During his 17 years working as district manager for the popular Midwestern restaurant chain Steak & Shake, Pedro Guzman always dreamed of opening up his own operation. Although he learned the ropes of running a successful restaurant operation through this experience, his dream was always to use his talent and know-how to create a truly authentic Mexican restaurant. His dream became a reality when he moved to Washington about seven years ago and entered into a partnership with sister-in-law Cecilia Naranjo Leal, who started out modestly with a taco truck in Kent. As the business picked up, she moved the operation to a small permanent location that could seat about 8 to 10 people.
The restaurant grew to open another location in Shoreline and, two and a half years ago, a Tacoma location opened up at 1636 S. Mildred St. near Tacoma Community College, seating more than 30 people.
The brightly colored, cheerful restaurant features truly authentic Mexican cuisine that Guzman himself ensures meets high standards for freshness and quality. “This is the food I cook at home,” he said, adding that all sauces, salsas and other ingredients are hand prepared in-store.
The extensive menu features soups, salads, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and much more, for a reasonable price. Daily lunch specials feature menu items for $6 or less, and the restaurant also offers happy hour from 2-6 p.m. with $.59 tacos and other specials.
Many dishes at Taqueria El Sabor are developed straight from authentic Mexican recipes, but before appearing on the official menu, Guzman says it takes about a month to perfect each dish.
In the Kent location, many soups and combination platters are very popular, while Shoreline customers tend to especially enjoy tortas. In Tacoma, each menu item sells well. “The whole menu is very popular here in Tacoma,” he said.
Menu highlights include burrito plates (choice of meat, onions, cilantro in a chipotle based sauce, served with rice and beans, sour cream and guacamole, $7.69), carne asada (broiled steak, seasoned with a secret recipe, $9.99), enchiladas chipotle (chicken or beef covered with chipotle sauce, served with rice and beans, cabbage, tomato, melted cheese and shredded Mexican cheese, $6.99) and much more.
The menu also includes a list of desserts, sodas, milkshakes and more. Taqueria El Sabor now opens at 9 a.m. for breakfast burritos (full menu opens at 10 a.m.) and closes every day at 10 p.m. The restaurant is located at 1636 S. Mildred St. in Tacoma.