I have the perfect cure for those winter blahs. Have a personal fiesta in Santa Fe's delightfully Southwestern atmosphere. Artifacts from Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico fill the restaurant, and contribute to the feeling of celebration and hospitality.
If you feel you're being treated like family, that's no accident. This is a family owned and run establishment. We were waited on by Tarrytown resident David Dumas, the handsome and gracious son of owner Rick Dumas. David made us feel at ease; he encouraged us to ask about the menu, and offered information and advice on the dishes.
To start, the Margarita couldn't be beat. An order of chunky, flavorful guacamole was enough for two, and beautifully presented with blue, white, yellow, and red corn chips, which were also in a basket on the table.
By far the most popular dish is the house specialty, the Fajitas. Try the traditional steak, a dish we are told was introduced by Mexican cowboys in the American Southwest. Served with fresh pepper, lime juice and garlic, it really does sizzle on every level. Incidentally, the hot salsa, guacamole, and sour cream served on the side turn this into a feast of flavors.
Spanish rice and beans are the usual accompaniment, but sautéed spinach may be substituted. Bring your appetite; portions are generous.
For sheer perfection to fight the chill, Mariscada Seafood Stew is just the ticket. A Mexican style bouillabaise, the half Maine lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and fish are superbly married with a tomato, garlic, and onion broth. Also included is posole, a Mexican hominy which lends an earthiness to this heavenly mixture. Mine was a bit spicy for my taste, but if you prefer, it can be ordered without any added hot sauce.
Served in a pot, it looks and smells as enticing as it tastes.
In fact, Santa Fe has mastered the art of presentation. It's a great boost to the spirit just to see how pretty everything is.
For dessert, the rich, creamy flan, drenched in a light caramel sauce, is almost sinful.
Be aware that even the decaf coffee here is flavorful but strong .
This is a perfect spot for families as well as couples, and larger parties can be easily accommodated. There's an early bird special, and dinner starts at 3:30 p.m., so older folks will be right at home, too.
It's an added bonus that you can phone ahead, and order your meal to go, but why miss the fiesta? There's a reason this eatery has been doing booming business since 1985. It's right near the Tarrytown Music Hall, the ingredients are fresh, the prices are reasonable, and there's a wide enough range of choices to please even the pickiest eater. Even when the place is full, no one rushes you; a leisurely dinner and relaxing evening are more precious than pearls in our harried lives.
My advice to you? Put on your turquoise jewelry, get into the spirit of things, and forget the winter at Santa Fe.