Table Hopping: Longitud315 brings South American flavors close to home
Longitud315's Churrascos plate features Argentine skirt steak, Brazilian sausage, Mexican chicken breast, rice, beans and Central American-style yuca ($24.95). | Lee A. Litas~Sun-Times Media
315 Waukegan Road, Highwood
4:30-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday; 2-10 p.m. Friday; Noon – 10 p.m. Saturday; brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. then dinner, 3-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Tuesday
(847) 926-7495 or see: longitud315.com
Updated: March 5, 2013 2:03PM
If jetting down to the equator to sample gastronomy from a variety of South American cultures is not in the cards for you this weekend, just head over to Longitud315 in Highwood.
There, chef/owner Tony Castillo will prepare dishes featuring a unique fusion of Brazilian, Argentine, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Colombian and Mexican cuisines.
The youngest of seven children born to Mexican and Venezuelan parents, Castillo began cooking at his grandmother’s knee in Sucre, Venezuela, at the ripe ol’ age of seven. The task came naturally to him but, at 14, when Castillo moved back to Cuernavaca, Mexico, he was chided for spending any time at all in the kitchen.
“In Venezuela it is completely normal for a man to be in the kitchen but in Mexico I was a big disappointment to my brothers,” said Castillo. Despite the ribbing, the natural-born chef stuck to his ambition, working in a variety of corporate and private endeavors before opening his own place.
He planned to showcase his Venezuelan grandmother’s cooking, distinguished for open flame grilling of meats and seafood. So when Castillo discovered that the line that crosses all of South America is longitude 315°, he knew he’d found his name.
Opened last November, reservations are already taken two weeks ahead at the 94-seat spot in the center of bustling Highwood. In addition to focusing on authentic cuisine, Castillo also takes pride in offering wholesome dishes cooked with organic products free of synthetic preservatives, growth hormones or genetically modified ingredients.
The menu pays homage to his family with dishes like Arepas Doña Ynes, his mother’s favorite, which Castillo named in her honor. Small but mighty, these miniature white corn cheese cakes come topped with tangy shredded chicken and avocado, then are slathered in red pepper cream sauce ($8.95). Also available in vegetarian.
Brazilian-style crab cakes are made without any flour and are a delicious and gluten free dish. Just lump blue crab meat, delicately grilled on an open flame then served with Peruvian slaw (2/$8.95 or 4/$16.95).
The Del Mar sampler small plate appetizer includes sweet Argentine-style shrimp ceviche, Japanese-inspired ahi tuna tartar and spicy Mexican chupil de mango with dorado, a firm-textured fish ($22.95).
The one plate Castillo hopes guests will order is his signature Churrascos because it offers a cross-section of South and Central American fare. Each plate features juicy “jugoso” Argentine skirt steak, hot Brazilian sausage, Mexican red chicken breast, rice, beans and Central American-style crispy-fried yuca ($24.95).
Back in Cuernavaca, Castillo’s family has a langostino farm which inspired his Diablitos — “little devils.” The jumbo langostinos are tossed in a hot red sauce that is tempered by the rainbow of exotic fruit accompanying it, from carambola (starfruit) to fresh papaya ($26.95).
“I think it’s really important for people to know that when a chef is meant to be a chef, he has a lot to offer and cooks from his heart,” said Castillo.