Teaching an Old Bar New Tricks: Dolores Mexican Restaurant


The Short Course
1. Kid-friendly: Yes.
2. To avoid wait: Come for lunch or an early dinner.
3. Noise level: Low.
4. Bathroom amenities: Changing table.
5. High chairs? Yes.
6. Got milk? Yes.
7. Kids’ menu? Yes.
8. Anything healthy for kids? Yes.
9. Food allergy concerns? Many items are gluten free.

After years of extensive renovations, Ypsilanti’s former Elbow Room has found new life as Dolores Mexican Restaurant. The interior décor is warm and welcoming and the simple design seems to be a theme which carries through not only the space, but also the food. We especially loved the large works of art and the awesome tiled floor, while big picture windows with large sills gave the kids a fun place to sit while waiting.

Kids Quesadilla

Kids Quesadilla

Expanding little palates

The menu offered a large variety of Mexican options, some familiar and some more adventurous. Overall the food is simple and fresh, which we found authentic and a noticeable change from the excess cheese and sauce that characterizes some Mexican-inspired eateries.

We started with chips, the salsa trio ($3.50), and guacamole ($6). The salsas were wide-ranging with the ‘mild’ appropriate for little ones and the ‘hot salsa verde’ pushing the limits for the adults. The guacamole was creamy and flavorful without much added spice so the kids, and adults, gobbled it up. The homemade chips were exceptional – fresh, salty, and crunchy- a free refill after the first batch was much appreciated. We also tried out two orders of the street fruit ($4) – pineapple, oranges and cucumber served with lime and house-made chili powder – one order we requested the chili powder be served on the side. The kids enjoyed the presentation and found the spear-shaped fruit to be fun and easy to eat.

Dolores has only one kid’s menu selection (quesadilla with beans and orange slices, $4) but we found that our kids were happy to share from plates ordered for the family. Adventurous kids will be rewarded if they try out the kids aqua de horchata ($1.50). Fun for kids to say, this cinnamon flavored rice milk is a refreshing treat that reminded everyone of the milk that’s left in the bowl when you finish Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Ten different types of tacos are served three per order for $4-$9 and provide a great way to sample a variety of flavors. Our family favorite was the carne asada ($9) – the corn tortilla was fresh and hot; the steak was juicy, citrusy, and charred with fresh sprinkled cilantro. The combination of flavors had our 5-year old asking for another order with cilantro! The cauliflower al pastor tacos ($7) were an interesting vegetarian take on the pork-based staple and the cauliflower handled the chile-spice blend, common to al pastor, better than this family of omnivores expected. The rajas con elote quesadilla ($6) – corn, roasted poblano peppers, onion and sour cream wrapped in a fresh tortilla— allowed the roasted poblano to really shine. We also tasted the mushroom ceviche tostada ($3.50) which featured fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, and large slices of avocado on a crispy shell.


For dessert, we tried the flan ($5) and churros with Nutella ($4). Both dishes were easy to share and a sweet way to end a fantastic meal.

A new family favorite

Later in the evening, Dolores has much more of a cocktail bar vibe, but we found that outside of prime party hours, this is an exceptional place for a family to get a fun and tasty meal, that can help your kids stretch beyond their eating comfort zones (but not too far!). With a cozy atmosphere, plenty of room for families to relax and simple, good food, this is one of our new favorite places to get a bite to eat.