Sabor Caribe


Viva Venezuela!

In early 2020, while drinking beer at Bardog Tavern, l thought about what to get for dinner. With no enthusiasm for cooking at home, it came down to where I would dine. Obviously, my first thought was staying where I was, for Bardog had some good specials that night. As I contemplated this, I asked myself why am I following the same routine? As a food blogger, I feel it's my duty to go on a "food find" occasionally, just to stay relevant. In mulling over the many restaurants that came to mind, one stood out in particular. It goes back to a conversation I had with a good friend about a bombastic burger he had at the former Burly's Burgers Fries and Shakes in Memphis' Medical Center. He described it as the "Dagwood" of burgers (not exactly his words, but I'm colorfully paraphrasing) that had a lot of stuff packed in it. With his recommendation (along with a good review from Seth at Best Memphis Burger) I decided that was where I was going. Then for some reason the thought "hey, isn't that place closed?" occurred before remembering that was Arepa and Salsa. That was Sabor Caribe's predecessor that closed along with the Trolley Stop Market and my favorite barber shop on that section of Madison Avenue. Once I verified that Sabor Caribe was legit, I was off to the restaurant for a "bombastic" burger.
 
But First...

When I started my review of Sabor Caribe, the world was a much different place. Everything was normal, with people free to go about their business and associate with whoever they wanted to in just about any setting. No one had to worry about viruses or social distancing or whether to wear a mask. Of course, last year seems like a century ago, for COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of society. As it relates to restaurants, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the industry, forcing many restaurants out of business. For those that remained, it has been tough going, having to reduce dining capacity and laying off workers in the process. Fortunately, things are looking up in 2021 with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and the passing of the American Rescue Plan (aka the COVID relief bill) that includes over 28 billion dollars for restaurants and bars. Hopefully, this will help restaurants like Sabor Caribe get back on the road to prosperity.  As a frequent diner, I'm looking forward to dining out again at my favorite restaurants, mask free.
Until things get back to normal, I will rely more on take-out and delivery than I usually do because a lot of restaurants have closed their dining rooms. So for my second "visit" to Sabor Caribe, I decided to chill at home and order from Uber Eats. After a previous order when I almost paid double for a chicken and waffles plate from Waffle Mania (which was delicious), I was very reluctant to use Uber Eats again. Fortunately, the extra fees wasn't outrageous this time around so ordering out was more feasible. It kills me that tech companies like Uber are taking advantage of the pandemic, putting restaurants in an almost untenable position of relying on them to stay afloat (and having to share a huge amount of its sales (approximately 30%) with the "techies"). But it is what it is and survival is key (yay Capitalism).

The Screaming Arepa (aka the 'Griton')from Sabor Caribe in Memphis, TN

For my order, I decided to keep it traditional Venezuelan (or Colombian, depending on perspective) by ordering the Screaming Arepa (aka the "Gritona") and a chicken empanada with a side of rice. As you can see, an arepa consists of maize bread that can be eaten by itself or either stuffed or folded into a sandwich like the one I got. In the Screaming Arepa, that is grilled beef, avocado, tomato and white cheese, a combination that's delightful but doesn't make you "scream" (in other words, it's isn't spicy). However, the flaky and sweet corn flavor of the bread was very good and accentuated everything else in it. The beef (as in steak) was tender and very tasty, with the avocado adding extra pizzazz (I personally put the green vegetable on par with bacon and fried eggs as things that make almost any sandwich better). A bit of caution when eating this arepa: keep it in the wrapper, or you will have a mess on your hands. The bread is delicate and doesn't hold up well, especially when its inundated with juices from the tomato slice and the beef. Overall, the arepa was very good and I'm likely to order it again once Dr. Fauci... er, the government determines that life is normal again.
By the way, the empanada (which is a type of dumpling) was decent, too. Stuffed with shredded white chicken meat, it's classic South American "street food" that can be easily consumed without mess or fuss. A few of these along with maize bread can make for a great snack or even an appetizer. I guess that's something to look forward to once things return to normal.

And now...

The La Bomba burger from Sabor Caribe in Memphis, TN

...back to "The Bomb"

 
When I got to the restaurant (again, in the maskless part of 2020), I immediately ordered the La Bomba. A traditional Venezuelan cheeseburger, it is stuffed with ham, bacon, egg, avocado, grated potato chips and a bunch of veggies that is pretty much the equivalent of coleslaw. Plus, it comes with either additional beef, pork or shredded chicken that amounts to a HUGE cheeseburger. Despite all the things that makes up the La Bomba, it didn't overwhelm me in taste. Although the beef patty was decent and everything else complemented it, I didn't get the explosion of flavors that's implied in the burger's name. Eventually, after adding the restaurant's version of a spicy mayonnaise, the La Bomba ended up being a good cheeseburger. With a burger having so much going on, you would assume that it would be extraordinary but that often isn't the case. In my experience, some of the best burgers I've eaten only had a few components with the beef being the the linchpin of the burger. Using the philosophy of the late Anthony Bourdain, a perfect burger should be simplistic yet savory. Under that standard, the La Bomba is a bit much but it's good for those who are really hungry. The one standout from the La Bomba is the chicken, for it was tender, tasty and deserving of its own sandwich (or empanada like the one that I mentioned earlier). Overall, the La Bomba is a good cheeseburger that isn't quite the "bomb" that my friend made it out to be (to be fair, his burger from Arepa and Salsa might have been of a higher quality).
To sum it up, Sabor Caribe is a nice little restaurant serving good food in these challenging times. The restaurant offers a unique experience in a city that's enamored with barbecue and almost anything fried. I hope more people discover this place, particularly Downtown residents whenever the Madison Avenue trolley comes back online. I would love to see more people "sabor" the flavor of this gem in Memphis.
SaborCaribe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



A New Look for the "Find"

If you're a fan of this blog, I'm sure you noticed that it has a new, "modern" look. It was long overdue and necessary for today's internet community. The new layout is especially apparent on the desktop version of the blog that was something of a mess. This version is more streamlined for desktop and mobile users, making it easier and less clunky for searches on the blog. Also, there's more clarity and consistency in the various elements in the blog, particularly as it relates to social media feeds that should function in the same manner regardless of whether you're using a phone (Android or iPhone), tablet or a desktop/laptop computer. Hopefully, the changes will make for a better experience on Ken's Food Find.
As an added touch, I also changed both the logos and color schemes for the blog. logo for Ken's Food Find, a food blog based in Memphis, TN Giving it a more artistic look, both the blog and new logos consist of two primary colors, with "red" symbolizing meat (even seafood) and the "green" representing vegetables. The "fork" in the logo symbolizes my desire to eat the variety of foods in Memphis and beyond on the universal plate of dining. Also, to accommodate some social media platforms that require a square "avatar" to represent an entity, I also added a plaid tablecloth background that symbolizes the restaurants I desire to visit. From a vexillology perspective, the logo could make for a snazzy looking flag or banner. In all, I hope these changes convey a seriousness of my commitment to Ken's Food Find as one of Memphis' best food blogs. Bon appetit!

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