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Jun 10, 2007 08:39 AM

Finally did the Sabor thing ...

Not much to add to the previous threads, so this will be brief:

-- Excellent tacos ... between the three of us, I tried asada, chorizo, carnitas and pollo inside and chorizo and pastor outside. (Inside are the tacos they have every night, outside is a "taco table" Friday and Saturday only. Inside: 1.95, Outside: 1.00. Inside: Larger, fresh tortillas, Outside: Smaller, factory tortillas. No pastor inside.)

-- Wife had that squash blossom quesadilla: Loved it. That's the deep fried q. Son had the pollo quesadilla: Loved it. That's the "traditional" q, though the owner explained that it's only traditional here, in Mexico City, the deep fried style is traditional. Go figure.

The menu such that you'll want to go back and try something new every time. In other words, every meal could include a taco or two that you know you'll like for a reasonable price and that leaves room for a burrito or quesadilla or something new to try.

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  1. I have to add my own report here: was down in LA for work, and was delighted to discover that Sabor a Mexico is very close to the west side hotel that is my usual base on work trips...Wish I had discovered this Friday night, when a late night snack of some tacos from the outside taquero would have hit the spot, but was able to sneak out of a meeting to head there for lunch Saturday...

    The chilaquiles verdes were calling my name. First taste, I thought they were as good as I've had in California....with great rice and beans, a Senorial, and delicious homemade tortillas, a wonderful brunch. These were very good chilaquiles, although I must say that by the end the sauce started to become a bit cloying.

    I ordered the quesadillas with grilled chicken on top: the chicken was unecessary in my opinion (I am a bit of a purist when it comes to chilaquiles). It was tasty chicken, however, nicely grilled, not overcooked. A hint: since breakfast is served all day if you want chilaquiles it might be best to order from the breakfast menu since they are a dollar or two less on that menu. Just ask for them without eggs if you are a purist like me.

    By the way, since I've seen reports of disorganized service, just wanted to mention that service was quick, effecient and friendly. At noon on Saturday there was a steady stream of customers but it wasn't packed. Parking was a breeze in their own lot right next door, and the outdoor tables on the patio were very pleasant.
    Next time I might try the caldo de res, which also tempted...With a salsa bar as great as the one at Sabor a Mexico, and those lovely homemade tortillas, the caldo almost has to be great!

    But the real reason I was there was for the quesadillas: I had seen previous mention of the quesadillas 'estilo DF'. The quesadillas I ate from a street vendor by my house are the fondest memory of the year I lived in DF....So, I had to try these; and ordered mine con queso. I waited till I finished the rest of my lunch to order it: I wanted no distractions, and wanted to make sure I ate it while still hot and very fresh...

    When I ordered it, the nice guy behind the counter asked me if I knew it was 'sort of like an empanada, not like most quesadillas you get around here'. Oh yeah.

    I watched the cook take a handful of masa, form it with a press, and make the quesadilla. Just seeing that masa was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

    Quickly, I had my quesadilla, and took a bite. It was deep fried, and just a bit oily, which was the only thing that kept it from being perfect. I recall the quesadillas of my dreams and my youth as being griddled (though my sister claims they might have been fried)...but regardless, the taste and texture of the masa and the cheese was otherwise spot on and transported me to some very happy chow times. Janet, you have to try this one...

    Will I be back? Oh yeah. Only every time I come to LA.....Thank you so much LA Chowhounds, and especially Dommy, for finding this place and taking me back almost forty years in just one bite!

    Post where Janet and I discuss those DF quesadillas:

    Sabor a Mexico
    8940 National Blvd. (Just south of the I-10/Santa Monica Fwy.
    )(310) 280-0380

    10 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      So happy to hear you both enjoyed it!! I do hope that the Sabor gang reads these posts and is inspired by how happy they make people. Opening up a restaurant is such a risk, and for them to DARE to make such a speciality (And to advertise Tripas in the 310!) really shows how much faith in their recipes they had... :)


      1. re: Dommy

        Me too, thanks Dommy, I love this place

      2. re: susancinsf

        OK, now I KNOW I have to go to LA soon!!

        BTW, I have to admit to being amused by Dommy's comment of about advertising Tripas in the 310....I assume 310 refers to the phone area code?? LA people are so funny about using numbers with a "the" in front (as in "I took the 5 to the I-10")...I guess they do that for area codes too...So what freeway exit is it near? (Is there an exit for National Blvd?)

        This might be one of those things worth driving to LA for...sort of like the Tommy Burgers of my college youth.....

        1. re: janetofreno

          Yeah... it's the one of the most 'desirable' area codes in the region. I think there was a famous line in Swingers where they deamed a girl a 'catch' because she had a 310 number... LOL!

          The closest exit is Robertson and then turn into national. It's right THERE under the freeway on an exit/enterance.

          Anyway, my college roommate from SF used to tease me CONSTANTLY about using "the" with highway numbers... I'd start giving directions to someone..

          "Get on the 15..."

          And she'd scream

          "Stop that!!"



          PS... I still love Tommy's Burgers! :D

          1. re: Dommy

            How about this:

            We say "the 310" and "the 10" for the freeway, but if we're heading to Beverly Hills we say "I'm heading over to 90210" not "the 90210."

            I forgot to mention that my wife had a tripe taco. Tripas = tripe, right? I didn't try it, not into the consistency, but she liked it a lot.

            1. re: Dommy

              oh yes, I can instantly tell whether someone is from the Southland by whether they put a 'the' in front of the highway numbers: I figured it is because people from LA view their freeways more affectionately than us Northerners... :-)

              although my daughter the transplanted LosAngeleno claims I have picked up this habit of speech ...If so, it is only because I secretly LOVE LA (well, actually I don't love LA, but I DO love the food down there! Don't tell anyone, but I am starting to think LA beats SF as a chow-destination, especially on the lower end of the price scale...shhhh....) :-)

              To keep this on food, and speaking of daughter, she and I got a chance to visit Pinkberry in Westwood while I took some time from work to visit with her this weekend as well...we weren't sure we were going to try it, but when a parking place opened up right in front, well, it was a sign, right? Unfortunately, neither of us were very impressed. What's the big deal?: it is just average tasting frozen yogurt and some toppings...

              being a member of the cell phone generation, daughter immediately called a friend to say that it was not what she had hoped. Friend claimed we didn't order correctly, (I had regular with mango, J had green tea with kiwi) since one must have one each of savory, sweet and crunchy toppings...whatever....(but do they really have savory toppings? Maybe friend meant fruit?)...

              Pinkberry struck me as the other side of LA that we from SF find easier to mock... :-)

              1. re: susancinsf

                Feel free to mock Pinkberry all you want.

                Just don't start in with the Mission burritos ... :) ... those are fightin' words.

          2. re: susancinsf

            just had to add an update that my daughter just moved to the west side, and now lives very, very close to Sabor a Mexico. Yeah! However, despite my oath that I would make it an every trip visit, I actually was in LA, passing through, for a bit last weekend, and made it to daughter's place and not Sabor. I know they had a fire in the dining room area fairly recently, but I assume the kitchen is still putting out those quesadillas? Can anyone confirm? I plan to head there on my next trip, in October, and with daughter in tow so she can get to know one of the highlights of her new area code... :-)

            1. re: susancinsf

              Nothing touched the kitchen; the indoor dining is two doors down from the main restaurant/kitchen. I was just there a couple days ago and the "Sabor" sign (well, piece of paper) was back up on the door for the indoor dining, so looks like they've got that fixed back up.

              1. re: slacker

                thanks for the update slacker....I had some quesadillas estilo DF here in SF the other night, and they were good, but still paled in comparison to those at Sabor a Mexico. Looking forward to October!

          3. At Sabor do you order at the counter, or is it a sit down place?

            21 Replies
            1. re: MrShoop

              counter, then you can either wait or sit down and have them bring it. Service c an be spotty, yet sincere.

              1. re: Diana

                They didn't bring us a thing. They called our number. Which is sort of inconvenient, because in the dining room with the TV, you can't hear the numbers they call.

                So, we hung by the counter and by the taco table until the food was ready. They even said "We call your number."

                1. re: PaulF

                  Yeah, as she said, they are kinda spotty... when we went for dinner, they brought the food for us... for lunch, we needed to pick it up!

                  1. re: Dommy

                    The service is spotty, but earnest.

                    Like, the owner spend 10 minutes trying to find the Dodgers game for us, but we couldn't find it on Dish Network But he tried. Finally, we watched ESPN.

                    But the guy was nice ... I told him I got the recommendation from my jeans store -- I never mentioned Chowhound.

                    1. re: Dommy

                      I went for dinner and had to get my own food - no one was bringing anything out. What irritated me (I got a huarache inside and three tacos total from the taco table - they are pretty small) is that they write your order for the outside grill on a paper and you take it to the grillmaster. Fine. He gave me one taco, I told him I ordered two, but apparently, since he spoke no English (but nodded his head as if he understood when I said he could put my other taco on the same plate (I figured he was going to give me another plate for my second taco and not what actually happened - he thought I had only ordered one) so my first taco sat there getting cold for 10 minutes (while I was eating my Huarache). Hell, if it is WRITTEN down, is it so hard to know that I ordered two? Didn't he think it odd that I put my plate with a taco on it on the glass part of the grill and walked off??? So then, after eating half of my huarache (which like Susan said - the Verde sauce (way too much dumped on top) did become cloying) I got up to see what the problem was with getting my second taco. So, after a lot of hand gestures he gave me two al pastor tacos along with my VERY cold carne asada one. I told him I only ordered one AP (I went back after to order another asada one at the end of my meal so I could eat it warm). So he took one back. At the time I was there, there were only about 5 other people there, so I cannot say that they were busy in the least.

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        the service is notoriously bad. They don't seem to know how to cook several things at once. The owners have said they are "working on it" for months.

                        1. re: Diana

                          personally, I would rather take items one at a time and have them fresh off the grill, than wait for all items to do be done. I would have eaten that one carne asada when it was ready, then asked where the AP one was....sort of like how I would eat sushi. It may be that the freshness off of the griddle or grill is one reason it tastes so good...

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            you're gonna wait a while, then. the grill and kitchen in most places are designed to cook several things at once. True skill as a pro chef is being able to cook several dishes at a time and have them finish at around the same time and be fresh and perfect.

                            The sabor guys waste time and grill space, as they seem not to know how to do this. A take out order can take forever there, and by the time the last item is done, the first is beyond it's prime, and will be worse when you get home. To sit there and wait for your items is crazy.
                            But the food is SOOOOOOO good!

                        2. re: WildSwede

                          It sounds as though perhaps service is more of an issue when they have the outside grill going?

                          though my Spanish is quite good, I didn't need to use it when ordering for the written, is it possible his written English skills weren't all that great either?

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            The inside people (I am 99% certain they are the owners) have a great command of the English Language. However, the guy at the outside grill did not. Now, "1 Al Pastor & 1 Carne Asada" is the same in both languages, no?

                      2. re: PaulF

                        When I was there, they were taking stuff to people. Maybe the number is an attempt to organize better. Frankly, we waited by the sauce bar.

                        They'd do better if they could learn how to run the ktichen to cook several dishes/orders concurrently. It's a short order type of skill, or just a general restaraunt skill. When I was there, only one item, and I mean ONE was cooked at a time, on a hige grill/griddle, and it took forever.

                        The food is to die for though.

                        1. re: Diana

                          I think they are improving.

                          We got all our food at the same time, but waited until they called our number.

                          And all the tacos outside came at the same time.

                          On another issue, the outside tacos create an interesting dilemma.

                          I prefer some of the outside tacos (the pastor, prime example) and they are half the price (admittedly half the size) but they come on factory tortillas, warmed on the grill.

                          The inside tacos were just about as good, bigger and come on a fresh corn tortilla. A fresh corn tortilla is worth the extra 95 cents, imo. But, you can't get the pastor on the fresh corn tortilla.

                          It's an odd quirk. Not off putting, just a little odd.

                          The whole place is interesting, like the way the dining room is almost a different building. I love the auto repair sign that they never bothered to take down and the pair of junkyard dogs fenced in next door.

                          1. re: PaulF

                            I returned to the taco table friday night for a handful of pastor tacos and one asada. After a couple of drinks up at the Getty, these tacos perfectly hit the spot. The salsa verde out on the table is wonderful.
                            It's really an enjoyable experience from a food and people point of view.

                          2. re: Diana

                            When I was there, there were at least two cooks, and they were cooking different items. As I mentioned, service was fine. I did hang out by the salsa bar waiting, however, and am not sure how I would have heard my order being called from the other dining room...

                            1. re: Diana

                              so what's good here? or rather great. also, is it related to a sabor that used to be on pico (near valentino's) i got a little lost in the thread?

                              1. re: kevin

                                no relation

                                Get the tacos, the veggie burrito, the queo fundido, the huarache. the traditional quesadilla

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    "Mexico City style handmade thick tortilla (long and oval shaped), filled with black refried beans and topped with roasted tomatillo sauce, onions, fresh cilantro and stewed cactus on the side."
                                    You can get original--no meat, or grilled steak or grilled chicken.

                                    I've been to Sabor many many times but still haven't tried this item, it looks good, though. Just about everything I've had there is great, but I did think that the chicken in the mole chicken enchiladas was way too dry, however that mole was excellent. Also love their horchata and tamarindo.

                                    1. re: slacker

                                      The huarache is good, but drowned in sauce. So much so that you can't taste anything else. Next time I'll be sacriligious and ask them to go easy on it.

                                      1. re: hrhboo

                                        I agree completely!! Or ask for it on the side.