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Exterior. Foto: Eli Siegel
Exterior. Photo: Eli Siegel

A sophisticated, contemporary take on classic Mexican cuisine

A fusion of all the best of Mexican cuisine in Flourtown, PA. 

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Over the past few decades, Philadelphia’s Mexican restaurant offerings have exploded with ever more diverse options. There’s everything from small taquerias to ice cream shops to elaborate dine-in restaurants. Among the mix of these different options is Tamarindos, a contemporary Mexican restaurant located in Flourtown that serves traditional Mexican dishes, but with unique combinations of flavor. These elaborate mixtures are inspired by classic Yucatecan cooking that was influenced by connections to Europe, New Orleans, Cuba and the indigenous population.

“We want to create the perfect dish,” explained owner Fernando Sauri, who has worked in Philadelphia’s Mexican food scene for over 20 years. “Something spicy, sweet and sour with a bit of salt added in. We want to find that balance.”

At the core of Tamarindos’ menu are over 20 different entrees, ranging from meat to fish to vegetarian dishes, that all seek to create a wonderful mixture of taste. Take, for instance, the Tilapia Compechano plate (a Tilapia fillet marinated and grilled, covered with a tomatillo jalapeño sauce and topped with avocado slices). The tomatillos add a sour touch, while the jalapenos make the sauce spicy and the avocado slices create a smooth finish.

Other favorites include: the Carne de Elote (grilled skirt steak, covered with mole sauce and topped with a mix of avocado, corn and queso fresco, served with rice and beans); Fajas Camaron (shrimp fajitas, mixed with red pepper and onion, served with sauces, beans and corn tortillas); and the Tinga de Puerco (pork cooked in chipotle and chorizo, served with rice,beans and plantain bananas).

Such detailed creations should not come as a surprise — owner Sauri has had a long, extensive career in the world of Mexican cuisine.

“I’ve spent my whole life in the food business,” Sauri said with a smile.

Originally from Merida in the Yucatan, Suari got his start working in a pizzeria after school. He later went to Cancun where he worked in places such as Carlos and Charlies and the Hard Rock Cafe. It was in that environment he met his wife, an American from just outside of Philadelphia, who convinced him to return with her to the United States in the early 1990s after they had a daughter together.

In Philadelphia, he found work as a waiter at the city’s first ever Mexican restaurant, Tequilas. He worked there for a little over a year, then bounced around working at The Palm at the Bellevue Hotel and Maravillas.

Then, in 1999, Sauri decided to go out on his own and opened Tamarindos in a shopping mall in Blue Bell, PA. 3 years ago, he moved the place to its current location in an independent building in Flourtown.

Originally the restaurant was focused more on traditional Mexican offerings, but as the times have changed, with more restaurants offering more complex menus, Sauri has been creating increasingly elaborate dishes.

“We offer clients what they want,” explained Sauri. “We offer the traditional mixed in with the contemporary mixed with upcoming trends. Traditional lines of cuisine have broken. There is now more fusion.”

However, Tamarindos is about more than just the food. They also offer free margaritas, host private parties and bring in a guitarist on Fridays and Saturdays. They are BYOB and plan to add a special drink in honor of their 20th birthday next year. The food is also excellent.

To learn more about Tamarindos check out their website www.tamarindosrestaurant.com, their Facebook @TamarindosMexicanRestaurant or their Instagram @tamarindosrestaurant. Address: 726 Bethlehem Pike Flourtown, PA, 19031. Hours: Lunch: Tuesday - Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner: Tuesday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Prices: $17 - $35.

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