When Fernando Sauri first opened Tamarindo’s in Broad Axe in 1999, he declared that his mission was “to create a new Mexican revolution,” and then he laughed.
When Fernando Sauri first opened Tamarindo’s in Broad Axe in 1999, he declared that his mission was “to create a new Mexican revolution,” and then he laughed. The native of Mérida, the vibrant capital of Mexico’s Yucatán province, explained simply that Tamarindo’s would not be featuring what many guests might be expecting in the usual Mexican restaurant.
You know chimichangas, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and the like. Not that you won’t find an occasional variation of one of these popular Southwestern dishes on the menu, but Sauri planned to specialize in modern Mexican cuisine as well as new offerings inspired by his own proud Mayan culture of Yucatán.
Since he closed the Broad Axe restaurant and opened a brand-new Tamarindo’s in Flourtown on September 9, 2016, Sauri has continued his avowed mission. And from Thursday, May 4, through Sunday, May 7, Tamarindo’s will celebrate the feast of Cinco de Mayo with a special Yucatecan-based menu.
Cinco de Mayo, the fifth day of May, is a holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862, victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Coincidentally, Tamarindo’s executive chef, Albino Castillo, who once directed the kitchen at Sansom Street’s vaunted Oyster House, was born in Puebla and has created a wholly new menu just for the occasion.
Among the appetizers and salads one can order are Mussels Escabeche, or sautéed mussels with a jalapeño mescal tomatillo salsa; Burrata Tricolor (Mexico’s flag, of course – green, white, and red stripes) – burrata cheese (white) combined with roasted red peppers and long hots (green) in a broken vinaigrette; Ensalata de Durazno, or peaches, cherries, hazelnuts and pancetta served over a bed of arugula in an orange lime vinaigrette; and Traditional Caesar Salad.
Don’t laugh. Fernando Sauri recalls the little-known origin of this popular salad, which was invented in the early 1920s by Caesar Cardino, an Italian chef who owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo entrées include Short Ribs Rojos, or short ribs marinated in annatto seeds (an orange-lime-tasting condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree of Central America), served with rice and vegetables; Pastelito de Jaiba, or crab cake served atop braised chickpeas and finished with a remoulade sauce; and Striped Bass Piloto, or grilled striped bass filet topped with a Peruvian yellow aji (a spicy sauce made with tomatoes, cilantro, onions, water, and aji pepper), served with lentil salad and broccolini.
Desserts include the more familiar Churros, Flan, and Pastel de Chocolate, a rich, dark Mexican chocolate cake.
Guests can enjoy their meal in the ambiance of a warm, earthy dining room, featuring either stone walls or other walls and posts painted bright yellow. One especially entrancing wall is adorned with murals depicting Mayan hieroglyphics and featuring Mayan deities and heroes, as well as Mayan masks and artifacts. And they will be served by Sauri’s wife, Gabriella, and his son, Jacob.
Guests will also be able to dine outdoors on Tamarindo’s new patio, which is expected to open on April 27. The spacious patio, partly covered by a wooden roof, will seat 65 at tables of four or six, as well as in an open-air section seating about 40. Both sections will be heated by tall heat lamps to allow comfortable dining virtually all year round.
A resident of the U.S. for the past thirty years, Fernando Sauri says he has met only a few people who hail from his native Yucatán, so he is not surprised that his guests still find Tamarindo’s menus refreshingly different from those at other Mexican restaurants. And the new summer menu will soon be available.
Tamarindo’s, 726 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, 215-619-2390, tamarindosrestaurant.com. Hours are Tuesday-Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 to 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 3 to 8 p.m.