The Austin Chronicle

What's Cooking at the Triangle

By Kate Thornberry, October 24, 2008, Food

Sago Modern Mexican Restaurant

4600 Guadalupe Ste. B-5, 452-0300
Sunday-Monday, 11am-9pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-10:30pm; Weekend Brunch, 11am-3pm

Sago claims to be unique and modern in its approach to both Tex-Mex and Interior Mexican cuisine, and that's a justified claim. From the moment you taste the table salsas, your expectations begin to climb. The red table salsa has a fire-roasted tomato, guajillo, and pasilla red-pepper base – slightly offbeat and very good. The green table salsa is, in a word, magnificent. Sweet yet sour, hot yet mild, as only a perfect roasted-tomatillo salsa can be. The tortilla chips are fresh-fried and of such a high quality that you have to restrain yourself from making a meal of chips and sauce alone. Everything at Sago is made on the premises. Though the menu is light on vegetarian options, it is inventive and, like the red salsa, offbeat: Appetizers include gordi­tas, ceviche, yucca fritters, and baby back ribs, as well as the more traditional chile con queso and guacamole. The entrées are memorable and clearly demonstrate the skill of chef Chase Jones, an ambitious chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I had the chipotle chicken stuffed poblano ($10.95), recommended by my server. A layered deconstruction of chile relleno, the dish featured a fresh-roasted poblano pepper, fully cooked yet still firm, filled with spiced white chicken, balanced on a layer of cilantro-honey rice with a fried corn masa cake layered in between, adding a divine, crunchy texture. Absolutely fabulous. The cheese enchiladas ($9.95), made with mozzarella, asadero, and cheddar, were also fantastic: fresh, garlicky, and not remotely greasy, topped with a creamy roasted-tomatillo sauce.

Sago does breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, and the menus for each meal reflect a free-thinking mindset. Lunch features Mexican panini such as the Havana (sliced pork loin, pickles, mustard, sweet roasted garlic, and Swiss on ciabatta, $9.95) and entrée salads such as the Interior Shrimp (achiote-grilled shrimp with avocado, pumpkin seeds, cojete, greens, onions, and red pepper, $9.95), as well as enchiladas and tacos. The enchiladas include beef brisket ($9.95) and pork shoulder ($9.95) options, and the tacos include fish ($8.95) and shrimp ($9.95) options.

The breakfast menu really cuts loose with items such as Spicy Salmon Cake Stacks ($9.95), where salmon cakes are placed on toasted English muffins and topped with poached eggs and chipotle hollandaise. Mexican French toast ($8.95) layers bananas and apples with goat's milk caramel and griddled challah French toast, and the Havana Breakfast places pork roast and Swiss on toasted baguette, with poached eggs and black pepper-asadero cheese sauce ($8.95). For the less adventurous, there are breakfast tacos and migas ($6.95). The prices are reasonable, the service excellent, and Sago boasts a full bar and specialty cocktails, as well.

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