The mariachi band plays at Santa Fe every Friday from 5 to 8 pm. ANGELINA PEREZ / THE QUADRANGLE
By: Angelina Perez, Asst. Features Editor & Web Editor
In recent years, Hispanic enrollment at Manhattan College has reached about fifty percent, making up most of the population and community. The demographics in the Bronx are categorized as a heavily Hispanic populated area, opening cuisine to locals of flavors perfected by rich cultural history. A gourmet adventure unlike any other is promised by the variety of Hispanic eateries surrounding the MC campus.
Santa Fe Grill & Bar was founded in 2003 by Efrain Farciert and Manari Merino, a married couple from Puebla, Mexico, who emigrated to our neighboring state of Connecticut. Farciert and Merino sat down with The Quadrangle to break down the journey that led them to serve the Bronx community with authentic Mexican food.
“I started working very early on at a young age,” Farciert said. “I used to be a chef in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1987 until I decided to open my own restaurant.”
Before this location, located on Broadway only a five minute walk from campus dorms, Lee and Horan, Farciert and Merino opened three restaurants in the tristate area, hitting New York City, New Jersey and their home state of Connecticut.
“The college is very dear to us and it’s a very nice neighborhood,” Farciert said. “That’s why I thought it was a good idea to open here next to [Van Cortlandt Park].”
Their most popular menu items include either seafood or poultry, specifically chicken coming in multiple forms solo or wrapped in a tortilla and surrounded by a variety of toppings such as salsa, peppers and homemade sauces.
“It’s not always very easy to open a business in the beginning,” Merino said. “I started working here as a bartender, since most of the job I do is taking care of the floor making sure we give good service and the drinks and food are coming out good.”
Santa Fe offers variations on flavors for their margaritas such as mango, strawberry, raspberry, passion, tamarindo and coconut frozen or on the rocks. Mojitos, sangrias and pina coladas are offered in addition, both virgin and alcoholic.
“It’s a family owned business which provides a nice atmosphere for families and young adults,” Merino said. “We have a full bar with a variation of drinks containing alcohol and non alcohol, some of which you may be unfamiliar with.”
Every Friday, a live mariachi band plays for customers as diners indulge in the southwestern Mexican menu from 5 to 8 pm with karaoke starting shortly after, lasting all the way past midnight.
“When you bring your college ID you can get up to 15% off your tab,” Merino said. “Sometimes especially as college students you don’t have a big budget and the good thing is you don’t need that to be able to come eat and drink because of our affordable prices. When [professors] host events, they contact us for food and we give affordable prices for the college.”
Organizations on campus willing to collaborate are encouraged to reach out to partners Merino and Farciert.
Farther down Broadway of the 231st stop is El Economico, a Dominican-Puerto Rican fusion restaurant embracing characteristics familiar with the calm island behavior such as older men playing cards and women chatting around smiling.
Famous for their mofongos of cheese, shrimp and chicken, diners can expect a new burst of flavors to reach the menu as El Economico received new ownership in the last year. Their website promotes affordable prices and new ways to create an experience that will have those who decide to step inside begging for more.
El Economico has catered multiple events with MC, such as collaborations with our Hispanic organization Fuerza Latina, and is a constant delivery service for returning students who have gained familiarity with the area.
Across from El Economico sits Malecon, an authentic Caribbean food restaurant with home-style recipes reflecting rich cultural traditions for a reasonable price.
According to their website, Malecon “offers a wide selection of foods such as our customer’s favorites such as our filling seafood platters, to our Signature Rotisserie chicken, Mofongos.”
The word malecon is often associated with waterfront restaurants in the Caribbean surrounded by bright colors, which can be why the owners decided to bring that type of atmospheric environment to the Bronx. Neon lights hang above the seating area, with Latin music able to be heard outside. In hopes of eventually reaching the islands connection to the community.