This past Sunday my brother and I were keen to check out a brand new Mexican restaurant in Ann Arbor that we kept hearing good things about. We were both a little apprehensive because we heard their Sunday hours are limited and it was still early in the afternoon. We were determined to see if they were open. Conveniently for us, as we approached the building we heard lots of chatter, and it just happened to be Cinco De Mayo so they were open for a special lunch (we found out from the hostess that usually on Sunday's they don't open til 4). Isalita is a name that holds a certain charm, and the charm of the name reflects the atmosphere of the restaurant. For Cinco De Mayo Isalita had group seating to promote a neighborhood atmosphere. I thought that was a really fun touch. And all I can say is WOW. Seriously the best Mexican food I have ever had, and I don't throw those types of comments around at whim.
The restaurant was packed (not only was it Cinco De Mayo but it was also UofM's graduation weekend), lots of maze and blue floating around. Despite the crowd, the service was friendly and up-beat from the moment we walked in.
For the entree, Luke ordered under the Ceviche portion of the menu and got the Spicy Tuna. There's green onion, tomato, and toasted coconut in the mix here. He loved it. At first glance the dish seems a bit pricey for the portion, but it is fresh tuna, which is pricey in the first place.
I ordered the Carne Nachos. I'm not the biggest fan of nachos, but the ingredients were what convinced me: skirt steak topped with jalapeno's, refried beans, crema and tomato. There was also a slight amount of "heat" to this dish. Yum!
Luke had to help me eat this because even after just a few bites, I already felt full. It's THAT packed with flavor. A little chat from our server and I found out that the steak is first prepared on a hot skillet with all spice, garlic and a dash of cinnamon. Don't let the sound of cinnamon in nachos throw you off. It's subtle, delicious, and very much worth the try!
I generally judge restaurants not only on the quality and freshness of the food, (along with the service), but also on the overall atmosphere. The decor is vibrant and fun. On a trip downstairs to find the restroom, there was a whole other section to the restaurant for larger parties. Murals and pictures of famous Mexican's cover the walls. The bathrooms are nicely kept and decorated (I have a thing with pretty bathrooms, anyone else?). Overall Isalita was a great dining experience and I can't wait to try that truffle guacamole. Anything that mixes avocado and chocolate sounds right up my alley!
If you want to check out the hours and get an idea of the menu options check out their website: Isalita