A few months ago, I complained about how there really aren’t any Mexican restaurants doing anything unique with their food. Well, this past week I visited two places that give our dear town hope: SaborMx and Flacos Tacos. SaborMx opened last week to bring an upscale, modern take on traditional Mexican food to Fresno. Flacos Tacos features all organic, all vegan food served at a rock ‘n’ roll bar (with late night hours). Both experiences were truly refreshing.
This newly opened restaurant is located off of Brawley and the Fig Garden loop, near Steven’s Bicycles. Though not the most popular location for restaurants, SaborMx may be the spot that draws more than just the neighborhood crowd to the area. Owned by Santos Arevalo (who you may remember from his many years serving at Limón Peruvian Cuisine) and Alberto Torres, the duo serves up traditional dishes made from scratch. Alberto and his mother Eva are the chefs, while Santos runs the front of the house.
This restaurant has been a dream of theirs or five years, with many sleepless nights and a great deal of hard work. Santos told me they believe that people in Fresno deserve well-made enchiladas with real red mole and handmade tamales, not the frozen ones from a bag. “Mexican food is more than a greasy plate with rice and beans topped with sour cream,” he said. “It’s more than nachos or taco salad. Mexican food is also more than carne asada tacos or chimichangas—which, by the way, if you go to Mexico you won’t find there.”
At SaborMx, you will find dishes like chicken with red mole, barbacoa with mashed potatoes, and tacos de adobada made with pork loin. In the future, they will add other traditional dishes like the chiles en nogada, grilled huachinango (Veracruz-style red snapper) and a pork chop with chile colorado, just to name a few.
Personally, I loved the chicharrones with chili salt and lime. They weren’t greasy, and they just made me feel happy. With a few appetizers and dinner, I left spending about $25 for my meal. Here are some images of the food and of the casual, but nice restaurant:
Okay, so just because Beyoncé is all about vegan food, I certainly am not. I’ve had a few friends rave about Flacos Tacos, located in the restaurant side of Strummer’s in the Tower District, and it’s taken me several months to actually try it. In the past, I’ve been to vegan or vegetarian restaurants with four and five stars expecting greatness, only to be disappointed that these places are just “good for being healthy.” I’m sorry, but “they have the best cashew cheese” is not appealing to me. Real cheese always wins! Nonetheless, I walked into the dark, almost empty restaurant early on a Friday night (before the late crowd arrived), ordered their taco plate (it’s popular), and the flavors just exploded in my mouth. I couldn’t believe it.
Flacos comes to us from Berkeley, California, where lots of vegan cool kids frequented after shows. Strummer’s owner Eddie Numbskull used to take the bands he was promoting there when they played in the area because he loved the food so much. Years later, he and the owner opened a new location together in Fresno (they opened last March).
You will find everyone from teenage vegans (and their parents) eating there after shows at Strummer’s, to young families and businessmen in the afternoon for lunch. On Sundays, they highlight their vegan bar food like hot dogs and onion rings. The rest of the week, it’s banana leaf tamales, pozole, tacos especiales, taquitos and huaraches (large handmade organic corn tortilla layered with avocado, beans, rice, salsa and more). Their organic tortillas are made with corn, lime, salt and water – that’s it. The tacos feature a soy protein flavored with a plethora of Mexican spices like oregano, cumin, garlic, and mole sauce, topped with fresh cilantro, onions, radishes, and pico de gallo. It’s looks like a beautiful farmers market bounty on your plate.
When I went, I tried the tacos, the nachos (which will most likely be a new late night indulgence) and washed it down with a drink called “Spanish Bombs” – Makers Mark, Amaretto, and ginger beer. I’m a new fan—not because it’s good for being vegan—but because it’s actually good.
Kudos to both of these spots! Let’s support them to encourage more innovation with every new restaurant that opens (and strive to keep the good ones open, while we’re at it).
In midst of all this, a girl has gotta eat, right? Alisa is loves chatting with chefs behind the scenes and exploring the rich food culture of the Central Valley.