We have Sam to thank for recommending this amazing Mexican diner with us. Sam was our tour guide for both the Sandeman’s tours we took in Berlin – one for the free city tour and the other for the Potsdam tour. Sam is intelligent, friendly and funny and should you go on one of Sandeman’s very popular tours, I hope you have him as a tour guide. The Hubbs was initially hoping we would get the cute Aussie girl but I’m pretty sure he didn’t regret having Sam afterall too.
But I digress.
Back to The Amazing Mexican Diner. On the way back from Potsdam, Sam asked if we had needed any recommendations for dinner and we said yes. Next thing we knew, we had circled Santa Maria on the Sandeman’s map and made plans to have dinner there after a visit to the DDR museum.
Santa Maria is located in Kreuzberg, an area filled with restaurants, cafes and watering holes. The restaurant is approximately a ten-minute walk from the Moritzplatz station. We arrived at about 7.30pm and the restaurant was about half-filled.
The cooking station is right next to the entrance. Simple wooden tables and chairs surround the bar – the focal point of the cozy casual diner. Just above the bar, bulbs with vegetable box graters for lampshades drop from the ceiling. Behind, blackboards hang against the wall announcing the mainstays of Santa Maria’s menu. If you need WIFI access, the password is in plain view on the board at the counter.
Our food took a long time to be served, which wasn’t surprising given there were only two wait staff and one chef manning the entire diner (as lean as Oliv Cafe’s team). Nevertheless, service was earnest and attentive.
Margaritas were 4 euros each as it was Happy Hour. The Hubbs had a Hibiscus Mint Magarita made with lemon and lime juice, hibiscus, triple sec and tequila, served in a sugar-rimmed glass, to start the meal. I didn’t particularly enjoy it and neither did the Hubbs but we’re not big on alkie to begin with.
We jumped right into mains. I had a quesadilla stuffed with chicken (7 euros) and a side of guacamole (2 euros). The quesadilla made from homemade flour tortilla was grilled to a crisp on the outside and stuffed with braised tender juicy chicken breast. I could taste the tomatoes, chillies, garlic and red onion that the meat was probably stewed in. I also really loved the side of creamy yet refreshingly tangy guacamole.
The Hubbs had the chilaquiles (6 euros) made of homemade corn tortilla chips cooked in spicy red salsa. This came with a dollop of cold creme fraiche, sheep’s cheese, onion and a sunny-side up. This was again very delicious and satisfying. Some bits were still crunchy, but most of it was soaked in the flavours of the sauce, cheese and also eventually the runny yolk.
As you can see below, we were very happy campers who licked our plates clean.
I was so very pleased with the quality of the dishes that despite being pretty stuffed, convinced my tummy and the Hubbs to share a dessert. There were only two options on the menu and the quesadilla with banana and nutella filling (5.50 euros) spoke to me. This came with a Kahlua reduction, a topping of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of nuts. The flavours melded happily together and I was extremely glad we made space in our tummies for it.
We left Santa Maria fulfilled and very satiated. With such hearty good food and uber reasonable prices to boot, I can see us being regulars at Santa Maria… if only we lived in Berlin.
Mon-Sun: 12pm to 2am
U bhf Kottbusser Tor (U8 and U1)