Real Mexican home cooking is the essence of Santa Maria. Cheap and real, actually. When eating out with his wife and two children in Reykjavík, Ernesto was always shocked by how expensive everything was and noted that the closest thing to Mexican food was Tex-Mex, which just didn’t cut it. “I wanted to open a place that would be accessible to everyone, and make food just as my mother makes back in Mexico.”
Open for nearly a year and a half now, Santa Maria serves up authentic Mexican dishes – the biggest crowd pleasers being the quesadilla’s, enchiladas with mole sauce, tacos and flautas – made of only the freshest ingredients. “We don’t have any place in the restaurant to store food or to freeze things so we make everything brand new and fresh every day,” says Ernesto, likening this approach to a real home kitchen.
Using exclusively fresh ingredients is the reason why Santa Maria has recently had to raise their prices, up 200 ISK from the universal 990 ISK. “We could offer everything at such a low price for the first year without losing money but, with the prices of fresh foods what they are, we had to charge a little more,” the owner explained. Still, even with the increased prices patrons can eat and drink for 1.700 ISK, a huge draw for the 150-200 people who dine at Santa Maria daily.
Great prices and an expansive menu of fresh and authentic Mexican fare – with a bunch of new editions to check out – make Santa Maria one of the best places to grab a cheap bite in this city.
“My mom made the menu!” Santa Maria owner Ernesto explained with a chuckle, going on to muse about a tiff that broke out between his mother and a trained chef as to the order in which onions and garlic should be added to a pan. Onions first. His mother won.