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Sabor’s tropical fare goes beyond Mexican

If you go

What: Sabor Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Where: 2907 45th St., Highland, just east of Kennedy Avenue.

Hours: It is open for decidedly “tiempo Latino” hours daily for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday.

Reservations: Accepted by calling 595-0102, but walk-ins are welcome.

Entertainment: Live music Fridays and Saturdays includes local groups like Say Yes, Terry Higgins, Mannix Martinez Salsa Band and the legendary local group Monterrey.

Menu prices

Appetizers, including our tostones rellenos and ceviche Dominicano, are $5.

Entrees begin at $7.50 with traditional chicken flautas, $9 for pork or $11 steak enchiladas. Ropa vieja is $12, carne asada is $13 and paella for two is $22.

Desserts, including flan de coco and guava cheesecake, are $4 to $5.

Beer is $2.75 to $4 for domestic, Mexican and other international brews. The predominantly Hispanic wine list features vintages from Argentina, Chile and Spain, with by-the-glass selections reasonably priced at $6 and by-the-bottle choices at $24.

Maps

Updated: February 21, 2012 8:15AM



From the time you enter Sabor Restaurant & Tequila Bar in Highland, it feels like a different world.

The infectious rhythms of salsa permeate the atmosphere. A giant, wall-size Mexican mural is painted on corrugated steel and other brightly colored paintings by Hispanic artists decorate the walls.

It bills itself as a Nuevo Latino restaurant featuring Hispanic foods from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, not only Mexico, but Puerto Rico, Spain, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Many of the dishes offered may be unfamiliar to Northwest Indiana residents, even those who regularly dine in Mexican eateries.

Sabor, which means “flavor” in Spanish, makes choosing appetizers difficult because they have nearly 15. But buying them is easy. Surprisingly, all of the starters on the tapas listing are $5. From a listing that includes pupusas (Salvadoran corn cakes stuffed with cheese and winter squash), pastellios (fried meat turnovers) and Spanish-accented patatas bravas (roasted potatoes in a piquant tomato sauce), we chose the tostones rellenos and the ceviche Dominicano.

The tostones — “toasted,” in Spanish — are a popular side dish in the Caribbean and Central America. Sabor’s tostones consist of two deep-fried and stuffed plaintain (an unripened cousin of bananas) cups artfully served on a strip of banana leaf. One was filled with ropa vieja, Cuban-style shredded beef in a tomato sauce, while the other featured sofrito shrimp, a Puerto Rican specialty that includes chopped shrimp with herbs like cilantro, peppers, onions and garlic. Both were really tasty, a delight for the eyes and the tongue.

The ceviche Dominicano is shrimp marinated in lime juice, sliced and served in a cocktail cup with onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro and accompanied by corn and plaintain chips. It was delicious and refreshing.

The entrees menu includes flautas, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, carne asada and tacos, all of which we love. But we bypassed the traditional Mexican options to try a few things harder to find in our region.

My wife chose the Colombian bandeja con pollo, which consisted of generous portions of grilled chicken breast accompanied by marinated red onions and served with red beans and rice, and maduros, deep-fried sweet plantains. The maduras were our favorites. And we also appreciated the marinated pink onions, which have a distinctive flavor and beautiful rosy color. The chicken itself was a let-down. It was tender and juicy, but surprisingly bland. The dish’s description and almost everything else we sampled was intensely flavorful. There was nothing wrong with it that a few spices or a little sauce couldn’t improve, though.

I ordered Sabor’s paella, a version of Spain’s national dish, which is a saffron-scented rice dish that can include chicken, seafood or both. Sabor’s paella, which serves two, includes chicken, mussels and shrimp, red pepper and peas. The saffron infuses the rice with a gorgeous yellow color. The seafood was generously sprinkled throughout the dish and the rice was still moist and delectable.

For dessert we opted for the tequila brownie and the guava cheesecake. The brownie was served warm and drizzled with a caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I couldn’t taste the tequila, but it was a tasty dessert. The guava cheesecake was really splendid. Guava isn’t usually found outside of the tropics, so it was fun to sample the cheesecake, which was topped by the lovely pink guava sauce, sweet and cool. Que sabroso!



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