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Apr 28, 2007 04:38 PM

Sabor a Mexico

Just went here for the first time today. I got the plato de Chicken Tinga and the SO got...well...a "plated" vegetarian burrito. Don't ask, she's and odd bird. (And always wonders why what I got was so much better than hers) Anyway...

It's probably the best tinga, hell, one of the best Mexican chicken dishes I've ever had. The meat was very moist, perfectly seasoned, packed with flavor, with some good rice and beans (not transcendent). But that tinga...reason alone to come here. I could make a lunch out of 3 tacos de tinga. The "plated" burrito came strangely with asada on top, but the wait was so long we both said screw it and chowed down. The asada was dry and somewhat bland.

Here's the thing: The wait was way too long for what we got...okay okay i know it's not a taco stand but I was watching their entire operation. Didn't seem very organized and also didn't seem right to only have one cook working the line while there were so many people waiting. By the time we finished our food, the guy behind me hadn't even gotten his yet, and there were probably 4 other orders after him. I'm not a pushy customer and I'll gladly wait for quality food, but this was one instance where I just think the operation was a little disorganized. I never got my corn tortillas that come with my plate. When I went up to tell them, the counter guy said, "I'll bring them out to you". I saw a great heap of masa and a press right next to him, I almost wanted to offer to make them myself because as I suspected, they were never brought out. They were out of forks at their plasticware stand. In fact before I placed my order I saw a few people walking up and saying their order either wasn't right or was missing something.

All in all I'll be back (it's right up the street from Surfas, so a perfect lunch spot after spending my paycheck on useless kitchen crap that I'll never use) , but only during total off-peak hours, as in, hopefully I'm the only customer. It wasn't even what I would call busy today and they were having problems.

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  1. The above reminds me of our last experience at SAM. We were there (for our second time) about two weeks ago, I completely share what you wrote about the disorganization, at least the day I was there, we waited for extremelly long time, we didn't mind because the food was great, but like you we never got the tortillas that were supposed to come with our meal, our drinks came after we had finished our meal, we kept asking for them, and like you we were told like 3 times by the young man at the counter, "I'll bring them out to you."........well he never did!
    Our food came in batches, my DH ordered a huarache and after the long wait, it was served first, maybe 15 minutes later my DD torta was ready, then 15 minutes later my caldo de res was ready, but the tortillas never showed up, and by this time we were still waiting for our horchatas. Also the day we went, a Saturday at around 2:00 pm, they were not that busy, we were the only people sitting inside, one more party of two sitting outside, and a couple of people waiting inside by the counter. There were two ladies preparing food at their kitchen.
    We still go back, and we will be back, I really like Sabor a Mexico, the food is great, but those details sometimes take away from enjoying their great food.

    Anyway that day we had great Caldo de Res, the huarache was as good as the first time, torta was very good, we also ordered a queso fundido con chorizo to start, it came last, but still was very good.

    1. Alright, a little followup here...

      I went here yesterday at like 3 P.M. I was the only customer, so I ordered a taco de tinga, and a huarache de asada. It was all sublime, 10 out of 10. The huarache is this big fried tortilla with black beans, marinated skirt steak, smothered with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro. Goddamn they need that beer license quick!

      This place rocks...this is light years beyond Loteria, quite possibly the best Mexican I've had from a restaurant. There's a "Help Wanted" sign in front as well as a sign to the effect, "Homemade food takes longer, please be patient". They're getting their beer license soon. I talked to the counter guy for a long time and they're really doing something special here. P.S. the Jamaica was crazy good. I made it once at home with the dried hibsicus flowers. What you end up with is a concentrate that most places water down too much. The Jamaica here is really concentrated and intense, definitely the best I've had since I made it myself. So, that said, if you come here during peak hours, expect a wait and maybe a mishap or two. I still recommend coming during off-peak hours.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fooddude37

        I don't understand your desire for them to get a beer license. I order my food and stroll down the block to the liquor store and pick up a six pack for the price of what 2 beers will cost once they get their license. It's a win win situation. You get to kill some time and you save money.

      2. Is it close enough to Surfas that one can order, go do a little foodie shopping, and come back in time to get your food?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Diana

          No. I have been to Sabor A Mexico a few times and did not experience the delays and screwups described above. Our food was cooked to order so it took a few minutes but by the time you order and head over to Surfas, the order could be ready!

          1. re: Diana

            Absolultey, it's right across the street... just tell them you are leaving so they aren't looking for you when your order is up (They bring the food to your table... a nice touch. :D)


            1. re: Dommy

              They called my number when I went and I went to the counter to pick it up. The evening I was there I noted that everyone went to the counter to pick up their order as well.

              1. re: WildSwede

                Gosh, maybe it's a dinner thing then... Or they realized they need as many people behind in the Kitchen as possible... LOL! :D


                1. re: Dommy

                  I am not in line with those who thing SAM is better than Loteria. I have been to Loteria dozens of times, & although it is always crazy busy, they rarely (if ever) have gotten my order wrong, & the food is always hot & always good. My one experience at SAM was just ok. A friend & I went for dinner. I had the cheese enchiladas which is what I always have the first time I try a new Mexican place. The cheese inside was not melted - not even close. Nice flavor, beans & rice were good - but I won't be hot-footing it back. Friend's tacos (I think she had three different ones) were "dry".

                  I really dislike the music & the TV on at the same time in the adjoining dining room. We asked them to turn the sound off the TV (we were the only ones in there) & they seemed surprised we didn't want it on (I can watch TV at home). Also, I paid with a $50 bill. While we were eating the cashier came over & asked me to check my change because she thought she had returned the bill to me - she hadn't. Then she asked my friend to check her change (of course, she didn't have it either). I understand she was concerned, but it was rather disconcerting.

                  I think I'll stick with Loteria.

                  1. re: Dommy

                    I was there at 7pm on a Saturday and there were two people ahead of me and a family eating in the "dining room". There were several take-out orders after me, but just me, the family and one other couple who came after me eating there. Must be the fact that you are special, Dommy!! ;-)

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      Oh dear I thought it was just my bad luck Scleprock syndrome.
                      I have been there at lunch twice -once on a Tuesday, once on a Saturday. Saturday, we were the only people there for a least one half-hour and still did not have our food and when it eventually was ready, one dish at a time, our number was called for pick-up. No table service for us. It took 40 mins to get the first dish (a quesadilla). When the last dish-cheese enchiladas was "ready" after almost an hour-I sent it back twice because it was cold. We loved the food so hoping this is a temporary situation. The young woman cooking was a bit overwhelmed. I too wanted to step behind the counter and help out. Everyone is so nice, it is hard to get indignant, although some people who arrived after us on a busy Tuesday left before their food was ready as their lunch hour expired. I would make the trip from Hermosa again but doubt if I can persuade the SO. He'd rather have a chile relleno from Las Brisas on Artesia.

            2. I've been to this place twice and ordered tacos both times. The first time the al pastor was awesome, the asada so so and the chicken tinga quite good as well. All the tacos were packed with lots of meat. At $2 each you expect so.

              I went again yesterday and the al pastor was nothing like the first trip. There were maybe 3 little bits of pork in the taco. The tacos were tiny!

              i know their specialties are probably dishes and not tacos but I havn't been overwhelmed yet.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bandini

                Bandini, did you order tacos from the restaurant or from the Taco Tables (available Friday and Saturday nights)?

                1. re: Norm Man

                  from the restaurant

                  it was great the first time..the second time my al pastor taco literally had 3 little bits of pork in it and the tacos were tiny.

              2. Another update. I went here tonight at around 10:30 or so for their taco stand that they put out on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7. The *best* al pastor I've ever had. They've got the marinated pork on a spit, with the onion and pineapple on the spit. I had awesome lengua, which was in a steamer with some cabeza. Had tripas for the first time in my life (from a Mexican restaurant), and it was just perfect, (only other time I had tripe was at Tre Venezie in Pasadena, oddly) the tripas were simmering away in a rondeaux-style pan, with little cripsy bits here and there. There was a grill too, the menu advertises pollo and carne asada. Upon placing my order (2 de al pastor y 2 de lengua) I watched the taquero lightly oil 8 small tortillas, layer them, and gingerly place them on top of the meat which was sizzling away on the plancha, to soak up some meat juices for a minute or so before he plated them for me. Condiment bar had onion, cilantro, salsa roja, salsa verde, limes, radishes, and cucumber. The tacos were so good I went back for 2 more. I can't believe this place is 10 minutes from my apartment. I talked with Jon, (the owner) his whole family was there last night, he said they're trying to find a location for a sit down place so they can do something a little more refined. I guess all the recipes are his moms. This place is definitely a once-a-week spot for me. I also picked up an apple soda and a pastel de 3 leches per Jon's recommendation. It was good, light white cake with a layer of dulce de leche I think and some whipped cream, it tasted like the only thing it was sweetened with was honey, and it wasn't too sweet at all.

                Can you tell I like this place?

                5 Replies
                1. re: fooddude37

                  OK for a newwbie to Mexican and LA...I will go here but what are the must eats, I know tacos but thats about it!

                  am I right in this is the one near Culver City?

                  1. re: mary99

                    Try their quesadillas, and huaraches, just like the ones you will eat in Mexico.

                    1. re: mary99

                      Yes, near the corner of Venice and National, right by the freeway stop...


                    2. re: fooddude37

                      Is the spit-roasted pastor only available on the weekend? Went last night and it wasn't available...

                      1. re: vinosnob

                        Yes... the Spit is attached to the Taco Table... and the table is only available Fridays and Saturdays (I am not sure about Sundays)