First Look

A First Look at Meso Maya, the Latest Addition to Dallas' Actually-Mexican-Mex Scene

Meso Maya, the new Mexican restaurant at Preston and Forrest, describes its food as an "adventure into the roots of regional Mexican food." Don't let that scare you off, though. No, the plates aren't covered in melted orange cheese, but I think we can agree Dallas has already got that covered. Besides, as Scott pointed out last week, we're having a Mexican-Mex moment.

I asked Chef Nico Sanchez about the "regional" aspect of his menu.

"Each state in Mexico takes pride in its own dishes, and they don't really cross over much," Sanchez explained. So, the menu is a nod toward these different foods produced in the various regions of Mexico.

When Meso Maya moved into this spot, the owners tore down a wall near the entrance, which filled the large dining room with natural light. They also created an open kitchen on the north side of the restaurant that allows diners to watch Chef Nico and his crew work. And deep semi-circle booths lined along the opposite wall allows patrons to take it all in.

Scott will obviously have a full take on the spot at some point. What I noticed most, though, when I ate there earlier this week were the servers. They bring the adventurous menu full circle. Questions are confidently answered; suggestions are eagerly made. Every server is savvy and experienced with the food, which in itself is inviting.

One of the stand-out dishes is the Budin Azteca, which has layers of fresh tortillas with a roasted tomatillo sauce, Mexican cheese and comes with either chicken, shrimp or marinated pork.

There are also plenty of familiar dishes on the menu, including street tacos and enchiladas, so the experience won't be too exotic for refined Tex-Mex palates. But even these standards still offer a little adventure. For example, the carne asada plate ($18 and enough for two) has a wood-roasted, marinated steak with a sweet corn tamale, queso fresco, crema (a Mexican cream) and fire roasted salsa.

They're open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and are located at 11909 Preston Road. Visit their website for more particulars.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.

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