Gladly, I have a standing invitation with the Ladies’ Lunch gang here at the office. Today, we opted for Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine at the newly-opened Mario Sabino’s on Lemmon, housed in the former Casa Blanca spot next to CiCi’s. With uber-fast service and a decent lunch selection for less than $10, we were stoked.
I’d never been to Casa Blanca so I’m not sure how much of a difference there was in the interior, but the simplicity in Sabino’s interior design was a nice reprieve from most places that overcompensate with junk on the walls. And it was quiet too but not uncomfortably so. Lately I’ve had issues with restaurants and their loudness. Sabino’s seems to want you to stay and we’d be more than happy to oblige, that is if we had more than an hour.
We ordered from the lunch menu that spoke oh-so kindly to our budget minded wallets. No plate was over $7.99 and that was just fine. I ordered the chicken flautas which I always worry about being a glorified appetizer. Here, they offered six half-size flautas filled with tasty chicken and ample enough to be satisfying. Guac, sour cream and queso came on the side. They added a nice touch but even bites without the accouterments were delicious. The refried beans and rice were meh but nothing detrimental.
I used to have mixed feelings about food that came out too quick. Our orders were probably on our table within five minutes. I worried that our plates had finally broken free from heating lamp hell but instead, mine tasted fairly fresh considering it’s breakneck speed to the table.
There was nothing overly creative about the plates but they had enough foundation to be a filling lunch. Fast service was a plus and the salsa options were a delight.
“The tacos were good, nothing fancy although the rice was dry. What they lacked in originality, though, they made up for with the four different salsas. A girl loves variety,” lunching lady Kristina said.
Chris’ grilled chicken salad was a beautiful plate of greens (and avocado!) with a hefty portion of chicken on top. “The portions of chicken were unusually good. Unfortunately, I’m on a diet where that was my only option. I was jealous of everyone in the restaurant! I almost broke the diet when she brought out the chips with four dipping sauces. Plus, service was very good,” Chris said.
Chance ordered the flank steak which ended in a basically clean plate . “It was some of the most tender meat I’ve ever had in my mouth,” he said. Of course it was.
My one complaint would be Sabino’s case of refill-itis. I ordered a soft drink but the others had tea and after maybe a couple of sips, they were immediately refilled. My refills were quick too but sodas don’t require doctoring. Personally, if I have to tend to my tea flavoring, I don’t need an immediate refill once I have it perfect. So, Sabino’s wait staff, please wait until more than 50 percent of the glass is empty before refilling tea, or any drink for that matter. In fact, watch this (nevermind the derailing at the end). This gives you less legwork and less interruptions for diners.
Otherwise, the Ladies’ Lunch is keeping Mario Sabino’s on the go-back list and I’m jumping on board.