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Firing Up the Flavors

With great, fresh tastes of authentic Mexican, blackened fish tacos, and a creative cocktail list (an Old Fashioned with tequila), Sabores is more than a meal — it’s a flavor vacation.

Donna Leahey
Sarah Eliza Roberts
April 28, 2018

It’s easy to find Mexican food in Tulsa. It’s harder to find authentic, fresh, made from scratch Mexican food that isn’t Southwest or Tex-Mex influenced. If you’re craving genuine Mexican from authentic recipes made from scratch with fresh ingredients, you want to check out Sabores.

Sabores is one of the newest businesses at downtown’s The Boxyard, and its modern cantina aesthetic fits right into The Boxyard’s young, trendy, eclectic feel.

What does authentic Mexican mean? “My chef, his mother is from Mexico,” says Andres Camacho, Sabores’ owner. “These are her recipes. This isn’t Americans trying to do Mexican food; this is authentic.”

“Sabores” means “flavors,” and Camacho delivers on that promise. Layers on layers of flavor. “My chef always says, ‘We’ve got to add more flavor!’”

The interior is bright with copious natural light streaming in through the wall of windows that look out into the courtyard with dining tables for nice weather. Salsa and cumbia music fill the air alongside the delicious scents of spices and savory cooking. The interior is so spacious, you wouldn’t guess it was made from cargo containers. “We have five containers. We customized the space, put in the bar, put in some walls. It’s customized more than most spaces in The Boxyard,” says Camacho.

Mexican Spiced Salmon (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Mexican Spiced Salmon (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Sabores has only been open since February, but it already has a following for the delicious, fresh flavors coming from the kitchen. “The fish tacos are very popular,” he says. “We serve hundreds of them in a month.”

The fish tacos are the most popular item on the menu, and one taste will tell you why. The fish is blackened and topped with Mexican slaw, avocado cream, and chipotle mayo. That’s special enough, but then it’s topped with mango pico, which adds a hint of sweet as the perfect complement to the savory dish. The soft tortilla holds a world of flavor and texture. One bite, and you’ll be a believer.

The dinner menu is a bit more upscale and includes the not-to-be-missed Mexican spiced salmon as a very popular choice. The presentation is beautiful and dramatic. The sun-dried tomato jalapeno sauce is a bold red base topped with a creamy pale green Mexican style risotto. A perfectly cooked portion of salmon sits atop the risotto, framed with crispy Mexican corn fritters and topped with zucchini and squash. Every bite is a revelation. The risotto is creamy and rich. At the same time, the fresh flavors keep it from feeling heavy. The corn fritters set off the savory with a hint of sweet, while the salmon is seasoned just right. The sun-dried tomato jalapeno sauce adds a hint of heat along with the sweet and savory richness of the tomatoes.

Oaxaca Old Fashioned (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Oaxaca Old Fashioned (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

The bar features great cocktails made with tequila and mescal and an extensive beer list. You might not think of tequila when you think of an Old Fashioned, but give it a try; it will make you a believer. You can find original concoctions like a sweet cocktail accented with serrano peppers, a light and fresh carrot juice cocktail, or more traditional cocktails.

There’s too many flavorful options to try them all in one visit, so bring a bunch of friends with you to try everything. Be sure to start with esquites, or Mexican street corn. You might not have thought of corn as a great appetizer, but that’s just because you haven’t tried it yet. The corn is roasted and seasoned, then topped with crema, queso cotija, and pico de gallo. It’s flavor on flavor and so delicious, you will keep going back for one more bite. It’s presented beautifully with a swirl of crema and the colors of the pico.

Another starter you should try is the taquitos dorados. A bright and colorful presentation, the dish is a bean puree under marinated chicken taquitos, topped with salsa verde, crema, queso fresco, and shredded lettuce.

A light, bright choice for lunch is the avocado mango salad. It’s a plate of romaine generously topped with strips of mango and avocado, queso cotija, toasted pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, and a tangy, fresh chipotle lime vinaigrette. The green avocado and orange mango provide not just visual contrasts to each other on the plate, but a creamy and tangy contrast for your palate. The pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch as well as another flavor contrast, and all of it is set off perfectly with the vinaigrette.

Another quick and tasty lunch option is the tacos street style. Served with rice and beans, you can choose two or three tacos filled generously with carne asada, al pastor, barbacoa, or chicken. Try the smoky and flavorful barbacoa, though all the options are great.

Camacho’s favorite dish is the Shrimp Diablo Ranchero, a festive combination of shrimp, onion, poblano, and bell pepper, tossed with a spicy chile salsa. The fresh flavors are set off perfectly by the spicy salsa, which enhances the sweet flavor of the shrimp. The dish is rounded out with sides of rice and beans.

Among the dessert options is a rich tres leches cake with vanilla scented spongecake and a blend of three types of cream for a decadent and cool finish to your meal. Camacho is planning for seasonal flans to be added soon to the dessert menu.

Camacho has worked in restaurants around Tulsa for the last 10 years. He moved to Tulsa after completing business and culinary school. With the availability of a space for a restaurant opening in The Boxyard, Camacho put together a business plan, recruited a chef and a bartender he knew he wanted to work with and “from there, it went really fast.” Sabores is quickly becoming a favorite in downtown.

The Boxyard | 502 E. 3rd St., Unit 27 | Tulsa
Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday (food only): Midnight-3 a.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.