Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Fairy Tale of El Bandido

El Bandido restaurant, what a wonder you were to behold.  Located in Spring Valley, NY, this little place has everything a Hangry Foodasaurus could dream of.  We had had some recommendations from our hotel (thank you so much!), but we never expected our experience to be so, well, magical!

We arrived.  We were seated.  We observed:

Tasty Mexican cuisine...check!
Fun and colorful ambience...check!
Kind and attentive service...check!
Price...well, it seemed a little expensive but here's why it was worth it:

We all ordered margaritas and I ordered tamales and my counterparts ordered enchiladas and a burrito.  

They served us chips and salsa.  Everything seemed to be going business as usual until low and behold they brought a cheese quesadilla appetizer with guacamole to our table.  We thought to ourselves...this can't be for us we didn't order an appetizer...hmmm....we gobbled it up quickly before they could take it away!  But, we realized that everyone was getting this appetizer as a part of the meal.  Pretty fantastic!

Then the main courses arrived.  The tamales were in house-made fluffy corn shells unlike I have ever eaten before.  Everything was awesome!  We thought it was over but then they brought us dessert!  We didn't even order dessert, it just came along with the program.  I can't exactly remember the details but it was some sort of crispy, cinnamon shell with bananas and ice cream.  It was just the perfect amount of dessert that your taste buds desire after dinner.

Then the real clincher--AFTER DINNER DRINKS!  Unsolicited, tasty after-dinner dessert shots.  Unbelievable!

We honestly couldn't have predicted that any of this would unfold like it did.  They so far exceeded our expectations that it is almost sad to go to any other Mexican restaurant now because it won't be as impressive.  

In any case, it was a fun way to end a lovely weekend of celebrations and it's always good to to open to happy surprises.  

As a side note:  I promised on my other blog to list the basic recipe we used when making tomatillo salsa.  We discovered that cumin and tomatillos makes that distinct Mexican food flavor--try it!  This recipe is a simple one from submitted by Kim Binning.  The only thing we changed was we sized everything down as we had less tomatillos + we added a spice blend with chile peppers + we added a small amount of an heirloom red sweet pepper instead of the serrano chile.


  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 serrano chile peppers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups water


  1. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper into a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth.