The Vasquez family already had established their Someburros restaurants in the Valley, growing from one Tempe restaurant in 1986 to 16 today, when the idea for something else came to them: a neighborhood cafe.

With that cafe, owner Tim Vasquez said the family wanted to honor their grandmother Isabel, whose recipes were used to start Someburros, but who died just a couple months before the first one opened.

“I’ve always just had a special place in my heart and appreciation for her,” Vasquez said. “So that’s when we decided [to] open a little bit more of an upscale Mexican food place. We found an old, tattered recipe book with her recipes in it, things that aren’t on the menu at Someburros. We kind of recreated those.”

Add in a craft cocktail menu and a little space at Val Vista Drive and Williams Field Road with a patio, and Isabel’s Amor opened in November 2013.

Vasquez called Isabel an amazing lady known for her work ethic and cooking. Her dream was to open a restaurant, which she and her husband did in 1972 with Poncho’s in south Phoenix.

“She just cooked with her heart,” Vasquez said. “We have a saying here: ‘En esta casa, todo esta hecho con amor,’ which means, ‘In this house, everything is made or done with love.’ And we took that from her because that’s the way she lived her life.”

Vasquez said he wants staff to treat every customer as if they are family or a friend dining in their house. He welcomes it being the place to go for a girls night out or after a Little League game or for buddies coming off the golf course.

“Those are super nostalgic moments,” Vasquez said, recalling memories from his own childhood. “And sometimes when I eat the food, it takes me back there, and that’s what’s amazing about food, how it can just trigger those emotions like that.”

When a bakery shop next door went out of business in the pandemic, Vasquez expanded last year with needed additional kitchen and dining space. But despite being in a high-traffic area, its location tucked back from the street keeps it something of a secret, he said.

“I think it’s a little hidden gem in the area,” he said. “Usually only people know about it because they’ve had friends that have come here and enjoyed it. But I love it.”

Isabel’s Amor

1490 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert


Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.,

Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.