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Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant

This entry is part of a series, Austin Scene»

Mesa Rosa

When my wife and I moved back to the Republic after completing our “missionary work” (four years in purgatory proselytizing to the heathens in the wilderness of Michigan, up near Santa’s house somewhere), we lived for a short while way out northwest of the city. We were actually in Williamson County, and a long drive from wifey’s work. Gas was cheap back then, remember?

There was a clear upside to living “in the sticks,” as it were. The Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant was nearby! They got their start about the time we got settled, and it was clear these folks were gung-ho about food and service. Their Tex-Mex dishes became the standard in the area in short order. (Get it? Short Order??)

We moved away after a year, but the trusty Mesa Rosa has followed us around. (That’s my story, anyway.) They now have three great restaurants; besides the original location, they’re in Round Rock and up on FM 620.

The Round Rock store resides in a location that has, for some reason, been tough on restaurants. Even Pancho’s Mexican Buffet couldn’t make it there. Mesa Rosa, though, is thriving. I guess good food and great service will keep them coming, eh?

And these folks do make great Tex-Mex!

Guacamole

I slipped my leash was out doing chores the other afternoon and found myself by my personal favorite of their three locations, the one on FM 620. It’s a big place, well decorated, and unlike many restaurants, on a nice, big plot of land sorta “in the country.”. They’ve landscaped well, and they use the extra space to have plenty of outside seating. I don’t know how many they can seat at once; the place is huge, with a big bar (which I consider a must-have in a Tex-Mex place).

I especially like this location as it’s the only Mesa Rosa that opens early: 10:30, to be exact. I’m often up by four and by ten I’m starving. These folks know how to feed the need! As I walked in I could smell their award-winning salsa and I knew I’d made the right choice for lunch. The greeter (too friendly to be a maitre d’) gave me a knowing smile; I guess she’s used to that “I’ve just been stunned with a ball bat” look diners show when that wonderful aroma hits them. She led me docilely to a booth and made sure I had napkins aplenty for drool control.

My server was out in seconds, chips and salsa in hand. She left me in silence as I worshiped at the altar dug into the deep-red, chunky salsa with the biggest chip in the bin. I was in such a hurry I nearly damaged myself permanently; but I think the fingers will heal back. I was in heaven!

Mesa Rosa has plenty of great appetizers. Check out their Flamitos, bits of chicken stuffed with jalapeño and wrapped with bacon. They also have all the classics, from Nachos to Quesadillas to Guacamole. Any will kick-start a meal satisfactorily.

The menu shows about a dozen “Traditional” entrées. That’s Tex-Mex traditional, of course! Burritos, Chimichangas, Flautas and Flaquitos, Tamales and Carne Guisada, and naturally, Chile Rellenos.

Mesa Rosa is renowned for their enchiladas. There are several restaurants in the Austin area that make great enchilada combos; Mesa Rosa’s got them all beaten sideways, in my opinion. They don’t go for strange or silly ingredients; from their Enchiladas Traditionales to Guacamole Enchiladas, they’re full of fresh, authentic fixin’s and bursting with flavor.

Any Tex-Mex place worthy of the label will have Fajitas. (It doesn’t matter that Mama Ninfa (God’s Rest, Mama) claimed to have invented this dish, it’s now so established as fundamental Tex-Mex nobody much cares about the history.) They also serve tasty Pechugas of several types, and a few unique plates like the Border Melt, fajitas without the flapjacks.

I wasn’t in the mood for anything but a Burrito Grande, an overstuffed tortilla full of beef fajita strips and other goodies and lovingly smothered in chili gravy. By the time they brought out my meal they were beginning to run a chips-and-salsa relay to my booth, and even the manager was inquiring politely, making sure I wasn’t stuffing them all in a big carry bag or something. I slowed down on the starters and dug in on the entrée. And nearly burned my mouth off.

So I waited a bit for that luscious, tempting tube of nourishment to cool a bit, and ate some more salsa. Washed down with plenty of freshly brewed, not powdered, iced tea. By the time I got around that monster burrito (so big they should call it a burro, but that’s something else entirely) I was so full I almost had to ask for help getting out of the booth. On the waddle way out I had to stick out an arm to see if I was walking or rolling.

It was worth it. I didn’t get hardly anything done all afternoon, but I was smiling when wifey got home. (Yes, it made her suspicious.)

You’ll smile too, if you eat at Mesa Rosa’s Mexican Restaurant. Take the whole family, they’ve got a friendly atmosphere and a full kid’s menu! Don’t let the little beggars pick off of your plate, though; make them get their own.

I give Mesa Rosa a roasted-hot Nine Chiles (out of Ten) for their tasty food and friendly service. (And the salsa, of course). Give them a try when you’re in the area. Even if it’s just to drink a margarita and eat chips and salsa…

Mesa Rosa on Urbanspoon

Enjoy the (Red Table) Heat!

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Entries in this series:
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  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
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  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
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  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
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  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
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3 comments to Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant

  • [...] Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant — It Doesn’t Get Any Hotter …I give Mesa Rosa a roasted-hot Nine Chiles (out of Ten) for their tasty food and friendly service. (And the salsa, of course). Give them a try when you’re in the area. Even if it’s just to drink a margarita and eat chips and salsa… … [...]

  • I live near there in Brushy Creek! No foodie should eat at Mesa Rosa without first giving me a buzz!…Not at 10:30 a.m., though!…Texican and Serranos are also in the area and are equally good.

    (I’m an Oxford English Dictionary contributor who found the earliest cite for “Tex-Mex” food.)

  • Barry, maybe I’ll holler before I go next time! Personally, I enjoy Mesa Rosa just the teensiest bit more than Texican; Serrano’s up that way I don’t know about, used to eat in various Serrano’s all over town.

    Until the one in Hancock Center got bad, then closed. That was a favorite place to meet wifey for lunch…