We tried to find the place once before and literally drove around one night for 30 minutes in the not-so-nice part of town. Luckily, we found it right away this time. Small and secluded, Santiago's is a great place to take a date or even to enjoy the company of a small group of friends. The restaurant's menu is vegetarian friendly, and they have more than 30 tapas-style dishes, soups and salads.
My mother had come once before without me, so she wasted no time ordering the Avocado and Pear Salad right away. Now as you all know I'm not a salad fan, but the mixed greens tossed in a creamy parmesan dressing and topped with toasted pine nuts didn't look half bad. Big chunks of avocado and thin slices of pair decorated the already scrumptious looking dish. According to my mother, her favorite thing about the salad was all of the varying textures. Between the softness of the avocado and the crunchiness of the pear her taste buds were having a field day.
We're both big fans of seafood, so naturally every dish we ordered had some type of ingredient from under the sea. To start, we ordered one of the day's specials, Crab Empanadas. Light yet crisp, the empanadas weren't greasy and flaked away at the touch of my fork. The crab was warm and not too fishy tasting, mixing well with the flavor of the empanada dough.
Next came the Seasoned Grouper, filets encrusted with fennel seed, coriander, and lemon pepper. I'm sad to say I was disappointed with this dish. The seasoning completely overpowered the taste of the fish. The grouper was tender and delicious, and the hard texture of the breading was not appealing. Call me simple, but sometimes less really is more.
My absolute favorite dish came next-- fresh Tuna Ceviche with mangos, avocados, lime juice and cilantro. Words can't even describe the tuna. Paired with the mangos and citrus, each bite had just the right amount of tanginess while still keeping the flavor of the fish. Each hunk of tuna was like heaven in my mouth. Needless to say, the dish was devoured in seconds flat.
Next time I'm home I can't wait to go back and try the Spanakopita, spinach, feta, and onion baked in phyllo pastry and drizzled with hollandaise sauce.
The place is pretty small, so make sure to call in a reservation ahead of time for lunch or dinner. (305-296-7691) They're open from 11am to 10pm all week long. The menu may seem somewhat pricey, but I promise you it's worth every penny.