Pork, corn, mojitos, martinis? Sign me up.
We were very excited to see that Edgewater's Sabor Latin Bistro was opening another restaurant in Hawthorne, an area in desperate need of some new and interesting options. And we weren't the only ones: the place was doing quite a bar business on our first visit opening week, and the crowd at an early week follow-up trip suggested that the place is going to do well right out of the gate. Apparently people like mojitos.
They did a fair amount of renovations to transform the old Oakville into the new Sabor. Lots of bright colors and a vibe reminiscent of their Edgewater restaurant. There's wide-open space and sunlight floods the room through the large window.
Sabor bills itself as a Latino restaurant, drawing on many cultures. The food, while not strictly authentic or true to any one cuisine, is vibrant, flavorful, and down right fun. A few recent nibbles included the following:
Camarones al Ajillo Con Cachapas. This is a dish of 4 or 5 nice-sized shrimp over corncakes with a somewhat sweet garlic vinaigrette. A real winner.
Tamales. You get a pork tamale with a smoky spicy sauce, and a corn and goat cheese tamale (wasn't very corny). Both are very tasty indeed, although we thought they could have used a bit more salt. Without much knowledge of this type of food, though, we're a little unsure of that judgment. But we would have liked more salt anyway.
Roast suckling pig. A generous serving of long-time roasted (and probably braised) pork, served with garlic/orange mojo, sweet plantains, a smoky/sweet mountain of rice, and some cracklin. It doesn't get much better than cracklin. (We had already started digging into the dish you see pictured by the time I bothered taking a shot)
One of the real draws here is the "tapas" style menu. You can construct a great and fun meal out of the various small plates from their menu. In fact, they're much more appealing than the large plates on a whole.
Since we sat at the bar I can't comment on the service, but I should say that our bartender was knowledgeable and friendly. That goes a long way, and I wish more bartenders and managers could figure out that obvious little nugget of common sense.
I haven't explored the wine list, but they do have more than a few offerings by-the-glass, and they go beyond California and the usual suspects. Refreshing to say the least.
My biggest complaint is that they didn't expand the bar area. Sabor has another room behind the existing bar. If they had blown out that whole damned back half of the restaurant into bar/lounge, there'd be a lot more room for bar dining, which is almost always preferable.
Get there early, grab a spot at the bar, order one of the 6 or so different "mojitos" they've got on the menu, pick out a bunch of small plates, and be as thankful as I am that someone decided to inject a little excitement into the area.