Chef Chat

Where the Chefs Eat, Latin Edition: Castre, Guerrero, Ortega

Last week, we told you where chefs Ryan Hildebrand, Michael Pellegrino and Kaz Edwards like to eat when they're not in the kitchen.

Today, we bring you three Latin chefs' perspective when we chat with Roberto Castre, David Guerrero and Hugo Ortega.

Roberto Castre Executive Chef and Owner, Latin Bites Cafe

Standard go-to: My standard go-to would have to be Pollo Bravo. I love to get the whole rotisserie chicken that comes with my favorite salchi papas (french fries and sausage) sides -- just $9.99. It's huge, and I love to share it with friends -- best deal around!

Cheap eats: Café Pita- this Bosnian restaurant was highlighted on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I heard about it and went, and now I live by their lamb stew and Hadzijski Cevap, also just $9.99. It's a combo dish which combines cevapi, beef kebab and veggies, sautéed in a light, creamy tomato sauce. The cevap sandwich is also a great dish -- ground beef mixed with flavorful spices in a sausage links-style served with lepinja bread, fresh onions and kajmak. It is such a big plate for such a low cost, and has unique and bold flavors.

Happy hour: My new favorite place is Nabi, located on lower Westheimer. This new Korean restaurant is my favorite with its all-night happy hour on Sunday, which is my only day off. My favorite is the Korean pizza, Korean-style fried chicken, tempura seasonal fish, BBQ pulled pork and $4 beer and sake.

David Guerrero Executive Chef at Samba Grille

Standard go-to: On my day off, Monday, I have two really good standard go-to restaurants. Latin Bites, which is owned by my good friend Chef Roberto, is one of my favorite places to go. To drink, I love the maracuya sour. And every time I go, I order my two favorite things to eat: anticuchos and ceviche pescador, which is a little bit spicier 'cause it has three different ajis: limo, rocoto and aji amarillo. It makes me sweat! My second would have to be La Fisheria. I always order one thing for sure -- the crispy potatoes and octopus with vanilla oil. I make sure to ask for fresh lime and this secret sauce that you have to ask for, otherwise they won't put it on the table for you. It's a roasted habanero and cacao sauce, chef Aquiles's Special sauce, and I pair this with an amazing, addicting, unique margarita! Chamoy margarita with mezcal on the rocks is sweet, spicy and salty -- wow. A must-try!

Cheap eats: For my cheap eats I find myself addicted to this new place. It used to be Ruchi's, but now I am involved with this after-hours (till 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday) Colombian restaurant, Tropical's. It's very clean, and all they play for music is salsa. Perfect after my salsa dance night! It's a really good spot with friends and close to my apartment. The manager, he knows what I always eat, so he doesn't bother to bring me a menu. Lulo juice and Colombian Burger, very different, with blueberry sauce, pineapple sauce and cracker ruffles. I know, sounds weird, but just try it and thank me later. They also have an amazing aguado (chicken soup), arepas, chuzos, perros calientes with quail egg. I love it.

Hugo Ortega James Beard Semi-Finalist, Best Chef Southwest, 2012 Executive Chef and Owner of Hugo's

Standard go-to: Our go-to restaurant is Goode Co. Seafood. "We go as a family almost every weekend. We always get appellation oysters when they are available, mesquite grilled catfish with seafood rice and campechana. I usually always have the gumbo. We always order more than we can eat. Another regular spot is Bamboo House on Waugh. Our daughter loves dumplings and has to have the Shanghai Mini Buns every time we go. We love the personal attention from Bessie. Sometimes if it's been a long weekend, we get our meal to go."

Cheap eats: "We like to go to Niko Niko's on Sunday nights. It's a good value and good food. We get an appetizer of tabbouleh and hummus, and we all order the lamb gyro with french fries. They are always busy, and the food is always fresh."

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham