Tomatillo, a little eatery in Dobbs Ferry, does not feature authentic Mexican cuisine overall; but local produce and the inspiration for fresh innovative fare serve it well. Many of their seasonal ingredients come right from the Hudson Valley including organic produce from the impressive Stone Barns Center.
The restaurant is small in square footage and features a very high crenulated ceiling which can raise noise levels a bit when busy. Walls complement one another with bright yellows, oranges, and greens. Funky little sculptures hang playfully from the walls providing a little smile and whimsy. What the giraffe in ballet slippers has to do with “Mexican” food is just another statement that you are not in Mexico, this is “Mexchester” as the verbiage on the sign notes.
The vibe is light. You most likely will be seated by friendly faces eager to get you into your meal. Once seated, freshly made tortilla chips arrive at the table with a bright red flavorful salsa. Glancing at the menu, one might want to try the guacamole which is made daily. The “guac” was good but needed a little fresh lime juice blended into it. A few squeezes brought it up-to-snuff.
Looking to the counter area, you will notice fresh beers on tap and a huge selection by the bottle. The beer list features the local brews of Captain Lawrence and interesting not-so-usual offerings. For example, take the delicious and refreshing Allagash White from Maine, or the interesting flavors of Brooklyn brewed Kelso’s Saison. Wine and good quality tequilas are available too.
A quesadilla is a good first choice. They are offered with numerous fillings and choice of sauces. One option is to have it filled with grilled skirt steak. It was so wonderfully smoky and tender, accompanied with cilantro pesto for spreading or dipping. If you like cilantro, you will be pleased as it paired well with the skirt steak and tortilla, hot from the griddle.
Next up, tacos of all kinds. Again, choice of sauces/salsas. If you move through the menu you may want to consider making good choices while matching sauces to fillings so as not to repeat a combination. Although they offer several sauces, it can be a bit challenging. You can order two tacos for one price which are served with Spanish rice and black beans. One option is the bean taco with lettuce, pico de gallo (very small dollop here, could have been more substantial) and what they call a BBQ chipotle sauce. The sauce was a nice surprise. BBQ sauces can be a bit on the sweet side and this was not. Also there was a slight element of heat from the chipotle but not overbearing and of course the wonderfully smoky characteristic of chipotle (a smoked jalapeño). Taco number two was the fish taco which was lightly fried in a cornmeal crust. Very light, very tender. This is served with a tomatillo sauce. The tomatillo had it characteristically tangy bite. The tortillas were very traditional and made from masa harina.
A dish called the three tamales may catch your interest and consider giving it a whirl. The tamales, when presented were already removed from the husk with a spooning of the paired sauce. These savory tamales were tender and beautifully steamed with just enough savory filling to complement. Filling and sauce combos consisted of: Chicken and mole, pork and chipotle, poblano and serrano. Although portions were small, the masa can be filling and this is a fun dish to share with a friend.
Burritos are “build your own”. If the idea of constructing your own is daunting, they offer eighteen choices already designed for you with fun names like “Mister Shrimp, Earth ‘n’ Turf, or Syd Fishus.” The Iron Man burrito was quite good. The burrito’s size is a bit much for one person. This one was stuffed with grilled skirt steak, red peppers, rice, pinto beans, and chipotle. It had a bit of a zing, so the icy beer was necessary or some iced water on hand. Very filling and a great value at $10.95.
Finally, it was time for homemade flan. Although a small portion, one really doesn’t “need” bigger. The custard was tender, not rubbery, and it was drenched in that wonderful just slightly sweet and caramelized dulce de leche sauce.
If you’re looking for “authentic” Mexican, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for Mexican inspired dishes with interesting new twists, then go for it! Just like it’s name, “Tomatillo.” It may look like a tomato on the outside, but it isn’t.
13 Cedar Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY