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Dec 5, 2007 11:40 AM

Sabor Cubano - Phoenix

Things are looking up for those of us who have been craving homestyle Cuban food. Sabor Cubano Buffet has just opened on Camelback east of the I-17. I noticed the sign when I was driving to work a few days ago, and a coworker and I tried it today at lunchtime. All food is currently served buffet style (our server told us that her mama is the cook) and everything we tried was very tasty. She said that the items available will change somewhat from day to day, and on weekends there will be specials, "muy rica," possibly to include oxtail soup. Today there was rice with black beans, chicken in a saffron sauce, beef sauteed with onions, stewed pork riblets, another rice dish with what appeared to be tuna (didn't try that one), and a few other things including golf ball-size potato fritters with a meat stuffing. There were two soups, one a brothy but tasty split pea with ham, and chicken fideo. Also there were mysterious fried squiggly bits of something that my friend, who is from Latin America, decided was made of green plantains that had been run through a meat grinder. After we were full we realized there was a salad table that we had missed. A dessert table held a couple of uninspired-looking puddings and jello, which we skipped.

There was a large party from a nearby medical center, so we hope they will provide enough business to sustain this place. It is open for lunch and dinner until 8:00. We don't know if the food is the same at lunch and dinner but this question obviously calls for more research on our part.

Sabor Cubano Buffet
2030 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

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  1. Great find. This is definitely going on my list. Thanks for the tip.

    2 Replies
    1. re: silverbear

      Recently tried Havana Cafe on Bell Road and enjoyed many of the dishes...especially the generous portion of delicious ceviche!

      1. re: hopegoode

        Sabor Cubano is totally different from Havana -- this is more like food you would eat in someone's home, very casual and unpretentious.

        Just went back for lunch today, and my husband and I went on Saturday. It's a much better deal on weekdays, at $8.49; the weekend price is $11.49 for the buffet with no appreciable upgrade in the food. They told us that they plan to offer a menu on weekends from which customers can place individual orders; however, this isn't expected to happen until at least next month.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Just came back from lunch at Sabor Cubano, and the food was TERRIBLE.......

        Not only did it not taste Cuban at all, it was barely edible. It might have been
        good when they opened, but now the food is below mediocre. Very bland and no flavor.
        I could only eat a couple of items and that is because I was very hungry.
        Most items I left on plate.

        Havana Cafe is a much better choice. But if you are looking for authentic Cuban,
        again you will be disappointed. At least you will enjoy the food.

        4 Replies
        1. re: JimboPhx

          That's too bad. I heard from a friend who lives in Ahwatukee that a new Cuban cafe is supposed to open there soon. Let's hope for better results.

          1. re: kittyfood

            Sabor Cubano was pretty good. You have to realize the type of establishment that it is. Buffet will never compete with traditional type of served and individually prepared portions.

            Good luck.

            1. re: kittyfood

              Babloo's Cuban Cafe is open in Ahwatukee, way back there at Desert Foothills Parkway and Chandler Boulevard. Ate there Saturday. It's a cute place, but the food was "eh." I like Havana Cafe better, despite their ocassional lapses.
              The ropa viejo at Babaloo's didn't have enough spices, and the gazpacho, strangely, was a cold tomato soup with chopped veggies instead of all chopped veggies. It was OK, but I prefer the other type. I'll give it another shot once it's open longer. Service was pretty good and the owner was super nice -- he goes table-to-table checking on everyone.

              1. re: 1wino

                Sorry to sounds rude, but Gazpacho is a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup...There is not "other type"...I mean Gazpacho recipes can vary greatly in terms of ingredient composition, texture and viscosity. This usually depends on the geographical location as well as family traditions...but that doens't make it any less "Gazpacho " LOL Any how on to the topic at hand...I really like Sabor Cubano, typically i stray away from buffets but i did enjoy it here...Babaloos, Havana and Sabor have nothing in common except they all serve some variation of Cuban food. If you are look for a relatively inexpensive meal that’s good and hardy, go to Sabor, you won't be disappointed. If you want a more upscale style meal with a little more flare go to Babaloos...and if you want to eat at a place where there isn't a single Cuban in the kitchen go to Havana (sorry not a fan)!

          2. Just got back from lunch at Sabor Cubano. I liked it a lot.

            I would agree that the atmosphere isn't anything special, but the service made up for it (our waitress was very attentive, and clearly willing to do whatever it took to make us happy).

            The food was great. From reading other reviews, I expected the flavors to be muted and simple, but I found everything very flavorful, but not spicy at all (you could add your own hot sauce at the table if you wished).

            Some standouts on the steam table today included the black beans, and the fish (which was surprising to me, as this isn't something I would usually enjoy).

            Deserts were very pedestrian, nobody really cared for the rice pudding (which was way too sweet, and cinnamony for our palate).

            I thought the quality was very good for a buffet, and would recommend this place to anyone. These kind of ethnic places are great, and I was happy I could support a independent mom and pop (incidentally, the place was fairly busy, so that was nice to see).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Booger

              I'm glad to hear this. I haven't been there for awhile, but the place is near to my heart because it's the closest thing to homestyle Cuban food I've found in the Phoenix area. On my last visit, after not having been there for several months, the server (daughter of the cook) remembered me. The food definitely varies from one day to the next, but I have always been able to find something I liked.

            2. I actually like this place a lot more than Havana Cafe for homestyle Cuban food. My husband grew up in Miami so he is quite familiar with authentic Cuban food, and he really hated Havana Cafe and loved this place--not all of the buffet items are perfect, but we really enjoyed the fish, ropa vieja, and soup. Also, you can order excellent plantains, and I have not found better cafe cubano outside of Miami. And the flan is divine!!