Today: Apr 14, 2024

Food musing and restaurant cruising: Mezcal

Samantha Arbuckle, Special to Southern News-

As I parked my Ford Taurus, I stepped out onto an icy four-foot stack of snow. After brushing off my jeans, I turned the corner to see a little tan building with blue block lettering spelling out “MEZCAL.”

Ricardo Trejo opened this authentic Mexican restaurant in Feb. 2006–the place was always busy and never seemed to disappoint its customers. All the hype that surrounded this hole-in-the-wall eatery on Yelp.com drew me to throw on my coat, jump in my car and type 14 Mechanic St. into my GPS.

My first instinct was pleasing because every foodie knows not to judge a book by its cover; you find the most authentic cuisine in hole-in-the-wall establishments, especially if you reside in the city.

Anyways, I walked up a long hall and turned the corner.

“Pick a seat anywhere,” said one of the two waiters that were working. As my boyfriend and I made our way to our table that was lit up by one tiny candle, we were immediately bombarded with all types of Mexican décor.

The floor was wooden and the walls were painted a dark orange with hints of yellow. Looking up at the ceiling, I saw multi-colored streamers that hung from wall to wall. There was piñatas, beer memorabilia, Mexican paintings and flags all over the place.

While I was looking through the menu, our friendly waiter came over with a bowl of steaming hot tortilla chips and an unusual looking salsa. Now, I’m not one to judge but honestly, we both looked at each other with concern–looking down into the clay bowl I saw little seeds in a dark green liquid. We dipped chips and started to chow down–the salsa itself was spicy but had a really fresh flavor. The main ingredient I look for in salsa is fresh cilantro; I smell it the second it came to the table and immediately got excited to pick a dish.

The menu itself looked like it was homemade. Printed out pages that were held together by lamination were conveniently placed in order by types of courses and meats.

The drink list was short enough to make it easy to pick, lots of different types of Mexican beers and all sorts of tequila drinks. My boyfriend ordered an original margarita, on the rocks with salt. He was extremely impressed with the amount authenticity of the mix, a perfect blend of lime, tequila and salt left him satisfied and a tad tipsy.

It took me a while to pick what I wanted, but as I looked around the room that was fully packed with a diverse mix of people- everyone seemed to have a huge heapings of food on their plate.

To begin, we ordered nachos #3. Tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, pico di gallo, cheese, pulled pork and jalapeños. I’m not one to gas a place up, but these were literally the best nachos I ever had- and at only $9, you really couldn’t get any better.

When they came to the table my mouth dropped because of the portion size, the amount of guacamole on the chips had me grinning from ear to ear (I’m a sucker for avocado). When I took the first bite I piled the chip with everything- the creaminess of the guacamole and sour cream paired with the bite of jalapenos and smokiness of the tender pork put me in a state of euphoria, mind you this whole time, my boyfriend wasn’t saying a word. We didn’t even look up at each other until out next dish came out.

Tostados Tinga, a fried tortilla shell underneath shredded chicken sautéed with onions- covered in a chipotle pepper sauce. On top was lettuce, sour cream and a sliver of avocado. First bite was awesome, just like the nachos- all of the different textures at once were extremely pleasing. Fresh chipotles have a sweet after taste, which went well with the crunchy lettuce. The only thing I didn’t like about this dish was the spiciness, it had too much kick and the water they gave us had no ice (seriously? I thought this was so weird).

Overall, this place was awesome. With dishes priced from $10-$15 and guaranteed leftovers, you honestly can’t go wrong. The atmosphere is soothing and peaceful, it’s quiet enough to bring your lady/man friend, yet upbeat enough to chill with a group of friends over beers and nachos.

4.5 Stars

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