Sabor Latin Street Grill, a small chain based in Charlotte, has opened its first Triad location at 57 Miller St. in Winston-Salem, next to Whole Foods Market.
Sabor opened April 18 and has scheduled its grand opening for April 28.
It is the 18th location for the fast-casual chain that offers a mix of foods from such countries as Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Venezuela and Colombia.
“We make our food fresh every single day, the way it should be. From the masa cakes used for arepas and gorditas to the stuffed empanadas, braised meats, grilled carne asada and our unique salsas,” said Dalton Espaillat, the founder and owner of Raydal Hospitality, the group behind Sabor Latin Street Grill, La Caseta and Three Amigos Mexican Grill & Cantina.
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Espaillat, a native of the Dominican Republic, opened the first Sabor in Charlotte in 2013. “I’m a civil engineer, and I wanted to start a concrete construction company. In order to do that I needed some kind of cash-flow business. Then I came across a restaurant, a Mexican restaurant on Central Avenue (in Charlotte) that I opened with two partners,” he said.
That was in 2010, and the restaurant was Three Amigos Mexican Grill & Cantina, which is still in business. The partners left and Espaillat’s family got involved to make it a success. Espaillat forgot about the construction business.
Next, he started looking for a simple concept using fresh ingredients that he could replicate in different locations. That’s when he started thinking about the street food of his native country.
“The Dominican Republic — it’s like a melting pot of all these Latin American countries. I said, ‘Let’s have food that we eat on the street.’ That was the start of the concept. So, we sell a lot of tacos and burritos, but we try to have one dish from each Latin American country.”
The company now has restaurants in such areas as Mooresville, Huntersville and Fort Mill, S.C. The Winston-Salem location is the farthest to date from Charlotte except for Greenville, S.C.
The restaurant offers counter service, and orders are then delivered to your table.
The menu consists of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, bowls and a handful of well-known Latin American street-food specialties. The latter include arepas tradicional ($5.95), popular in Colombia and Venezuela; empanadas ($3.95), popular all over South America; and the gorditas ($6.95) and quesabirrias ($10 for two) of Mexico. There also are Salvador fries ($7.95) of yuca topped with shredded chicken, cheese and more. Diners also will find fried sweet plantains and cinnamon-dusted churros on the menu.
Tacos ($2.95 to $4.95 each) include chimichurri shrimp, curtido fish and pork belly.
Burritos ($8.49 to $9.95) include the El Dominicano with shredded chicken, cabbage and more and the Sabor Especial with a choice of protein, rice, beans, sour cream, pice de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and queso.
Quesadillas are available with cheese only for $6.25 or with barbacoa for $10.25.
Bowls include the Cuban with barbacoa, shredded chicken, black beans, plantains and two kinds of rice ($10.95), and the Quinoa Avocado with quinoa Aztec rice blend, avocado, grilled vegetables, cilantro and chimichurri yogurt ($8.95).
All bowls, tacos and burritos can be customized. Customers can get any of those with any one of the following: ground beef, shredded chicken, grilled chicken, black beans, grilled vegetables chorizo, al pastor pork and tofu ranchero — or, for a slight upcharge, grilled steak, barbacoa, pork belly, grilled shrimp or grilled fish.
Sides include french fries, yuca fries, refried beans, chips, Mexican rice and more.
The restaurant also sells meal boxes for families and has daily specials, including $1.49 tacos on Tuesdays, free kids meals on Wednesdays and $6 margaritas on Saturdays. (Although the Winston-Salem location does not have its ABC alcohol permits yet.)
Espaillat said he had wanted to expand into Winston-Salem for a while. “In Winston-Salem, there’s been a big influx of (Latin American) immigrants, so a lot of people are already familiar with the food,” he said.
He said he was pleasantly surprised — though caught off-guard — to find that Winston-Salem customers were ordering some of his favorite street-food items and not as many tacos and burritos. “One day we sold out of arepas and empanadas in an hour. I didn’t expect that,” he said.
Sabor is looking to expand more this year. Espaillat said he has a lease for a spot in Durham and is seeking locations in Greensboro and Raleigh.