Isabel's Amor in Gilbert: Happy Hour Report Card
The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 until 6 p.m.
In the world of southeast Gilbert, chains dominate the scene. It was exciting to hear of a new locally owned Mexican concept popping up in the area, off Val Vista Drive and Williams Field Road. Inside, Isabel's Amor combines feminine flourishes with rustic sensibilities. Isabel's succeeds where a lot of other Phoenix spots fail -- transforming a bare strip mall template into an inviting restaurant. Take a seat at the purple-based bar, under the silver tiles, to try out the happy hour specials.
Heather Hoch The menu says these frijoles de amor are a must-have.
During happy hour, $5 appetizers rule the menu. This would seem like a deal if two of them weren't already $5 and three more are regularly priced at $6. We started with the nachos, adding carne asada ($3 extra). While the classic single-serving presentation proved to help us keep our fingers cleaner, the nachos were near toppingless. The modest amount of cheese, bland refried beans, tomatoes, and a few pickled jalapeños made for an unsatisfying nacho experience, though the carne asada was delicious, flavorful, and well-prepared on its own. The pico de avocado, which is just their way of saying guacamole, is pretty much identical to what you'd find at most other Mexican joints in town around this price point, but it does help out the nachos if you dollop it on top.
Against our instincts, which would've led us to the jicama fresca salad with watermelon and jalapeño or even the elote, we followed the menu's suggestion to get the "must-have house specialty" frijoles de amor. We weren't wowed by the beans on the nachos, but we hoped the jalapeño cream cheese would help on this dish. Unfortunately, despite cute plating in a cast iron skillet, it was just as bland, with little to no spice or even salt to speak of. We don't want to disparage the past of the family who owns Isabel's Amor's, but it seems going from their chain of fast food restaurants, Someburros, to casual dining didn't quite make the leap.