- Courtesy of François Bouchett
- Oscar Arencibia and Luis Calderin of Santiago’s Cuban Cuisine
Santiago's business partners Oscar Arencibia and Luis Calderin plan to open the first downtown location of their "Cuban tropical" restaurant at 3 Main Street in September. It takes over the original Madera's Restaurant and Cantina space in Main Street Landing's CornerStone building, which was most recently Himalaya Restaurant.
Arencibia founded Santiago's as a pop-up in early 2021. The partners operated out of what is now Butter Bar & Kitchen in Burlington's New North End for several months last year.
The expanded menu will offer traditional Cuban fare, including favorites from Santiago's previous pop-up iterations; more seafood; additional vegan and vegetarian options; and ropa vieja — the Cuban national dish. Dishes such as empanadas, croquetas and ceviche are designed to be shareable, "to let people experience and taste all of this stuff," Calderin told Seven Days.
Santiago's also plans to upgrade its popular Cubano sandwich. The restaurant is partnering with the oldest Cuban bread manufacturer in the country — La Segunda Central Bakery in Tampa, Fla. — on an exclusive contract. "We'll be the only place in Vermont that has the most authentic Cuban bread," Calderin said. "Two Cuban guys. It couldn't get more Cuban."
The bar will offer classic cocktails, sangrias, wine, beer, an extensive menu of zero-proof cocktails and a full-fledged rum program.
The roughly 90-seat space is currently undergoing a renovation; the decor and ambiance will be inspired by Miami's Art Deco hotels, and will make the most of its sweeping view of Lake Champlain — both inside and on the 100-seat patio.
"It's basically South Beach on Lake Champlain," Calderin said. "We want it to feel like Florida or Havana in 1959 — a vacation from your everyday here in Vermont, between the food and the art, culture, music and vibe of it."
Calderin and Arencibia are planning to offer lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, catering, takeout and delivery, along with drinks and late-night food until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
"We want to be open for people coming into town on the last train," Calderin said. "We want to be the first thing they smell and taste when they get to Burlington."