tangy sauce. My wife ordered a Puerco con Chile Verde (pork in green tomatillo sauce), that was stewed until tender with lima beans and cilantro -- it was absolutely delicious and not something you're very likely to find in many restaurants north of the Rio Grande...
The wait staff all collaborate and help each other, so your drink is always filled, and your food comes out piping hot whenever it's ready. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
We spent some time talking with one of the owners, Julio, who told us that all of the traditional ingredients are home-made. They make their Mole from scratch, using peppers and ingredients imported directly from Mexico. When family members travel to Texas or back home, they come back loaded with interesting or hard-to-find ingredients for the restaurant. No other restaurant in (or anywhere NEAR) Erie is going to be able to deliver the kind of food that they do.
Overall, we were very pleased with our meal at Latino's, and it was well worth the detour off the highway to track them down. There is no question that this will become our go-to restaurant whenever we're passing by Erie. Highly recommended!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.