By Meredith Munk Special to The Herald
From its humble location, in a strip mall at the opposite end of a 7-Eleven, you would never expect to find a gem like Sabor a Mexico.
And from its shiny clean faux wood-grain tables and subtle Mexican decor, its quietly friendly and attentive staff to its delicious Mexican offerings, a gem it is.
It would be easy to jet by this restaurant on the way to the Mukilteo ferry or one of the waterfront restaurants nearby, but if you want a convenient and charming location to have a Mexican meal or imported beer, you need to stop here.
On a Monday evening the restaurant felt quiet, yet there were up to 30 guests all served by only two servers. And it was good service. Quick water and chips delivery. Frequent refills of iced tea and salsa.
All without the feeling of being rushed to order. We took our time ordering. The service was never without a smile and while it may be meaningless to many diners, I really did feel welcome when we were greeted with “Hola, amigos.”
Our evening started with iced tea and imported beer from the list of beverages (tea, $2.25; Sol, $4.25). Besides Mexican beers, sangria, margaritas and nonalcoholic beverages, they offer wine, several Tequila choices, and after-dinner Mexican and Spanish coffees.
The tortilla chips arrived warm with one bowl of salsa and one of pico de gallo. The chips were large and not greasy, and the salsa was dark and thick with a strong tomato flavor and the perfect amount of heat.
Salsa is bottomless and the pico de gallo is $3.25 for refills.
From the appetizer list, which includes several nacho choices, a tostada and jalapeno poppers (frozen, not homemade) we selected a large chicken quesadilla.
It arrived sliced and topped with fresh lettuce, delicious house-made guacamole and sour cream. It was grilled and filled with tender, flavorful shredded chicken and cheese.
The menu has a lot to offer: traditional Mexican restaurant fare plus a children’s menu, American standards (hamburger, cheeseburger) and six vegetarian options. Our meals all proved to be far better than traditional Mexican restaurant fare.
The first entree to arrive was my chicken fajitas ($14.95). Nothing quite builds the anticipation as a sizzling platter of fajita-spiced chicken with just the right sear, caramelized onions, and red and green peppers, trailed by a cloud of steam.
Served on a cast-iron dish, it was followed the accompaniments: lightly flavored Spanish rice, whole beans (from the option of whole, refried or black), sour cream and that delicious guacamole.
I chose flour tortillas to wrap my fajitas and could not have been more satisfied.
It was wonderful and enough food to take some home.
My friend ordered camarones enchiladas ($14.95) from the seafood dishes. Inside two corn tortillas were shrimp and mushrooms cooked together in a mild sauce, outside were rice and the requested black beans.
The enchilada was covered in green tomatillo sauce and topped with lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. My friend declared that his shrimp was cooked well and not rubbery. He cleaned his plate.
My husband ordered a carnitas burrito ($12.95). A large flour tortilla was filled with chunks of sirloin (or choice of chicken), large strips of sauteed bell pepper and onions and covered with sour cream and guacamole.
With the addition of a bit of salsa, it was pronounced just right. Rice and the choice of black beans were included. I shared a bite and found the meat mildly spiced and tender.
We wanted something sweet after dinner. The dessert menu offered flan, churros and deep-fried ice cream, but we selected cajeta de leche ($3.75), described as “puddinglike burnt cream.”
It came with whipped cream and three spoons. Its consistency was a bit like a thick caramel sauce, and it was too sweet for my taste.
Sabor a Mexico would be a great choice for lunch or dinner, or to stop by with friends for nachos and a beer. I’m going back.
Sabor a Mexico
8410 Mukilteo Speedway, Suite A; Mukilteo; 425-710-9094; www.saboramexico.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Vegetarian options: Yes.