El Santo opens new stage for Mexican dining at West Hartford Center – We-Ha
El Santo Tequila & Mezcal brings the flavors of Mexico to the West Hartford Center.
By Ronni Newton
A fresh and creative take on Mexico City flavors in a cosmopolitan atmosphere defines West Hartford’s newest Mexican restaurant, El Santo, which is open just in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Located at 970 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center, the spacious former Cosi space has been completely transformed with warm wood accents, a full bar and a striking mural by Ben Keller – which will likely appear in many Instagram photos – i.e. a nod to the restaurant’s namesake, Mexican luchadores El Santo, a masked professional wrestler (and actor) whose storied career spanned more than five decades.
The menu is the inspiration of accomplished chef Xiomara Zamudio, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband, Daniel Chavez, as well as Luis Araujo, Yessenia Masias, Lilian Salinas and Alejandro Polanco.
Appetizers and small bites include the artfully served “Hanging Quesadillatas” (with flavor as bold as the presentation) – chorizo and potato and corn quesadillatas hanging from a mini clothesline accompanied by mango salsa. There are also full-size quesadillas, free nachos, fresh guacamole, and pescadillas perfect for sharing ($5-$16).
Tacos – three or four per serving – ($20-24) include luchadores with a choice of meat that includes, campechanos, birria, rib eye, Baja fish, and Gobernador tacos (blue corn tortillas with grilled shrimp, chihuahua queso , alfalfa sprouts and onions).
A variety of meat and seafood entrees ($17 to $30) also highlight the menu and include chicken flautas, enchilada verdes, and a ribeye and octopus casserole. Mexican burgers include Angus beef, pineapple, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and are served with house fries and chihuahua queso.
Seafood options include an impressive Ceviche Sampling Tower or the Ceviche El Santo (fish, shrimp, octopus, calamari, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, jalopenos, avocado, with citrus and olive oil sauce). olive), ocean tostadas and grilled zarandeado butterfly-cut pescado seasoned with Mexican spices and grilled guajillo peppers.
A variety of salads include the Oaxaca Mezcal (arugula, caramelized almonds, tangerines, red onion, goat cheese and sesame seeds with honey mezcal dressing) and a Casear salad ($11-$12) with the option to add chicken, steak, shrimp, scallops or octopus.
The full bar offers a variety of creative tequila and mezcal-based cocktails, including margaritas, infusions, and mescalitas. Wines by the glass, draft and bottled beers, and mocktails are also offered, along with Mexican juices.
Including the bar and a dining area out back, which will be available for private parties, El Santo can accommodate 76 people indoors, plus there is seating on the front patio and along the driveway on the side of the building.
El Santo is located at 970 Farmington Ave. at West Hartford Center. The restaurant will eventually open at 11:00 a.m. and include lunch service, but will only start with dinner. On Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and Mother’s Day (May 8), there will be live mariachis to accompany margaritas and meals.
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