Our Rating  

Mesa Verde
618 Congress Street

Four 1/4 plates  
Mesa Verde Reviewed: Winter, 2000

Despite the obvious space, (a former retail store), Mesa Verde has a distinct Mexican feel to it, painted in bright colors and with good Spanish music playing on the sound system. The restaurant is decorated well, except for a couple cheap, pre-fab booths, which really stick out in the decor. For some reason, these booths really bothered me… until our food arrived, and I could think of nothing but putting more if it into my mouth.

We tango-ed our way to a table with "Buena Vista Social Club" groovin' from above. Our amiable waiter immediately delivered a basket of nacho chips and homemade salsa and gave us time to decide on a drink and appetizer. As every Mexican restaurant should, (but not always does), Mesa Verde has a good selection of Mexican cerveca. Along with the omnipresent Corona (and Corona Light), they offer Dos Equis, Negra Modelo, and Tecate. (They also have Pete's, Rolling Rock, and Sam Adams in bottles, as well as three wine selections by the glass). I asked for a Dos Equis, while my date chose to sample a margarita. The margarita was nothing to shake your maracas about, weak, and not made with fresh lime juice. Not only is Mesa Verde a Mexican restaurant, but it's a juice bar as well. We expected a much better margarita.

After seeing us scarf down ("scarf," a technical culinary term) one basket of chips and salsa, our waiter promptly brought another. Then arrived our Queso Fundido appetizer. Form a conga line behind this dish! Mild melted cheese with roasted peppers and herbs is served with warm tortillas for dunking, scraping, piling, and stuffing this incredible concoction into your mouth. Our waiter didn't hesitate to bring us more tortillas so we wouldn't leave a drop of cheese in the bowl.

Our entrees arrived while we were still accosting that bowl for Queso Fundido. My date chose the Spinach Mushroom Quesadilla, which was a generous size, and flavorful. I ordered a burrito, always a good gauge of a Mexican restaurant, and it was delicious. (From chicken, beef, tofu, veggies or just beans, I chose chicken.) The side dishes of organic rice and beans were not all that flavorful, which I've learned is somewhat in keeping with authentic Mexican food. It's up to the individual to add salsas, and hot sauces for flavor, but these rice and beans seemed more bland than they should be. The bottled hot sauces and homemade salsa were good, and spiced things up nicely.

Other appetizer selections included a hummus and veggie plate; nachos; and Mexican mushrooms sautéed with Mesa Verde's own seasoning and white wine ($5.95-6.25).

Fresh soup and chili (beef and vegetarian) are made daily ($2.25/cup, $3.73/bowl), and Mushroom miso was the soup of this day. Garden salad, rice salad, and taco salad are available with chicken, beef, or tofu ($3.75-$6.95).

Among the other entrée selections are: Tomales; Jaunita's Calabasitas, (yellow squash, zucchini, and mixed veggies sautéed with cheese, salsa and sour cream, served with warm tortillas); Steak Ranchero, (grilled NY sirloin in mole sauce, organic beans and rice, and veggies); Pollo con mole, (sautéed chicken in its own mole sauce, with guacamole); and Spicy Mexican Chicken, with rice, beans, tortillas, and guacamole ($10.50-12.50). The traditional Mexican fare of burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, and hard and soft tacos are all served with organic rice and beans ($5.95-$7.25).

wheelchair accessible
vegetarian selections
vegan selections
Most credit cards accepted
Mesa Verde also makes a variety of sandwiches, from grilled cheese to veggie, chicken, Mexican hummus, and grilled eggplant rollups, a veggie burger, and a tempeh reuben, (grilled tempeh with saur kraut and their own dairy-free sauce) ($6.25). And they offer a decent children's menu for those 12 and under: chicken tenders, cheese, and sliced apples; kid burrito, chicken beef, or tofu; cheese quesadilla with rice and sliced apples ($3.75).

Since we ate like pigs at dinner, we had no room for fruit smoothies or any other dessert. Next time. Although in other cities I've eaten at similar Mexican restaurants which were less expensive, our bill was still reasonable at $36.81, and we'll return to Mesa Verde, if for no other reason than their magical Queso Fundido.  back to the top

      Matt O'Donnell is a poet and freelance writer who lives in Portland.









site created by ad loc. design

Join our Mailing List!


Terms of Service  |  © Copyright 2005 All rights reserved.  |  site created by ad loc. design