I’m not normally one to state the obvious, but here it goes: nachos are great. Gooey cheese, crunchy tortilla chips… is it really all that surprising that combining two awesome classics produces even more awesomeness? I don’t think so, nor do I find it surprising that a strong, tart margarita enhances one’s nacho-eating experience either. At least, that’s what I discover during my visit to Isalita for happy hour.

The cozy East Liberty eatery offers a classy take on Mexican cuisine with dishes like pork belly tacos and truffle guacamole. Needless to say, it isn’t your cheapest option, but fear not, fellow frugal-folk, for I have great news: Isalita’s happy hour is pretty fabulous.

Every Tuesday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in the bar area, select drinks are offered at reduced prices, and each day has its own deal. For example: select tacos are $2 each on “Taco Tuesday,” and on Thursdays it’s all about $5 nachos. I decide to go on Thursday, because hello, nachos.

The frozen blood orange marg. Photo by Brooke Gabriel

We arrive at about 5:30 p.m. and are immediately seated at high-top tables in the bar area, where we’re greeted by a bartender. My friend and I both order the frozen blood orange margarita – normally $8, now just $5 – and my boyfriend gets a $4 casa margarita. After a few minutes, we’re all sipping sufficiently boozy drinks with just the right balance of sweet and sour.

The casa. Photo by Brooke Gabriel

And then… our carne nachos show up (!!). Salty, house-made tortilla chips topped with tender skirt steak, melted cheese, diced tomatoes and a generous helping of jalapeños. Our mouths venture so deep in Mexican-food heaven, we decide, nay, need to place a second order. To top it off, the subtle sweetness in our drinks pair beautifully with the salty, savory nachos. Only criticism? The jalapeños are a bit strong a couple bites in – though I imagine those with tougher palates would disagree with me.


Photo by Brooke Gabriel

While the nachos are definitely the highlight, Isalita’s service is none too shabby. The bartender is both amiable and attentive, even extending our happy-hour prices a few minutes so my friends and I can order another round. Awesome.

I will definitely be back to check out the deals on other days, though it’s hard to imagine that they’ll top skirt-steak nachos at a bargain price. But if anything can, I’m guessing it’s pork belly tacos for $2, right?


Address: 341A E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, MI

Hours of operation: Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Thursday: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Sunday: 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Happy Hour: Sunday-Friday (in the bar area): 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday (at the bar rail): 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.