The first San Martín was founded in Guatemala in 1974 by Andrés Castillo. The family-owned and -operated business has since opened 41 more locations in Guatemala and nine in El Salvador. Andrés’ son, Gabriel Castillo, is the brand owner of the Uptown location and has been in North Texas since this summer, preparing for their December 2018 opening.
Gabriel’s son and daughter both attended Southern Methodist University, and since then, Gabriel knew Dallas would be a promising city for San Martín’s first U.S. location.
“When you expand a company, it takes a great effort, no matter where you expand,” Gabriel says. “But the reward is greater in the U.S. because it’s such a big market.”
The impressive 8,700-square-foot space previously housed The MAC art gallery. It's bright and open; there's a bakery and retail section to the left, seating in the central section and an open kitchen to the right. There are windows up to the high ceilings that bathe the dining area in natural light, and two walls in the main section are decorated with live ferns. It makes for an organic and airy dining experience.
“San Martín is a Latin concept,” Gabriel says. “Everything that we do is Latin or European. We have European recipes, like Italian and French food, and we specialize in European pastries and breads. We also have Latin breads.”
San Martín is open for breakfast and stays open through dinner.
For breakfast, Castillo recommends the Eggs Florentine, one of their signature dishes. They also offer the Dobladas Breakfast, a Guatemalan classic, with two corn tortillas stuffed with melted cheese, topped with eggs and ranchera sauce. This hearty choice is served with refried beans, plantains and a bread basket, filled with fresh baked pastries and rolls.
San Martín also offers items like omelets, chilaquiles, pancakes and French toast for breakfast.
The coffee is definitely a selling point.
“We acquired a roastery about six years ago, so everything that we serve is roasted by us,” Castillo says. “We buy the best beans available in Guatemala, directly from the farmers. We do a light roast profile because it brings the best flavors out of the coffee.”
For lunch or dinner, they have Latin staples as well as American classics. Try the frijoles al albañil, a Guatemalan black bean soup, the beef carpaccio, tostadas, the Hawaiian sandwich or the Shuco, a Guatemalan-style hot dog served with guacamole, repollo (white cabbage salad), mustard and mayo. San Martín also serves pastas, such as lasagna and Cobanera Diavalo, pizzas and burgers.
In addition to the full-service restaurant, they also have a retail bakery where you can order pastries, breads, cakes and other treats to go.
While the first U.S. location of San Martín has been open only for a month and a half, Castillo is pleased with the reception.
“It’s been amazing,” he says. “Our guests love the concept and food and bakery. It’s a different experience than what you see in regular bakeries here in the U.S.”
The Castillos have plans for two more locations of San Martín in DFW later this year.
“We try to incorporate a culture within our company," Gabriel says. "We strive to be the best versions of ourselves every day — we bring that in our crew members. We are looking forward to incorporating a different type of service than the regular restaurants here in the U.S.”
San Martin Bakery & Restaurant, 3120 McKinney Ave. (Uptown)