By Catherine Dunwoody
El Santo, Spanish for “the saint”, was a masked legend of Mexican sports, a famous luchador (wrestler) and it is the two-year-old restaurant founder Alejandro Diaz’s childhood hero.
For Diaz, choosing Vancouver-born Chef Sam Fabbro to helm his New Westminster restaurant’s kitchen made good sense. When it came to creating a menu that focused on the freshest seasonal West Coast ingredients available with a traditional, Mexican slant – Fabbro gets it.
While still in high school, Sam hopped on a work experience opportunity at Cobre in Vancouver’s Gastown, then known for its real-deal Latino cuisine. After landing stints at Raincity in English Bay and Cin Cin; El Santo is where you’ll find him now.
Always inspired by Mexican cooking, Fabbro spent time in Jalisco, Mexico to immerse myself in the food and culture, and brought some authentic ideas back to El Santo.
“My dishes are always changing and that is just a characteristic of my cooking. The El Santo huevo is a popular dish,” he says. “We take on the Scotch egg but instead use a lot of Mexican flavours. We wrap our egg in a housemade chorizo and make a batter of masa harina.”
If that isn’t enough to make you say ‘uno mas por favour’ consider the Pescado Veracruzana. “It combines Spanish influenced Mexican cooking with local BC seafood. It is a dish that incorporates a pan-seared rockfish, chilis, capers, olives and roasted tomatoes, served with our housemade herb-infused rice.”
With a seasonally changing menu using locally sourced ingredients, expect some surprises each time you visit. That, and a great list of tequilas and mezcals, plus a cool room you’ll want to hang out in – muchas gracias Chef Sam and El Santo.