Yerba is muy Buena
BY CAMERON TEANEY ON April 17, 2014
Seven months ago, the seemingly ever-changing venue on the corner of Greenville Boulevard and Hooker welcomed its new restaurant, Yerba Buena Latin Grill and Bar. Previously home to the Mexican restaurant Los Charros and several other restaurants before that, the cursed spot between Hooter’s and Applebee’s has had difficulty keeping restaurants in business. The location’s less than impressive history initially turned me off, but the building’s new and promising renovations convinced me to give it a try.
Walking into Yerba Buena, I was met with kind service and fairly elegant decor, notably the marble countertops at the bar. Shortly after being seated, a tray of Latin-prepared potato slices, similar to American potato chips, was brought to the table. It was served with Colombian Criolla sauce, which is a chunky, tomato based mixture, heavily influenced by cilantro. While this appetizer was different than the typical chips and salsa served at most Mexican restaurants, it was not much to brag about. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Yerba Buena stayed true to its claim by offering a variety of entrees that represented many different places in Latin America. I ordered the Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish composed of seasoned beef tenderloin strips, vegetables and fried potato wedges. This meal was pretty stellar; the meat was juicy, the flavors were poignant and it honestly felt like a dance party was going on in my mouth. It was sauteed in Siyao sauce, which added a richer, saltier, and somewhat spicier (but not too spicy) taste to the food, giving it more of an authentic Latin flair. The potatoes were the most delicious element of the meal; they were similar in texture to Bojangles’ fries but were cut in thinner slices and had a crispier shell. I also tried some of the chicken and steak fajitas-for-two my parents ordered. While the meat was well cooked, it was not very seasoned, especially compared to the dish I ordered.
Overall, I give Yerba Buena a seven out of ten. While the food was delicious for the most part, some dishes were more flavorful than others, an issue that can probably be resolved through a few menu adjustments. Additionally, though the service was friendly, it took quite some time to receive the bill for the meal. However, the positives of the restaurant overshadow the negatives. The atmosphere is nice, the food is reasonably priced and the portions were not too big. I also appreciated the uniqueness of Yerba Buena; it did not just provide Mexican cuisine, but served foods from countries all around Latin America. Yerba Buena seems to have taken the necessary steps (shown through the new decor and variety of Latin food options) to be successful in the long run and beat the curse of its location.