Feeling Simpatico at San Miguel's
Author: Rebecca Edwards | Photographer: John Brackett
In Spanish, the word “simpatico” means friendly. At San Miguel’s at Shelter Cove Harbour, the word translates into a memorable waterfront dining experience with a staff that is all smiles and food that makes you equally happy.
“The staff makes this place insanely wonderful. Most of them have been here for forever,” said San Miguel’s owner Maryanne Laskowitz. “I think that’s one reason the food’s so good and the customers keep coming back year after year.”
Take the chef, for example. “We joke that Chef Melvin Fields graduated from the San Miguel’s school of cooking. He knows what we are about and what our food is about,” Laskowitz said.
In order to build camaraderie, Laskowitz explains that the staff members participate in local runs, paddle board together and often have brunch together.
Carrie Alberg, who has been serving up San Miguel’s signature margaritas for over 12 years, laughs from across the bar. “We do everything together,” she said. “I never feel like I’m coming to work. I feel like I’m on vacation with my friends and family.”
This sense of simpatico infuses every aspect of the restaurant. It is happiness you can taste. The moment you sit down, a basket of warm crisp tortilla chips and fresh guacamole welcome you at the table. Crunching on the salty-savory combination, you then take in the atmosphere.
Inside, a festive Mexican mural decorates the far left wall, and terra cotta tiles form a Spanish-inspired yellow brick road to the expansive bar that is full of jovial, elbow-propping patrons, including both local residents of and visitors to the island. Outside, plush semi-tropical plants, miniature Corona bottles serving as salt and pepper shakers, and nightly music bring back to mind that awesome time you had (or dreamed of having) in Mexico.
Next, you order a frosty, salt-rimmed margarita and try one of San Miguel’s staple dishes such as the fish taco made festive with green and red confetti-like pico de gallo, tangy chipotle mayonnaise and black bean and corn salsa. Your dinner date lets you sample his or her selection. It’s a sizzling fajita plate with warm flour tortillas that give a group hug to the tender grilled shrimp and medley of peppers and onions.
You finish it all off with the flan—a caramel glazed confection consisting of a smooth custard made with fresh eggs, milk, sugar, cream cheese and a touch of Kahlua. Your tummy is now simpatico, too.
Sitting back satiated you realize San Miguel’s recipe for success. Everyone is lighthearted, and you can’t help but be, too. This is what enjoying the flavors of life is all about.
“We always want people to enjoy themselves when they come to San Miguel’s,” Laskowitz said. “San Miguel’s has been an island mainstay since 1977, and we want to keep it that way.”
To do this, Laskowitz says she is constantly updating the menu to accommodate all dietary needs—from gluten-free to vegetarian—and keeping the San Miguel’s vibe as fresh as the food.