#139 - Meso Maya, Dallas TX

Saturday in Dallas on a gorgeous spring day?  Calls for an afternoon at the Truck Yard of course!  But we were kind of confused as to why the demographic was so much younger than it had been the last couple times.  And then we realized--school is in session.  And we had been transported to what can only be described as a big outdoor frat party.  Lesson learned... only go when school is out of session.  But we didn't let it stop our fun or keep us from spending a few hours there.  And luckily we got a table in the shade so we weren't melting.

Eventually we were hungry for some dinner.  We had gotten snacks from the Jack's Chow Hound food truck earlier, but that wasn't going to be enough to satisfy us. Both Tony and Joni checked out restaurants nearby that were on restaurant.com, but nothing jumped out at them.  I put them in charge since they know the area better.  They picked Meso Maya.  It's downtown, not too far from Truck Yard and right next door to El Fenix.  Come to find out it's owned by the same company.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed because I hear so many good things about El Fenix and am really excited to try it, but I also knew to trust Tony to make good dining decisions. The restaurant is pretty big, with a bar area, some bar seating, a large main dining room split into 3 sections, and a large outdoor patio.  The patio looks awesome, and I'm sure it's the place to be on a warm spring or fall day. 

It was packed when we arrived and we had a little while to wait for our table, so we sat at the bar and watched the bartenders work their magic.  I absolutely love the bottle sculpture in the center of the bar. Couldn't tell if it was a sand sculpture or not, but it was really cool and extremely detailed. And it was 3D, with all the crevices and grooves of the labels.  

We only had to wait about 15 minutes for our table, which on a Saturday night in downtown Dallas really isn't bad. We were seated in a booth in one of the main dining areas. The menu is large, but not overwhelming. The first thing that arrived was chips & salsa.

My initial disappointment in not getting El Fenix was fixed by one bite.  The chips were so good. Warm, thick cut, nice and salty. And more of a whole grain chip than you would normally get at a Mexican restaurant. The salsa was excellent. It was very chunky, which was great for scooping with the chips. I'm not sure what they make their salsa with, but the color is much darker and the flavor much more intense than I've ever had. It also had a kick, but not bad.

We discussed guacamole or queso, and went with queso fundido 
Three white cheeses, roasted poblano rajas, grilled onions, dry oregano,
housemade corn tortillas served with your choice of vegetables or pork chorizo
This was excellent. Rich & creamy, very flavorful. It comes with corn tortillas, and those were good too. Homemade of course. And since they were hot I had to put butter on them. Melted butter on homemade corn tortillas?  There's nothing like it.

As usual, I had a really hard time deciding what to get.  It all sounded delicious, and so many of the dishes were very unique.  I finally decided on the budin azteca with beef tenderloin, because our server raved about it

Housemade white corn tortillas layered with melted chihuahua cheese, monterey jack, queso asadero
Carne: seared beef tenderloin cubes, gold potatoes, black beans, arugula, queso fresco, red chili guajillo sauce
This dish was absolutely fantastic.  The layered tortillas were very much like a cheese lasagna.  At first I thought the meat or fish add-ons would be part of it, like Italian lasagna. But it was separate, and I really kind of liked it better.  This way there were distinct textures, not all mixed in together.  The meat was slightly overcooked, but that was the only negative. The sauce had so much flavor.  I made sure to sop up every single bite.  

Our server asked about dessert, but there was no way we could eat more.  I was absolutely stuffed.   So we decided to be good and pass on that.

Will I go back?  No question.  The food was fantastic, I really loved the atmosphere, and the service was excellent.  And next time I want to eat out on the patio.