Best Mexican Food: Isalita

David Song/Daily
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By Caroline Filips, Daily Arts Writer
Published April 10, 2015

Isalita was the restaurant Ann Arbor didn’t know it needed. When Mani’s next-door neighbor emerged on East Liberty’s restaurant scene in 2013, the city already had a preponderance of Mexican eateries — countless burrito joints for the late-night drunkards, Qdoba and Chipotle for a quick bite on a collegiate budget, Prickly Pear when you venture out of central campus’s bubble and Aventura when the parents are paying. Though for students, Isalita ultimately falls into the latter category, the authentic Mexican eats are more than splurge-worthy.

What sets Isalita apart from its comestible counterparts is its upscale flair without pretentiousness. There’s no pretense of modernizing the usual fare of a classic cantina, the expected dishes are just dressed up a little bit. As far as eating with the eyes goes, Isalita delivers. I’ve never been so enamored by the presentation of my quesadilla and the modern art that was my nachos, but alas, there’s a first time for everything.

In retrospect of my two visits, Isalita has yet to disappoint. Upon seating, customers are encouraged to order various tapas for the table, which can be shared with ease on the lazy susans. I urge you to precede your meal with the freshest of guacamoles and the salsa trio, but I advise you to not make my two-peat mistake of filling up on the irresistible chips and dip before the true fiesta. If you find yourself with an appetite after appetizers, the inventive potato poblano quesadilla is a favorite, along with the delicious, simple chicken tinga tacos. Seeing as it is consistently crowded, the young Isalita has surely secured a spot in the hearts of Ann Arborites.