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Spanish tapas spot Sabores opens on Columbia Pike, replacing Taqueria el Pablano

A new Spanish tapas restaurant has opened on Columbia Pike, filling the void left by a well-liked Mexican restaurant.

Sabores started serving “Spanish tapas with a Latin flair” this past weekend at 2401 Columbia Pike, co-owner Alex López told ARLnow. It’s in the large storefront at the corner of S. Adams Street where Taqueria el Poblano was for about a decade before closing last year.

For the moment, Sabores is only serving dinner but will extend to lunch and “hopefully” breakfast soon as well.

This is López’s first restaurant, having opened the eatery with two long-time co-workers, Carlos Olarte and Ernesto Valenzuela. They all previously worked together at a Brazilian steakhouse in Fairfax as well as Jaleo in Crystal City, which was owned by José Andrés but closed in 2021.

“We loved the concept of sharing plates and gathering with family,” López said about how the famed chef inspired them to open their own restaurant. “We want to make sure people are having a good time.”

He and his partners made the decision to open their own restaurant last year and found this space in the Penrose neighborhood.

“We are excited about the neighborhood. South Arlington has a lot of potential and we want to invest in it,” López said.

He noted how much help and support they got from the Columbia Pike Partnership, which assisted the new owners in navigating the county permitting process. López also said that the space’s previous tenants also helped with the switch and were “great” to them.

López is Colombian with his partners from other South American countries. The menu at Sabores reflects that with “cuisine [from] the different regions of Spain and the diversity of dishes of all Latin American countries,” per the restaurant’s website.

He’s learned a lot as a first-time restaurant owner, but already feels supported by the neighborhood.

“Things don’t go your way all the time, but you got to keep pushing and trying,” López said. “Luckily, we are in this community and have gotten a lot of help.”

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