Isalita, Ann Arbor
Posted on January 15, 2013 by Tim Tolbert
Ann Arbor restauranteur Adam Baru has another hit on his hands. Isalita, his new Mexican small plates concept, was packed to the rafters this past Saturday afternoon when I arrived for my initial visit. Situated adjacent to Baru’s first restaurant, Mani, the Isalita space includes an appealing open plan seating layout with a long bar and cocktail tables along the north wall. Another focal point is the striking over sized mural of native Mexicans that lends the space an air of rustic authenticity. Baskets have been fashioned as lighting and interesting curios add a touch of whimsy.
Similar to Mani, many of the menu items are designed to be shared among the table and we commenced with the house made pico de gallo, guacamole and chips. The guacamole was excellent; strong hits of lime accentuated the rich, mashed up avocado. Both the pico and chips were also well done although I would have liked to see a bit more salt present on the chips but that’s a minor quibble.
The duck confit flautas and pork belly tacos confirmed that we were not going to be seeing any sloppy combo plates laden with rice, beans and gobs of melted cheese coming out of the kitchen. Everything we saw on the menu was elevated with nuanced, fresh flavors and a flair for detail. The melt in your mouth pork belly tacos were accompanied by a perfect dollop of pickled pineapple. There are seven different original takes on street tacos on the menu; each comprised of two to three bite mini corn tortillas laden with their contents. Taco orders include three tacos each; perfect for our table of three that evening but likely to cause friction among couples….they’re that good!
Pork Belly Tacos
As we needed to kill time before a 7PM movie we ambled our way through the menu eventually ordering the Queso Fundido which included a layer of crumbled house made chorizo sausage interspersed amongst the delicious Mexican melting cheese. A tidy pile of pickled jalapenos and red onions topped off the fantastic dish. House made mini flour tortillas were served as dipping vehicles.
Desert was eventually ordered and we tried the Tres Leches cake as well as the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae; both also excellent.
The drinks menu features a long list of house made cocktails, margaritas, fine bourbon whiskeys and a great number of tequilas.
Isalita341 E Liberty St Ste 2 Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (734) 213-7400. www.isalita.com