It’s hard to miss chef Bernie Matz’s new spot on Alton Road with its colorful mosaic logo. Called Bernie’s L.A. (as in Latin American) Café, the small space with a red-tile counter serves up Latin favorites with healthy options. Diners add their own heat with Matz’s hot sauces, from mild mango to hot habanero.
The son of Russian and Polish Cubans, Matz grew up in Westchester. These days he divides his time between his new place and the Books & Books Café on Lincoln Road that he opened with bookstore owner Mitchell Kaplan seven years ago.
At the L.A. Café, tacos are constructed with double-grilled corn tortillas, stuffed with a choice of fillings, topped with salsa and served with chipotle yogurt sauce. Tapas include garbanzo beans sautéed with chorizo, coconut-crusted tuna on mango slaw and mahi-mahi ceviche topped with avocado slices.
Salads are served in huge white bowls brimming with greens. Favorites are the tropical with black beans, mango and blue cheese and the SoBe Cobb with pecans. Chilled gazpacho with Cuban toast is available daily while other soups rotate.
Specials include tofu and vegetable stir fry, arroz con pollo made with brown rice and organic quinoa gallo pinto. Platters feature ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in creole sauce), grilled Florida shrimp and lechon asado (slow-roasted pork) with white or whole-grain rice, black beans and a side.
There are also sandwiches, choripan, burgers, fajita wraps and quesadillas, but save room for cream cheese and coconut flan.