[Ann Arbor] Isalita

[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

Isalita | www.isalita.com
Address: 341A E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Date visited: 2013.02
Total bill: $92 + tax and tip (split among four people)
Verdict: Good ideas; a number of dishes were well executed while some others were not
Will return: Maybe
What to get: 
  – Truffle Guacamole
  – Flautas
  – Al Pastor Tacos

I never have an urge to eat Mexican food. Like actually never. But one glance at the menu and the truffle guacamole and pork belly tacos reeled me in.
Isalita is a tapas style restaurant, which means small plates of food and everything is shared. Basically, you eat small portions of a lot of things, which is very good for me and my friends who are variety pigs. I normally don’t comment on food presentation because I really don’t care how the food looks as long as it tastes good. But I have to say all the dishes had beautiful presentation; you can tell a lot of thought was put into the details. 
This place does not take reservations for parties less than six. We went on a Saturday night and the place was packed like the ugli during exams week. We waited a full two hours from the time we put our names down (7pm) to when we were seated (9pm). I would come back again for the truffle guacamole, duck confit flautas, and pork belly tacos but not if I had to wait more than 30 minutes. Seriously, grab five friends so you can make a reservation.
Truffle Guacamole ($10) with jalapeno, cilantro, huitlacoche vinaigrette
This guacamole has a very thick and creamy texture and was very limey. The truffle flavor was indistinguishable after it was mixed into the guacamole to the point where I am still not sure what truffles actually taste like. This is really good overall though so definitely get this to start.
Isalita Truffle Guacamole
Truffle Guacamole
Isalita Truffle Guacamole
Spicy Tuna Ceviche ($13) with green mango, toasted coconut, pickled onions, chile serrano, lime
I don’t think the elements in this dish mix well together and I really did not like the toasted coconuts being in this dish. The tuna tasted bland (tuna usually tastes this way unless it is high quality sushi-grade tuna so I expected this) and the other elements didn’t help it.
Isalita Spicy Tuna Ceviche
Spicy Tuna Ceviche
Hamachi Ceviche ($12) with orange habanero sauce, citrus segments, lime granita
My friends did not like this but I did (they thought it was too fruity). Unlike the spicy tuna ceviche, I think this combination worked very well together.
Isalita Hamachi Ceviche
Spicy Tuna Ceviche (L) and Hamachi Ceviche (R)
Flautas ($9) with duck confit, poblano avocado sauce, radish, lettuce, crema
This is duck confit rolled up in a fried tortilla. Duck confit is made by drowning duck leg meat in its own fat. Isalita put a Mexican spin on a French style dish and executed it very well. 
Isalita Duck Confit Flautas
Duck Confit Flautas
Tuna Tostadas ($12; $4 for each addition) with morita chile crema, avocado, crispy shallot
Again, the tuna was a bit bland (I know this is not something the restaurant can do anything about) but the other elements didn’t do much to enhance it. The tortilla chip was really salty. I didn’t care for this.
Isalita Tuna Tostadas
Tuna Tostadas
Isalita Tuna Tostadas
Baja Fish Tacos (3 Tacos for $12) with chipotle remoulade, avocado, pickled red cabbage
I love fish tacos (Black Pearl’s are the best; Tio’s are great as well) but these were just okay. They use fried fish stick, which inherently puts it in a lower bracket. 
Each order comes with three tacos. You cannot add extra tacos, which I think is really unreasonable because 1. you can add extra portions to appetizers and 2. you would pay for extras. We had four people so this was a problem for us. I was pretty annoyed by this.
Isalita Baja Fish Tacos
Trio of Baja Fish Tacos
Isalita Baja Fish Tacos

Al Pastor Tacos (3 Tacos for $10) with guajillo glazed pork belly, pickled pineapple
These are absolutely amazing. The pork belly was cooked just right and had a slight charcoal/smokey taste (the good kind). This dish was perfectly executed and worth the two hour wait alone. We got two orders of these and I wish we had gotten more. I would recommend getting however many orders it requires for every person to have at least two tacos.

Isalita Al Pastor Tacos
Trio of Al Pastor Pork Belly Tacos
Isalita Al Pastor Tacos