Latino vibes with margaritas that rock.


You head here because you love Latino food, Latino music and the relaxed exuberance of the whole Latino ‘alegria’. You choose Besos because you want authenticity, an alternative to refried beans and nachos and because you are on the hunt for the best margaritas this side of Mexico. You choose Besos because you want friendly, engaging service from passionate and interesting hosts, and you choose it because one of your favourite dishes of all time is ceviche.


The menu at Besos Latinos is short and uncomplicated. Central to the choice is a selection of ceviche, each given a unique Latino-inspired treatment. Our favourite is the Clásico, but we typically order one of each because they are all worth sharing. Another that gets the tastebuds working overtime is the Amarillo Spicy, a tangy meld of chilli, lime, ginger, orange, red onion and coriander. If cured fish is not your thing, then the shrimp quesadilla with grilled shrimp, cheese, sweetcorn, chipotle sauce and guacamole is delicioso. For something more substantial, try the King Crab taco, a Baja-style battered king crab with avocado cream, flour tortilla and jalapeño. It’s finger-licking superb. Oh, did we mention a margarita to wash it down?


Chef Luis Cabrera and his wife Cecilia Lara are both Mexican and both fully conversant with the subtle characteristics of Mexican, Argentinian, Cuban, Chilean and Peruvian food. We recall the opening of Besos around 12 years ago. In an unbelievably short time, it morphed from being a quiet haunt of the local Latino food cognoscenti into one of the most popular ethnic eateries in the central city. We wrote then that “much of the credit must go to the well-travelled and hugely experienced Luis who as chef delivers a menu that represents the real essence of what constitutes truly Latin American food”. Nothing has changed. The nuance Luis brings to his dishes remains. You still won’t find the highly seasoned Tex Mex offerings of the American southern states or the ubiquitous Mexican taverna. The food at Besos Latinos is more subtle, more complex and therefore much more beguiling. Luis is not in the kitchen so much these days, but his influence is clearly felt by those currently in front of the stoves.


Luis and Cecilia Lara are a tight team and wonderful hosts. Theirs has not been an easy journey over the last couple of years. Having to move from their original site in Elliot Stables, coping with the difficulties of finding staff and dealing, as others have had to, with the constraints of COVID-19 has taken a toll. Yet all through, Luis and Cecilia Lara have maintained their sense of humour and an impassioned commitment to making sure their hordes of regular guests are well taken care of. They have forged a strong community of supporters who have given them a clear mandate for their approach to Latino food.


Expect to see familiar faces at Besos Latinos. It has a huge following as much for the genuinely friendly hospitality on offer as for the satisfaction you get from the menu.    

132 Halsey St, Auckland
Check website for opening hours
MAINS: $18 – $32
CONTACT: 09 218 4846