Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mesa Rosa - An Austin Original

Mesa Rosa - An Austin Original, I took my son over to our favorite tex-mex joint last night. I hadn’t seen him in a while (he’s 26 and lives with his girlfriend) and wanted to catch up. Of course, when getting together with Charles, it has to involve food, video games, movies or a combination of these. Mesa Rosa is one of Charlie’s favorite restaurants. Mesa Rosa is an Austin original. It has 4 restaurants in its chain (2 in RR), but the one I ALWAYS go to and highly recommend is the one on 620 in Round Rock. I’ve heard/read a lot of bad reviews concerning Mesa Rosa, but they don’t apply to one on 620.

Mesa Rosa 620 is unique in every way. Not only is the atmosphere very Austin Tex-Mex but the food is homemade and the staff is consistently good. I absolutely LOVE their guacamole and have been trying to wheedle the recipe from them for years. They will only tell me that it is not made until it’s ordered, and I can attest that it is FRESH every time. They do not use a food processor to make it either, the avocado is scooped out then sliced then crushed when mixing in other ingredients.

But DON’T confuse the guacamole with the guacamole dip. They are two very different things. And the guacamole dip is just as bad as the guacamole is good. I tried it once and there is WAY too much lime (they use a whole lime for every order), tomatoes and onions in it. I spoke to the manager and she agreed that it is not a favorite, but the owners like to experiment and there are standing orders to make it exactly according to the recipe. You CAN however order just the guacamole, a scoop or 3 scoops and use it as a dip for chips. You can also order it to smother your enchiladas with too.

Last night I got there a little early and took some pictures so that you, my reader, can see how neat this place is. At 6:40 the parking lot was already full, on a Wednesday! But when I checked in with Jessica, the hostess, I found the wait was only 15 minutes. It would have been less, but the weather was blustery so they weren’t seating on the patio. While I was waiting, Jessica struck up a conversation with me about our favorite foods there. That’s the type of friendly atmosphere I always encounter.

Once I was seated, it was less than 5 minutes before I had my lemon iced water, complimentary chips, red and green salsas. Both salsas are very good and I highly recommend you try them, even if you aren’t fond of either. Because of the acidity in tomatoes and tomatillos, most salsas are either canned in jars or take on a metallic taste, but Mesa Rosa makes their salsa fresh daily and they are never put in a can. You get that fresh made taste!

My son Charles finally arrived and Marcus, our server, came over shortly after and took my son’s drink order and our choice of appetizer. We of course ordered the Rosa Dip. Rosa Dip is made with chicken broth, cheese and other secret ingredients, with a scoop of spiced ground beef and a scoop of guacamole. It is amazing. You wouldn’t think so, but it is WAY better than a regular chili con queso. The Rosa Dip quickly arrived with a refill of homemade tortilla chips, and Marcus took our dinner order.

My son and I chatted and caught up on all the news while waiting for our dinner. Well, sort of…lol. He has a smart phone and kept interrupting the conversation to text with someone. I took the time while he was busy texting to take some pictures for you of the patio and yard. They have done a lot with it this last year. That’s one of the things I like about this particular restaurant. I’ve been coming here for about 7 years. It started out as a renovated house off the highway and grew from there. And they kept that home charm. Room tumbles into room, with huge plate windows so you can admire the patio and yard, even on bad or too hot days. They have a great tumbling waterfall back there and the space is big enough for any type of event. It’s not uncommon for them to host wedding receptions back there.

Back at my table Charlie and I chatted more and dinner arrived. I know my favorites so I decided to try something new. Again, that is something neat about Mesa Rosa, they are always introducing something new, but they keep the old favorites, sort of like comfort food. So I tried the Pescado Rosa which is so new you won’t find it on the online menu. It is a Tilapia filet hand-battered with fresh corn tortilla chips, lightly fried and smothered in your choice of sauce with sides of rice and black beans. They allow substitutions, which I did. I replaced the rice with refried beans. My son ordered an old favorite of his, the Border Melt. Chargrilled beef and sautéed pico de gallo smothered with Monterey jack with sides of rice, refried beans and homemade flour tortillas. He substituted the refried beans with an extra helping or rice.

My Tilapia was so crispy on the outside, and very juicy and flakey on the inside, absolutely scrumptious. I probably should have had a different sauce though, the suzia sauce is a sour cream sauce but it was too sweet, next time I’ll go with the queso which is what they suggest. I mixed up the beans and used them for chip dip. Lol, I also stole one of my son’s tortillas and wrapped up some of my fish, some of the lettuce and tomato garnish and had a taco. It all was very good.

Charlie’s Border Melt was delicious too. The beef was fajita meat, just cut wider, sort of like steak. He sliced it up, put it, rice and cheese in a tortilla for his own version of a fajita. Yum, I had a bite and it was good. Our server, Marcus was fairly attentive; it was difficult for him because he had two large parties he was responsible for as well. My glass was never empty and our chip dish was regularly filled.

Charles and I sat for another hour visiting and laughing with no staff trying to hurry us out. We had a great visit, at one of our favorite places, with good food in a warm and friendly atmosphere. However, be warned, it is noisy. When I mean warm and friendly, I mean just that. People bring their kids, have parties, and generally laugh a lot. People often come here for office parties, birthday parties (for both kids and adults), and general get-togethers. It’s not uncommon to hear the staff singing a tex-mex happy birthday twice or more in an evening.

Also be warned, that there ARE some foods that may not agree with you. I am not a jalapeno eater and I have to be careful what I order. But I think if you are in the area, or want a taste of a true Austin original you should stop at the Mesa Rosa 620 for a bite.

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