Latin Bites Café

Roberto Castre, originally from Lima, Peru, came to Houston a few years ago, moved to Miami and then came back here to open Latin Bites Café (1304 Nance, 713-229-8369) in the arts warehouse district just northeast of downtown. "It reminds me of the area in Lima known as Barranco, which is very colorful and bohemian and full of artists," says Castre. Castre is joined in this venture by his sister and brother-in-law, who also help out in the restaurant as well as the family catering business.

Much of the food is traditional, with a twist. The papas a la crema are inspired by classic papas a la huancaina, or potatoes in a spicy cheese sauce, but this version will be served with aji amarillo, the spicy yellow pepper, rocotto, a red type of pepper and cilantro. "I'm making the food more contemporary," says Castre. "We've included a ceviche bar, which is a new concept for Houston, where customers can watch us prepare their ceviche, cut up the fish and add the lime juice."

Dish watched Chef Castre prepare the ceviche mixto, which consisted of flounder, shrimp, squid and octopus with slices of red onions, all marinated in lime juice with aji amarillo and leche de tigre, or lime juice mixed with peppers. The ceviche was as fresh as it could be, and the peppers added a nice kick. This was followed by an excellent cubano, or Cuban sandwich, which Castre makes on a ciabatta roll, with ham, pulled roast pork Swiss and provolone cheese, sweet pickles and pesto. The suspiro limeño is a mousse made of dulce de leche and served with a meringue. You'll hope it never ends.

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