Walk into Latin Quarters in North Raleigh and it’s like stepping into a little slice of the Island. “We wanted to give it an authentic feel,”said Julio Marrero, manager of the restaurant. Marrero and his partner Randy Hernandez who owns Tropical Picken Chicken in Wake Forest took over the restaurant 8 months ago. They changed the menu to Puerto Rican with a touch of Cuban and Dominican as well.
“We decided to go with primarily Puerto Rican because that’s what we know. I grew up in the kitchen with my Mom and Dad cooking. We know how to make it authentic,” said Marrero. Marrero who was a contractor in the restaurant business recently relocated to Raleigh from the Bronx, NY to manage the restaurant. He says it’s been a lot of work but it’s a labor of love. “The people here are great. We’re introducing them to a whole new style of cuisine. Sometimes people come in and think we’re a Mexican restaurant but then I give them samples and they stay and absolutely love the food,” says Marrero.
Latin Quarters also is a place where you can learn about Latin culture. On Wednesday nights there’s a Latin dance class taught by professional dancers. On the weekend part of the restaurant turns into a dance floor where people can Salsa, Merengue and have a good time. “It’s an older crowd that likes to come and have a good time. I was worried people would think this is a night club. But it’s gotten popular because no one else is offering something like this. If you come on Wednesday night and learn how to dance then come back on Saturday night it will be a lot of fun for people,” said Marrero. But what really makes Latin Quarters special is the food. The menu features authentic Puerto Rican dishes like Arroz Con Pollos, Arroz Gandules, Tostones and Mofongo. “That’s what we are really known for. People come from all across the state to come here. I was shocked when people started coming from Fayetteville, Chapel Hill and from a few hours away just to eat here,” said Marrero. The restaurant is also has a full bar stocked with authentic Puerto Rican rums,” People love our Mojitos,” Marrero says with a smile.
In the kitchen is Chef Anthony Alvarez who grew up in Puerto Rico and prides himself on using authentic ingredients. “Everything we make is just like it’s made in Puerto Rico. I learned the cuisine on the Island. My mother and father taught me how to cook authentic Puerto Rican food,”says Alvarez. Whether you come for the food or just a good time one thing for sure is you will leave a good feeling. Puerto Ricans are known for their warmth, hospitality and of course great food. “We’ve been received great by Raleigh so far and I’m excited about the future,” said Marrero.