Food and Drink

Sabor has a secret menu — here’s what you should have been ordering all along.

Have you had the Plátanos Maduros con Carne at Sabor? Wait — you’ve never heard of it?

That’s because it’s on the secret menu.

Secret menus are all the rage at restaurants around the country, and it’s no different here in the Queen City. At Charlotte’s fast-casual Latin street food joint, Sabor, the secret items have become a bit of an underground hit — so much so that they can disguise them no longer.

Known for its authentic and savory street fare, Sabor draws influences from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and El Salvador. “This is the stuff that our employees make that we have all the ingredients for, so you can order it as well,” Sabor CEO and owner Dalton Espaillat told CharlotteFive. “We’re going to teach you how to order some of these cool dishes.”

A few tips, per Espaillat: “You have to be patient. Don’t order them when the line is out the door. You’ve got to be strategic how you are going to do this.”

Espaillat got the idea for a secret menu after a conversation with a foodie at a Yelp event and from some of his employees who make these items for their regulars. “Truthfully, there are only so many menu items that can fit on the two menu boards.”

Dalton Espaillat, CEO and owner of Sabor, said some of his employees already make secret menu items for their regulars — and for themselves. Alex Cason

If you crave it, you can order it — don’t feel like you have to be confined to the secret menu, either. Espaillat said as long as the restaurant has the ingredients, anything can be yours. “Edgar, our CFO, he likes to eat the arepas with steak, onions and peppers,” for example.

Here are 5 menu items you can order — sans menu:

(1) Queso con Chorizo

Queso with Chorizo. Photo by: Alex Cason Photography ( Alex Cason

Freshly cooked chorizo with cheese served with warm tortilla chips and char (red) habañero sauce.

(2) Cuban Bowl

The Cuban Bowl includes beef barbacoa, shredded chicken, black beans, fried plantains and two kinds of rice served with a lime wedge. Alex Cason

“Another good one that we’re trying to get on the menu but is still a secret secret menu (item) is the Cuban bowl. You order a bowl of rice with sweet plantains, shredded beef or chicken and black beans, and it makes it exactly what they eat in Cuba,” Espaillat said.

(3) Plátanos Maduros con Carne

Sabor’s Platano con Carne. Alex Cason

Sweet plantains with ground beef and cheese.

(4) Barbacoa Empanada

You can get a barbacoa-stuffed empanada at Sabor, if you know to ask. Alex Cason

Spicy Rosada sauce, cheese, barbacoa.

(5) Barepa

A Barepa is an arepa stuffed with barbacoa. Alex Cason

“The Barepa is my wife’s favorite. It has shredded beef, and add curtido slaw and avocado to an arepa,” Espaillat said.

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