Chef Tito’s reputation preceded him. Walking into the Latin Bistro on a recent Friday evening, it took all of 30 seconds to get a glimpse of his colorful personality.
Sporting a very tall toque with his bushy ponytail tucked under it, Tito can be seen cooking in the open kitchen, inviting flames to shoot up from the skillet. When he’s not behind the stove, he works the room, serving dishes and chatting up his patrons.
The Latin Bistro has only been open since 2010, but it has quickly gained a legion of fans who flock there for a more authentic sampling of Mexican fare, along the lines of Frida’s in southern Johnson County. Everything but the tortillas and chips are homemade, including a vast array of sauces.
We started with squash blossom quesadillas , which were very tasty and buttery. Not as memorable as the ones I’ve had at Frida’s, but still a notch above the typical cheese or chicken filling. They were served with two sauces, a red epazote sauce and a creamy chipotle sauce. I would normally have preferred the one without cream, but I didn’t love the epazote. It’s a Mexican herb (best known as an additive when cooking black beans to make them socially acceptable to eat in public), and most closely resembles Mexican oregano.
The tamales came with the same red sauce and a mild tomatillo sauce, and were light and delicious.
I’m a sucker for mole and order it whenever I see it on a menu. At the Latin Bistro, it comes two ways, either smothering chicken enchiladas or a half chicken. Either way it’s a winner, because Chef Tito’s sauce is made as it should be–not too bitter, not too sweet. It was dark, rich and smooth and the chocolate and chile flavors had a pleasing balance.