by Melissa Robert
Mexican food can mean something different to everyone here in North Texas. Don’t worry, I’m far too fearful of the comments that would ensue if I spent anytime discussing the differences between “Mexican food” and Tex-Mex, so we’ll save that for another day. It seems that we all have a different way to judge the quality of Mexican food. I’d like to say I am able to tell pretty quickly how I’ll get along with a new spot by their salsa, while others claim it’s the house margarita or even the enchiladas that set the tone. If you score a table at Meso Maya in the near future get ready to taste Mexican food differently, the Southern Mexican cuisine is a welcomed addition to the McKinney Avenue landscape.
On the third night of being open, Meso Maya’s second location was operating like a well-oiled machine. The chips and salsa arrived quickly, and for the record, the salsa was very flavorful and I appreciated the chips were served as strips; important if the thought of your chip not fitting into your salsa bowl has crossed your mind as well. Marcos, our server was wonderful. He suggested we start with some cocktails; we tried the Avocado Margarita and the Mexican Mule. Based on these suggestions it is apparent to me that Marcos is a wise wise man.
Appetizers, much like the rest of the menu, were a pleasurable mix of the familiar and the adventurous. The Chicharrones were sensational. The crunchy pork corn chip alternative was the perfect method of transportation for the brisket topped queso poblano. The guacamole and ceviche are sure to be crowd favorites. If you’re looking for something uniquely Meso, be sure to try the Molotes. Potato, chorizo and Monterey jack cheese are encased in blue corn masa atop salsa verde. This was the perfect transition into our next course, and as Meso Maya puts it, “A culinary adventure into the fresh, bold, & earthy flavors of authentic interior Mexican cuisine.”
The Salmon Mercado salad is one of many memorable options on the soup and salad portion of the menú; that’s Spanish for menu. There is a generous assortment of enchiladas and tacos served with white rice and black beans. Tacos are served with habanero sauce. If you enjoy extra spice in your life, a dot of this will do the trick. The next course continued what had consistently been a passionate rendering of Southern Mexican fare. The Pato al Pasilla was a surprising dish as duck is not the first thing that comes to mind when selecting from a Mexican menu.
I’m glad I took the chance; the duck was fantastic. The delicately sliced protein was cooked perfectly and was quite savory. The smoky dark pasilla broth, a recurring facet in the Meso Maya menu, was the earthy element that left me wanting more.
Favorite dish of the night goes to the Chile Relleno. Much like so many other choices at Meso, the name doesn’t quite do this plate justice. The Chile Relleno is stuffed with a mild creamy cheese, though I hesitate to use the word stuffed considering it was filled with expert precision so as not to take away from the flavor of the pepper and the crisp fried exterior. Braised beef short ribs, potatoes and white rice created a flawless dichotomy.
Served in two different sauces, each aspect of the dish worked well on its own, and together may have even been greater than the sum of its parts. I’d go on and on about it but I’m sure you’ll be ordering it on your next visit.
As my friend and I sipped a Serrano Berry Margarita and a Mexican Mule from the cocktail menu a Modelo bottle hit the floor. This was wonderful in two ways. First, for all of you that were concerned, the beer was indeed empty. Second, much like the blessing bestowed by breaking a bottle over a ships bow, I knew Meso Maya was embarking on a promising road in this new location. And rest easy; no one was injured in the unofficial blessing.
Have you ever received a beautifully wrapped present without a bow? I didn’t think so. If you can’t choose between the dessert offerings go ahead and spring for two; you know that’s why they invented to-go boxes. The Caprirotada was fantástico, that’s Spanish for fantastic. The traditional Mexican style bread pudding was topped with lime cream cheese and drizzled with cajeta caramel.
The cake like bread pudding has this terrific contrast between the baked exterior and the moist interior. I’m not usually an a la mode type of gal but the Pastel de Moras must be the standard for which they set the bar. The blueberry cake is baked and served in a skillet, topped with Mexican vanilla ice cream and blueberry drizzle. Now you see why one dessert simply isn’t enough.
If you are looking for a more casual encounter, there’s a taco counter out back with your name on it. Actually, the name is La Ventana, and I was lucky enough to speak with Chef Nico Sanchez on this fun new concept behind Meso Maya. That story will be coming soon, until then be sure to check out the new Meso Maya at 1611 McKinney Avenue.