He's the owner of Sabor Bustaurant, a new food truck that will debut at The Lot on Coxe Avenue on Thursday, Dec. 6.
As its name suggests, the Sabor Bustaurant serves Latin American eats from a school bus that Martinez converted into a mobile restaurant. To order, board the bus — just like in elementary school — and walk up to the counter, which divides the bus into two sections: an open kitchen and a waiting area with seating to keep customers warm and dry during bad weather. “I really like the interaction with the people and letting people see what we're doing, how we're doing it, talking to them while we're doing it,” Martinez says.
Sabor's menu boasts Cuban sandwiches and burgers, soups and entrees that Martinez has converted from plated fare to street food. “Something … that would typically be served on a plate, I would take it and serve it using banana leaves, still inside of a to-go container but make it more portable and easy to eat on the go," says Martinez, who notes that Sabor won't be limited to "what you would expect to see as street food."
Dishes on the menu will rotate, but right now, there's a quinoa salad with grilled vegetables, anticuchos — skewered, marinated, grilled skirt steak served over grilled potatoes with chimichurri sauce — sweet fried plantains, or maduros, and Ajiaco — a Colombian-style potato soup with pulled chicken, sweet corn, capers and avocado.
Martinez's family is from Nicaragua, but he jokes that he got his sabor in Miami where he grew up. He came to North Carolina to work in the kitchen at Lake Toxaway Country Club. In the mid-90s, he owned Vinnie Spaglioni's in Brevard, which served a mash-up of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American cuisine.
Last year, he graduated from A-B Tech with a culinary arts degree. The idea for the bustaurant germinated during his studies, and he's been working on the project since early summer.
Martinez says he's excited about joining the other food trucks at The Lot and says he's been welcomed into the tight-knit group. While he's armed with his degree, he says he doesn't think it gives him an advantage in the food truck world. “This is a whole new animal,” he says. “It's not the same as a brick and mortar.”
Beginning Dec. 6, Sabor Bustaurant will be at The Lot on Thursdays for lunch and Fridays for lunch and dinner. Eventually, Martinez hopes to expand to other locations, including a possible spot in South Asheville. For more information, visit Sabor on Facebook, at saborbus.com, or Twitter at @saborbus.
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