Alicia and Aaron Batista (center) cut the ribbon on their new restaurant, Sabores Mexican Cocnia & Tequila Bar, on Wednesday in Fresno. Photos by Edward Smith

published on December 12, 2018 - 1:50 PM
Written by Edward Smith

A new Mexican restaurant opened today in northwest Fresno, replacing a well-missed classic.

Sabores Mexican Cocina & Tequila Bar held its grand opening at 3173 W. Shaw Ave. Wednesday. Members of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation gathered to watch owners Aaron and Alicia Batista cut the ribbon on their restaurant, which is in the former Plaza Ventana space at the Times Square Shopping Center.

A chef at Sabores warms up tortillas on Wednesday.


The aim is to serve “more traditional Mexican flavors,” Alicia said.

Everything is made from scratch, from the salsa to a family recipe for beans passed on from her mother-in-law.

“We like having homemade flavors, even the beans are a family recipe,” Alicia said. “It’s like a signature here.”

Another dish the Batistas boast is the carne en su jugo, which is a beef soup served in a rich broth with bacon, green onions and a sauce made with cilantro, tomatillos and a just a hint of Serrano peppers.

Those who like a drink with their meal may have to wait though, as the bar won’t be open until the beginning of the year. The liquor license has to be posted for 30 days before they can serve tequilas and other beverages.

The dream for the restaurant came from Alicia’s love of cooking and socializing. She and her husband had long wanted to own their own business. So, she left her job as a production supervisor at a food processing facility where she “used to be covered in onion dust.”

“I like talking to people, so I think this is the perfect combination to do something that I like,” Alicia said.

She wanted a more flexible schedule, and while she acknowledges that running a business won’t give her that at the beginning, once things settle down, she’ll be able to spend more time with her three kids, she said.

The hard part was finding a spot she liked. What she wanted was a more traditional look for Sabores. She wanted to move away from the sombreros and bright reds and greens that many have come to associate with Mexican restaurants.

She replaced the umbrella that once hovered over diners with a bronze chandelier.

In the first two weeks since her soft opening, she has already heard compliments on her food. She prides herself on the four positive Yelp reviews she has already received within one week of being on the website.

Plaza Ventana closed in January after a spokesperson for the restaurant said owner David Borunda had wanted to “cut back his workload.” It had been there for 27 years.

Sabores is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

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