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Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe, new Colombian place in Port Chester

After my wonderful pupusa meal at Rinconcito Migueleno, I drove down Broad street and noticed this new place. At least I'm pretty sure it's new. I stopped in to check out the inside. This place seems really, really promising. It's a cute, clean, homey little cafe with a definite Colombian spin. Frankly, its the kind of coffee and breakfast place you'd find on the Upper West Side, but with a latin influence.

This is on the corner of Broad and Irving, directly across from the train station. Any PC commuter would see this every day as they leave the main parking lot.

It seems this place is mostly geared for breakfast and lunch, but they are open for dinners too. I had just eaten so didn't try anything, but they seem to have a lot of American style breakfasts, mixed with a lot of traditional Colombian food too - arepas, etc. This place definitely warrants a return visit.

Has anyone been? I'd recommend someone check it out - the owners seemed very nice and the place couldn't have been more inviting...

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  1. My family tried Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe, in Port Chester, NY for the first time last night. It was WONDERFUL! Each of us had a perfect dinner.

    The arepa menu offers different types of toppings. All begin with the white cornmeal arepas, grilled to order. They were flavorful and light (not fried) and finished with dusting of quesa white cheese melted on top. We tried the steak arepa, and chicken & mushroom arepa.

    The arepa dish with steak, called Bethania, was a tender flank steak, beautifully grilled and sliced, served next to a mound of delicious freshly made guacamole. It came with a nice salad of tender mixed greens on the side. A good portion for $10, that left you nicely satisfied.

    The Jerusalem arepa with chicken and mushroom, also $10, was generous and equally delicious. The sliced chicken was so tender sauted with mushrooms, glazed with a very iight touch of cream. It was also served with salad.

    To drink, we had tasty tropical fruit blends. $3 buys you a drink you could share.

    I wish that I had asked the owner her name. She was genuinely warm and pleasant, but without being intrusive. She and her niece decorated the restaurant in a charming way. Kind of like a Nantucket cafe with a latin flair. She puts a lot of extra effort to make a nice it a nice dining experience. The food is served on decorative dishes, not disposables. And her muffins are homemade, not from Costco.

    Among all of the terrific little latin restaurants in Port Chester, this place is unique. Her restaurant should succeed for a lot of reasons. She is giving you delicious well made food, prepared fresh, at a great value - especially when we are all watching our pennies. And, the atmosphere couldn't be more inviting.

    This is my first time writing on chowhound. I have no connection to this restaurant. But I am a serious foodie, always on the hunt for the best cheap eats in the area. I'll be going back to this place soon.

    For those of you ready to try:
    Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe
    32 Broad Street
    Port Chester, NY 10573
    (914) 305 1060

    Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe
    32 Broad St, Port Chester, NY 10573

    5 Replies
    1. re: Unda

      Sounds great. Sadly, I just about found the other places Adamclyde talks about, now I have to figure out where Broad St. is. A left at Westchester Ave., I imagine?

      1. re: dolores

        Here is a map of the place. Its located exactly across the street from the Port Chester train stationhouse. have a good time!

        1. re: Unda

          I can't agree with the sentiments above any more, but I really wish more people new about this wonderful place. I worry that business is slow, but only if the word got out more. I have shown up on several occasions when the door was locked, lights off, kitchen cleaned and put away. I peaked in waved and walked away, figuring I would stop by later that week.

          But the kind proprietor would have none of it. She runs out, forces me in. Opens the kitchen, jumps behind the stove herself and prepares me dinner. I constantly urge her not to do so, but in the back of my mind know how much they can use the extra order. She never for once makes it feel like a chore... just a genuinely great person. There is a certain warmth inside of this place that makes me want to do more for them. On nights like the one above, I leave a 10 dollar tip for her efforts... and feel like I still cheated the place.

          I urge everyone to stop by and enjoy... its great food, but even better people

      2. re: Unda

        I just got back from South Florida and had a taste of my husband's arepa and have now been craving one of my own and turned to chowhound. How fortuitous that you guys JUST reviewed this place - and even better that I will be drivign right past there later today. hopefully the kids (who have a snow day today) will be kind enough to let me stop and sample! any recommendations on which arepa to get?

        1. re: KarenNYC

          A characteristic Mrs. Sean question: Don't suppose they have a liquor license of any kind?? I do like a beer with my arepas...

      3. Once again, thank you Adam for bringing this place to light - and Unda for your review. We went to Aqui last night for dinner, it was around 8pm and we were literally the only customers there. The place was, as you've all noted, very clean, very bright - all the colorful hand drawings on the menu and wall plaques, came across as happy and cheery.

        I had the Bethania, which was excellent - the steak was flavorful, tender, cooked medium as I'd requested, the guacamole was great alongside the arepa which I was trying for the first time. My wife had the Lot - grilled chicken, a salad, guacamole, and fried plantains with queso sprinkled on top, and loved it as well.

        To answer Mrs. Sean, I didn't see any alcohol on the menu - and judging by the bible verses written in Spanish all over the place, it's probably not because they are waiting on a license. The fruit drinks, though, made up entirely for the beer I'd normally accompany such a meal with. We had the papaya and mango "juice", which were prepared with milk and tasted just like milkshakes.

        So, definitely recommend the place, we can't wait to try it out for breakfast or lunch!

        1. GF and I had our V-Day dinner there last night. Run into a CH lurker as well ;>D
          Very good as reported elswhere here.
          A few things not reported:
          Ask about specials-NOT everything is on menu.
          Check out wall menu.
          One can "make-up" /"build" /customize own dishes.
          Save room the her home made desserts-Choc. cupcake muffin out of this world. Jello dish was good and lite-even with some heavy cream in it. Flan looked very good.
          Yes-just about everything we asked about is made right there.
          And yes, owner is a very nice lady. Even introduced us to her son when he walked in.
          Did not ask about liquor license but I do have to agree with prior poster: Does not seem to be type of place for one, owner may not be looking for one and the fuit drinks are very good. As is the coffee.

          Did ask about business: Owner told us that it can be a toss-up between breakfast and lunch. Dinner maybe slow time for her. Did not take good look a hours but I think she is only open until 8:00PM or so most nights and closes early on Weds.

          When we left took a look around the block and saw few other places to check out at some time including a rather small (it maybe smaller than this place) chicken joint around the corner.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Jon1856

            Do they take reservations? Do you need reservations? sounds like a great place!

            1. re: PJPasta

              Not a very big place and as posted here, dinner does not seem to be all that busy at the monent. I guess it would never hurt to call and ask her. Exp if a larger party.

              1. re: PJPasta

                yeah, this definitely doesn't seem like a reservation kind of place. Very small, very local.

                1. re: adamclyde

                  We are trying this place on Friday...will get back to you and let you know how it goes!!!

            2. Went back again today for an early dinner - had the special, steak with tomato and onions and an egg, with rice and a salad. The food was good, my wife's arepas were great. My steak was well done instead of medium, though.

              Any chance adam you stopped by here today, around 5pm or so? We were the only ones in there, and a guy walked in that seemed to know everything that was happening with every port chester food joint, speaking with the owner's son who was manning the register.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ninnikuramen

                nope., not me. I haven't gone back to this place but need to. Maybe some day for lunch soon.

                glad to hear the food is good.

              2. GR and I went back tonight for dinner. Both the owner and her 15 year old son (presents himself as if he is at least 5 years older/wiser) greeted us both as famlily-remembered us from 1st visit.
                We had the specials-Steak w/egg and fish. Both were very good.
                Minor improvement to their choc muffin-now serve it warm in1/4's with ice cream. GF just about would not let me touch it, let alone look at it. ;>D
                P.S.: Ran into two CH lurkers there.

                1. Aqui is Santa Fe- Aqui is muy deliciouso!

                  We went for lunch at Aqui is Santa Fe on a Wednesday afternoon. It was my 10
                  year old daughter, her friend, and myself.

                  The Place- Aqui Es Santa Fe is located on the corner of Broad Street and Irving
                  Avenue, right across from the Port Chester Train Station. It charmingly
                  decorated with warm colors, and lots of forethought. You definitely got a taste
                  of the owner religious background- she makes it abundantly clear, but she doesn
                  push it at you. The tables are charmingly painted- we had fun translating the
                  texts and verses on each table. Walking in, we immediately felt comfortable,
                  even the girls, who are not always so pento trying new places.

                  The Service- There was only one person in the place when we went in- the cook
                  and server. He greeted us happily, told us the specials immediately, seated us
                  graciously, and asked if we had any questions. We had a few, namely the
                  differences between the fresh fruit juice drinks that they make- and the girls
                  decided on strawberry banana, and I had coffee.

                  The Food- The juice drinks arrived, frothy and lovely in tall glasses. The girls
                  sipped cautiously, and then drank away. It was a different taste than they were
                  used to, they agreed, but delicious none the less. Next time, my daughter chimed
                  in, she wanted one made with milk. This one was made with water. My coffee was
                  hot and strong, just the way I like it, and served in a BIG MUG- exactly what I
                  needed. . (I do tend to be annoyed with the teeny little 6 -8 ounce cups of
                  coffee that constantly need refilling).Aqui Es Santa Fe used lovely china, too,
                  kind of the type I use in my own kitchen at home I chose breakfast, although it
                  was really late brunch time- scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and bacon, with
                  fried plantain arepas, and the girls ordered the chicken lunch special chicken
                  with salad and fried plantains. First they had a yummy smelling bowl of soup
                  placed in front of them. They were not too sure of the ground chicken and bean
                  soup, but they tried it, and one loved it, one liked it. I tasted it, and it was
                  as good as it smelled- rich broth with ground chicken (a different texture than
                  I had expected, but it worked) and kidney beans. My only complaint about the
                  soup was that it could have been a bit hotter, but it was still a great starter.
                  Next came our main courses- My plate came was filled hot, steamy eggs peppered
                  with tomatoes, onions and bacon, and smashed, fried plantain arapas with queso
                  blanco (a mild white cheese) melted on top. The eggs were perfectly cooked- (I
                  hate runny eggs) and the bacon was salty enough to stop me from adding more. My
                  plantains were crunchy on the outside, and sweet and soft on the inside. I let
                  each girl have a taste, and poof- they were gone. So much for sharing.

                  Their chicken was chicken, the leg and thigh portion, with salad and a few
                  plantains on the side. Of course, the first thing they tasted was the plantains,
                  (me, too- I got them back for stealing mine) and although one preferred my
                  crispy plantains so we switched, the rest of them were polished off. They were
                  just crispy enough on the outside to contract nicely with the creaminess of the
                  inside. The chicken seemed moist and tasty and the salad was a typical side
                  salad of greens and tomatoes. My daughter didn care for the lemony dressing, but
                  the other girl ate it all up!

                  Family Friendly- I didn see a high chair in place, but I could certainly see
                  Aqui Es Santa Fe half filled with kids happily munching away, especially at
                  breakfast. I hear (I haven tasted them yet, but word is getting out) that the
                  muffin are to die for- home made and delicious- Il have to try one next time.
                  Being there was kinda the same feeling you get while at a friends house having
                  lunch- comforting, homey, and welcoming.

                  The Price- Lunch for the 3 of us was exactly $30. Definitely affordable.

                  Overall- Aqui Es Santa Fe is surely going to become one of the jewels of the
                  Village. Ie been there once before for lunch- and enjoyed just as much as today.
                  The owner son, Carols came in as we were finished up, and he chatted with us as
                  he bustled about setting things in place. He was attentive to the other
                  customers, knowledgeable about the many questions I put to him about the juices
                  and menu selection. He noted that they strive to serve a healthy menu, with the
                  freshest of foods. Maybe that explains the lack of diet soda? The only real
                  minus I could see from my visits was the lack of diet soda. I heard 4 people ask
                  for it during our meal. Give this place a try for wonderful Columbian arapas.-
                  You will not be sorry.


                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Wendyd.

                    The way I look at it Wendyd, if you want a diet drink, drink water. That is what my GF and I both had (along with the juice the first time we went). Works just find ;>P

                    And the choc muffin is a sin.
                    BTB-Owners son is all of 15. Handles himself very well.

                    1. re: Jon1856

                      I'll agree, Jon- EXCEPT, they do sell other types of soda- as for me, I had coffee, (it was great!) and the kids had juice. HOWEVER, I have sugar issues, and reg soda or even the juices aren't a good option for me, I need to save my sugar values for that INCREDIBLE chocolate muffin. It was, indeed, amazing!
                      Agree about the son- he said he was in the process of making a web page for the site! It'll be great to have one up.


                      1. re: Wendyd.

                        If you have sugar issues, BTB I came close to that myself, do not even have the juice. GF and I both re-thought that after our first visit. Now just a matter of cal. Rather save cals for good food.
                        And from what I have learned, even diet sodas are not the best drinks to have.
                        People have just been "sold" on them as being healthy.

                        And the coffee is very good-should have asked what kind they use. Even decaf was good!

                        1. re: Jon1856

                          Agreed- I usually do drink either water or wine..lol if you're gonan drink, then DRINk..:) The coffee was excellent!


                          1. re: Wendyd.

                            IIRC someone posted that this is a BYOB place. So if one wants to, first check and bring their own.

                            1. re: Jon1856

                              We had the wonderful pleasure of eating here -- we had the bisctec arepa and one with mushrooms and chicken. Large portions, great food, nice friendly service. We will definitely be back!

                              1. re: RawTunaFan

                                My gang has been back to Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe a half dozen times now, and I have to say, its been consistently great. We frequent many of the gems in Port Chester, but this place has become our favorite by a mile. Here's why... Its the type of meal you'd expect from a trendy place in Rye or Greenwich for double the price, or more. Expect no pretense here. This restaurant is charming, and the owner sets a cheerful tone. This place stands out because the food quality is excellent; always fresh, and deliciously prepared. The Colombian menu is unique among other restaurants in the area. Generous portion served on pretty oversized plates. The restaurant is a good choice for the health-minded. This menu doesn't depend on a deep fryer. The food is light and flavorful, never saturated in oil or sauces.

                                The menu includes a nice array of breakfast and lunch items. We tend to order dinner dishes. The Bethania is probably their most popular dish. Flank steak, salad, and excellent guacamole, always made per order. The special grilled salmon—awesome!—was fresh, beautifully seasoned and perfectly flaky, served on mixed leaf, avocado & tomato salad, with fresh vinaigrette; The churasco (sp?) special was wonderful and came with steak, beans, rice, salad. There are several lovely chicken dishes. The must-haves are arepas, of course, and the delicious plantains. A lot of the dishes will be come with these options. And, we also enjoyed the juice blends. Passion fruit & guanabana, yummy!

                                The value is incredible. For those on a budget, you can easily eat for under $10 a person! Gotta make the trip to Port Chester folks. We need them to stay.

                                Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe
                                (Across from the Post Chester Train Station Parking)
                                32 Broad Street, Port Chester, NY 10573

                                1. re: Unda

                                  Other than arepas and plantains, the food doesn't sound very Colombian (nor the syntax of the name of the place).

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    nah, it's very colombian. Just not the stereotypical divey colombian. While they do branch out a bit beyond the traditional, It's very colombian. From the empanadas to the arepas to the soups and the bandeja paisa special, etc.

                                    As for the name... I didn't think much about it the first time I went (thinking it was referring to a place). But the next time I realized the whole place is adorned in religious sayings and other memorabilia presumably reflecting the owners religious beliefs. Hence the name...

                                    1. re: adamclyde

                                      Thanks, Adam. Saludos from Cali to them next time you go.

                  2. Has any 'hound confirmed that the proprietor of Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe is OK with BYOB?
                    BTW, I highly recommend the bountiful lunch special plates and homemade soups.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: surman

                      I can confirm. Brought my own. Had a wonderful meal tonight. Will be back, many times. Can confirm everything Unda said, above.

                      1. re: CTeater

                        Finally got there today! The place was pretty empty at 3:00 on a Sunday but the welcome was warm, the food delicious, and the juices (with water for me) perfect for a hot afternoon. I'm not a chocolate person so I can't comment on the choc muffin, but the corn was terrific, dense and not too sweet. (I had intended to save it for breakfast tomorrow, but you know how that goes...) People need to support this place!

                    2. I went there tonight with my wife and enjoyed it immensely. Everything was very tasty and the cost was extremely reasonable. It seems a family runs the place and the son was our waiter. He was friendly explaining all the dishes and asking his mom for help when he was lost for a couple of explanations. The place was clean, very charming decor, from the menus behind the bar to the art on the tables.

                      You definitely want the fruit drinks. I had papaya with milk.

                      I definitely encourage everybody to come and try it. It's a real find and deserves regular patronage.

                      1. Do you think its the kind a place to hold a small party at? I am looking for a brunch/lunch place for about 15 to 20 people. would they hold that many people?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: nkmontero

                          IIRC-fire code notice indicated something like 47 total.
                          If I were you, I would take a trip there and ask the owner directly as well and eye balling it for yourself.

                          1. re: nkmontero

                            Yes, they do private parties. We were there once as as a party was ending. Looked festive.

                            1. re: Unda

                              Their back-room can/is used as a semi-private space for larger groups. IIRC fits about 25+/-.
                              If interested, ask owner/manager.

                          2. we just returned from dinner at Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe and we are now among the strong supporters of this jewel of a restaurant. The salmon special was delicious, perfectly cooked and incredibly flavorful, The Jerusalem arepa with tender chicken and mushrooms was delicious. We will be back (tomorrow night as a matter of fact) ... Please spread the word, this is a keeper and we will be back often.

                            1. Thanks to fellow Chowhounders, another enthusiastic supporter of Aqui Es Santa Fe - my husband and I had dinner there tonight. The restaurant was totally empty, but Olga (the owner) could not have been more gracious and welcoming (by the way, her son's name is Carlos, and her sister also works in the kitchen). We shared a platter of cheese empanadas and fried plantains with guacamole and a salsa, then had the Jerusalem platter and the Bethania platter. At $11 each they were filling entrees indeed, accompanied by the arepas, salad (mixed greens, grapes, dried cherries, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette) and guacamole. I had cappuchino, my husband the chocolate muffin with ice cream. Brought a bottle of wine - the corkage fee was $10. Total bill, including tax, was just over $50. Olga asked how we had heard about her, and I said that it was based upon the reviews on Chow hound that we had found her. Hopefully others seeking delicious Columbian food at extremely reasonable prices will find her as well! Olga, and her restaurant, are really a treasured find! And by the way, I noticed diet coke in the refrigerator in the back room.

                              1. Can anyone please comment if Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe is still serving up delicious dishes and living up to all the praise left in these replies? We would like to visit if everything is well. TY. Recent visits only please.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                  Does this place have vegetarian options??

                                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                                    Wanted to spread the word that my husband and I just had a wonderful breakfast at Aqui Es Santa Fe Cafe in Port Chester. We'd been once before for a very nice dinner, but enjoyed their breakfast even more.

                                    We each had the Sante Fe special - $7 for two eggs, two "toppings" with your choice of side (arepa, tostone, toast, croissant or muffin) and a hot beverage. Each of our eggs were delicious. I had mine scrambled with tomato and cheese along with arepas; my husband got scrambled with chorizo and mushroom with tostones. I also got one of their popular juice drinks with milk. It was called lolu - something I hadn't heard of before. Very refreshing. We learned as we were leaving that they make two types of muffins each day in house. We'll have to try next time.

                                    All and all an excellent meal, especially for the price. We're happy to have found a great go-to breakfast spot in Westchester after several unsuccessful attempts elsewhere!

                                    1. re: mla19

                                      I think you meant "Lulo" and I would have to agree that it's fantastic....tasted to me like the illegitimate child of a pineapple and a kiwi. I'm planning on looking for it in local markets and was advised that it's also called "Naranjilla" in Ecuador, so you may find it under that name.

                                  2. Is this place still open? Do they open on Sundays? I'm craving some Colombian and don't fee like driving to Queens. If there is any other good Colombian places closet to Yonkers, i'm open to other suggestions...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: petuniafromhell

                                      I was there a few months ago. If you want to make sure nothing has changed in the last few months, how about giving them a call?

                                      1. re: petuniafromhell

                                        I went there last week. Still open and still terrific. Don't know about Sundays.

                                        1. re: Elisa515

                                          I went there 2 Sundays ago...yummy..and great prices!

                                          1. re: petuniafromhell

                                            Oh good, glad you finally got there!

                                            Such a nice, homey atmosphere.