Flavor of Dominican Republic in Washington Heights

September 27, 2013 3:12:45 PM PDT
This week in Neighborhood Eats, we're visiting a Dominican restaurant, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The restaurant has been a hit in one Manhattan neighborhood for nearly three decades.

It is a family affair, started by the owner Margot Santana 29 years ago, in her own community.

And it's still going strong, thanks to the Dominican pull. Margot Restaurant is located at 3822 Broadway in Washington Heights.

"Our family convinced her that maybe she should try and do something with her cooking," said Margot's son Carlos Segura.

A little coaxing from her family, including her son Carlos, and a plea from the community got Margot Santana cooking for people.

She started by making food for businesses in Washington Heights.

Then in 1984, she opened her own restaurant. It's been located on Broadway and 159th since 1989.

"It's basic Dominican food. It's food a lot of people weren't getting in this neighborhood," said Segura.

Unless they cooked it themselves. But why bother?

"It's great Dominican food, they have all the favorites, and it's real inexpensive and delicious," said one customer.

"The food is great, the best red beans in the neighborhood," said another.

And there are other staples: oxtail, or Sancocho, which is oxtail soup, fried pork chops, moro negro, baked chicken, and a fish and coconut dish that's more Margot's creation than truly Dominican.

She adds onions and peppers to coconut milk that's simmering, a little tomato sauce flavored with coriander, achiote adds flavor and color.

Then she seasons pieces of king fish with salt and pepper before adding them to the sauce to cook.

It's all served with rice and beans of course.

"I like the food here, the food is fresh, it's delicious," said a customer.

And that's a point of pride.

"To see my mother come from a simple factory worker an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and be able to grow her business here has been an inspiring story for many people here," said Carlos Segura.

Fish in Coconut Sauce from Margot Restaurant Ingredients:

3 filets (or steaks) of King Fish (you can use your favorite white fish)

2 cups coconut milk

1 onion sliced

½ red pepper sliced

½ green pepper sliced

¼ cup tomato sauce (mixed with sazon flavoring of coriander and achiote or annatto)




Season fish with salt and pepper

In large sauce pan heat the coconut milk until it's just starting to boil

Add onions and peppers, reduce heat slightly

Cook onions and peppers about 5 minutes until they begin to soften

Add tomato sauce mixture and stir

Bring heat up slightly and add fish

(fish should be covered by the sauce, if not, turn fish gently after 3 minutes)

Cook fish a total of 8 minutes over medium high heat

Serve with your favorite rice and beans

This serves 3 people