Sabor Latino (Ann Arbor, MI)

by John on June 12, 2009 · 11 comments

I’m always looking for good Mexican restaurants in my area, so I get pretty excited when I can find one that is both authentic, and well reviewed. This was the case for Sabor Latino, in Ann Arbor. Everything I had heard said it offered delicious, authentic Mexican, Colombian and Puerto Rican dishes for a very affordable price. Morale was high.

I’m a believer that it is fairly easy to make average Mexican food by throwing different peppers and spices together, but extremely difficult to make great Mexican food using fresh ingredients and family recipes.  It’s always disappointing to me when I come into a Mexican restaurant and see that their menu consists of unoriginal items like wet burritos, quesadillas and simple burritos.  This just happened to be the case for Sabor Latino.

As I saw down, this restaurant seemed to fit all of my criteria for a great Mexican joint.

  1. The salsa seemed to be freshly made, the chips were warm and there was no charge.
  2. The building was not free standing.
  3. Our chips and salsa were brought by someone other than our server.
  4. The menus were slightly dirty.
  5. No yellow cheese
  6. The walls seemed to have been painted several times
  7. There were several sombreros hanging from the wall
  8. The menu was up front and simple.

My hopes were extremely high.  Things began to go down hill from there.  The temperature outside that day was around 75 degrees, and as we walked in I realized that the restaurant was warmer than it was outside.

The chips and salsa were a good start.  The salsa was served in a small jug and tasted pretty good.  It was a little over pureed, but the taste was pretty good and spicy.   We decided to start with a bean and chorizo dip.  What we got was one of the saltiest things I have ever eaten in my life.  I know chorizo adds a lot of salt to any dish, but this was absolutely ridiculous.  We found ourselves pouring salsa on top of the dish to attempt to cut the saltiness.  Also, the chorizo was somehow ground and combined into a huge pile of refried beans.  I expected somewhat of a layered dip with chorizo and cheese, but instead we got this over salted pile of beans.  The worst part?  Our waitress abandoned our table for ten minutes, leaving us dying for refills on our drinks.  We couldn’t get get through half of the appetizer because of the saltiness.

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The menu was extremely limited, and I attempted to order from the specials menu which apparently is only available on Fridays.  I ended up settling on the fajitas with chicken, steak, and shrimp because the waitress said they were very good there.  I’m always very hesitant to order fajitas at restaurants because I like to think that my family has the best fajita recipe in the world.  My girlfriend, Stephanie, was more observant than I and saw that there was a daily special for chicken mole.  I was immediately jealous.

When my fajitas arrived, and I was extremely disappointed before even trying them.  The platter contained more large cuts of bell pepper than any of the meats.  The peppers were only slightly roasted, and a large amount of liquid had formed under the toppings.  The next thing I noticed was that in my small plate of fajita accessories, there was no sign of any cheese.  No cheese on fajitas?  I was assuming it was some sort of mistake, but found out when I asked for a small side of cheese that it was a dollar extra.  Party foul.  The fajitas were extremely bland, and when I finished the meat I was left with a heaping pile of peppers and onions.  Not impressive at all.

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Surely, the mole would be better.  Nope!  The shredded chicken was smothered in a mole sauce that had a little kick to it, but no real notable flavor.  I can’t even begin to write a detailed review because of the blandness of the taste.  You will have to settle for a picture of this one.  I will note that when I asked for some form of hot sauce or green salsa, the waitress gave me a confused look and stated there was none.

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We ended up leaving most of the food we ordered because of the heat in the restaurant, and the lack of any impressive food on our table.  I would have to say this is the second least impressive Mexican restaurant I have ever visited, aside from the always terrible Tios in Ypsilanti.  I’m not sure if it was simply the selection of food we chose, the lack of quality service, or the heat, but I left extremely frustrated and unhappy with the experience.  I tried to write this review as nicely as possible, but if you want normal ranting John’s opinion.. It sucked.   Terrible.  Don’t ever eat there.

Sabor Latino on Urbanspoon

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

wouldibuyitagain June 12, 2009 at 8:17 pm

That Chorizo/Bean Dip looks like some type of joke. My favorite taqueria in Indy doesn’t serve tacos with cheese, but otherwise it is almost a given that burritos, tacos and fajitas have cheese at Americanized Cheap Mexican joints. Dare I even ask what the price was here?!

Bear Silber June 13, 2009 at 5:24 am

WOW! What a disappointment….from the criteria I for sure thought this was going to be a great experience….sad to see food left on the table :(

Love Mexican Food June 15, 2009 at 8:42 am

I think Sabor Latino is overpriced and, while better than Tios/Pancheros/Chipotle/BTB, lacks quality.

Hands down the BEST Mexican food in the area can be found at La Fiesta Mexicana in Ypsilanti, which also opened a new location on Packard in Ann Arbor called Taqueria La Fiesta. Excellent food! Very authentic. Low prices, too.

John June 15, 2009 at 8:46 am

I was pretty impressed the last time I visited La Fiesta Mexicana. La Fuente is probably my favorite Mexican joint in the area.

~V~ June 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm

I went to a Mexican restaurant/Tequila bar about a week ago with a friend and I totally had that list you wrote up in my head, The one where you wrote the criteria for a good Mexican restaurant. Like a total dork I counted them off to my friend and I was sad when when the guy that gave us our menus was the guy that brought our chips, but rejoiced when he didn’t bring our food. And then when the food came I actually blurted out “omg look the cheese isn’t yellow!”

Jack Samano August 1, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I was agree with the comments above, but Sabor Latino changed ownership, I went there last week and almost everything was different, new staff, very attentive, nice atmosphere and decoration, very clean and the food just great and authentic. They even had handmade corn tortillas, a lot of options, including sea food, vegetarian and more salsas. I had Sopes, very rich flavor,awesome handmade dip fried tortilla cake with Mexican Chorizo. Delicious! prices were very low, specially to be on main street area. (8-12dls) for a full service restaurant!

Catherine August 31, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Wow, I’ve never had a bad experience at Sabor Latino and I’ve been going regularly for close to 3 years now. With the change in ownership I see they’ve added some new items to the menu which I’m excited to try (Shrimp al Diablo, for one). The salsa (red and green) has always been great and the tacos were always a go to item. Go back, give it another shot!

Andy November 12, 2009 at 3:43 pm

My wife and I just went there today for lunch and we were not impressed. Bland, bland, bland! Salsa had no kick, chicken in burrito was overcooked and spongy, and wheat tortilla was tough and overly chewy. Also “spicy pork” tamale was anything but spicy.

Very nice staff, but won’t bother to go back.

Craig November 17, 2009 at 9:57 am
Craig November 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Oops, meant to put that on the Tios post.

Sarah January 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

This place was recommended to us again and again by everyone whenever we pleaded for the name of an authenitc Mexican joint. I never understood the hype.

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