While driving along Route 82 in Fishkill, you’d be hard-pressed not to notice the bright orange building that is Avocados Mexican-American Restaurant Bar. “The truth is we’re Mexican, and we love bright colors,” says owner Kriz Galicia of the festive paint job.
Said bright colors aren’t limited to the exterior. Inside, patrons find pink, orange, and yellow hues decorating the space, along with brick arches and a cozy fireplace. Galicia, who moved to the United States 18 years ago from Mexico City, says the inviting decor attracts many families. “We’re family oriented and family friendly,” he says. And it’s not just the colors that put smiles on kids’ faces. The extensive children’s menu strikes a good balance between Mexican staples, like quesadillas and tacos, and classic kid-pleasers like chicken fingers. Galicia notes that children really get a kick out of the tableside guacamole preparation, too. “It’s a whole new experience for them. Sometimes we even let them try making it themselves,” he says.
The family focus extends to the management: Galicia operates both the Fishkill location and its big sister, Avocado in Cornwall, with his wife and father. “Dad runs both kitchens. He’s been in the restaurant business forever, almost 40 years,” says the proud son. Since Galicia works on the floor, he doesn’t spend as much time in front of the stove as he’d like, but he lends a hand when he can. “I don’t do as much as I used to, but I am a cook and I enjoy it. Everything my mother always told me not to do, I get to do,” he jokes. “I get to play with food, and play with fire.”
Dad José — who was classically trained in Spain and also spent time in French, Mexican, and American kitchens — drew on those experiences when creating Avocados’ menu. The result? A mostly Mexican lineup with some multicultural twists. Bet you didn’t expect to see lobster crêpes in a Latin American restaurant. Or a chicken tortilla lasagna (the tortillas are layered in the casserole instead of pasta). Yet Galicia says both are menu staples. And while well-known Mexican fare like fajitas and enchiladas never go out of style, he and his father focus on lesser-known south-of-the-border creations. A case in point is the stuffed pineapple: a hollowed pineapple shell which is filled with clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp, and a very tropical tomato sauce. Another unique item, the avocado fries — breaded and fried avocado slices accompanied by a honey chipotle sauce — garnered one of our Best of Hudson Valley editors’ picks in last month’s issue.
When it comes to dessert, Galicia highlights their flans, caramel-covered egg custard desserts, as the big crowd-pleaser. “We make 12 to 15 per day,” he says. Patrons also clamor for the fruit taco (a sugar-coated shell with strawberries, mangoes, bananas, and chocolate syrup) and fried ice cream.
Upstairs, the restaurant has a private room for parties and events (besides conventional celebrations, Galicia says they sometimes host wedding ceremonies there). But by far the most fun happens in the 85-seat main dining room when a mariachi band performs. Decked out with trumpets and sombreros, the musicians bounce from table to table, entertaining diners with catchy tunes. “There are times when people get up and dance around,” says Galicia.