Growing up 5 miles from the Mexican border, I like to think of myself as someone who knows and appreciates good Mexican food so when I got the call to cover the press dinner at the recently opened MesoMaya at Preston and Forest, I jumped at the chance. Any chance to taste Mexican food that is not from a chain, I am a go. So a quick jaunt over to Dallas to see what MesoMaya has to offer.
One of the more interesting features of MesoMaya is the indoor patio that has windows that can be raised to make the restaurant have an open feel. This will be wonderful when this weather finally breaks and fall begins and tonight was a good example of how open the restaurant could feel. After walking in, I was greeted with a very good strawberry serrano margarita. It was a sweet heat from the muddled fruits paired nicely with the tequila and lime. A great way to start a meal.
After sitting down, we saw the menu and there were 12 items for us to try. The starter of the meal was the ceviche mixto, a simple but delicious mix of shrimp and fish “cooked” in lime juice with tomato, cilantro, onions and avocado. The lime provided a tart, acidic bite that worked particularly well with the sweetness of the shrimp and the bite of the onion. For $9, this was big enough for 4 people to share.
The next course that really caught my attention was the sopa de frijol, a warming black bean soup with chayote, cilantro, tomato, spinach and masa balls. As I ate the bowl, I could only think about how good this soup will be come winter. Is it just me or has the slight weather change gone straight to my head?
My favorite course was the Budin Azteca de Camaron, a sort of Mexican lasagna with layers of tortillas topped with shrimp in a roasted tomatillo sauce. Slightly smoky and tart, the sauce brought out the sweetness of the shrimp and really elevated this to something beyond the description on the menu.
If you love mesquite-grilled beef, the carne asada is worth the trip. A large strip steak is marinated and cooked over the wood fire grill, imparting a smoky taste and texture that was divine. It was also served with a sweet corn tamale to brighten and enhance the flavor of the smoke. Delicious. This was a favorite of many at the table I was sitting at.
While waiting for the mole, I also had a chance to try something a little different – Avocado margarita. I know what you are thinking, either that it sounds delicious or absolutely disgusting. Well, all I can say is that it reminded me of fresh cut avocados with lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. It was so creamy that you could not tell that there was some alcohol in it. Dangerous and delicious in my book.
I am a sucker for mole. I have had several different versions and MesoMaya has one of the better interpretations not from someone’s house. It was rich, earthy, nutty and bitter like all good moles should be. A grilled piece of chicken added a smoky element but for me it was all about the sauce.
For dessert, chef Nico Sanchez decided to change things up and served us his crepe con cajeta, a buttermilk crepe served in a goat cheese caramel with caramelized plantains, pecans and vanilla ice cream. This was my kind of dessert because it was not too sweet. What sweetness was present was balanced by the tartness of the goat cheese and that tangy flavor you get from buttermilk. Mexican restaurants are not known for their dessert outside of flan but this might lead to some changes.
I can say unequivocally that everyone should give MesoMaya a try, especially when the weather cools down a bit and we need some spicy food and a comfortable seat indoors that feels like a patio. I can still taste the Budin…
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