When the Addison location of El Fenix closed in the summer of 2017, it left behind the sad shell of a former Tex-Mex kingdom. Gone were the smell of chips fresh from the fryer and El Fenix’s nuclear-cheese backbone.
But before long, that sad shell started to take shape once more. Firebird Restaurant Group — the company behind the El Fenix chain — started work on rehabbing the space for a new outpost of Meso Maya. The seventh, in fact. Over the years, Meso Maya has strived to create dining experiences that elevate traditional Mexican cuisine while staying true to its roots. Its success owes a great debt to chef Nico Sanchez, who supervises the culinary program for each Meso Maya location.
We’ve tasted Sanchez’ handiwork as part the Dallas Observer’s Morning After brunch event, but with the Addison location newly opened, this seemed the perfect opportunity to see what Meso Maya’s full brunch service really had to offer.
For starters, there are some wallet-friendly drink options. Mimosas, a simperingly sweet red sangria and bloody marys are all $3. The regular cocktail menu is also available if, for instance, you’re feeling like a $12 muddled avocado margarita is just the ticket.
The food menu combines traditional dishes — chilaquiles, migas, huevos motulenos (all $12) — with the, shall we say, traditionless. These unanchored options include the Mexican toast ($13) — a battered pan dulce served with vanilla-kissed cream cheese, caramelized bananas and a piloncillo cinnamon syrup — an egg white scramble ($13) and croque senor ($12.)
The senor was described as a ham and Chihuahua cheese sandwich topped with sunny-side eggs and a roasted tomato broth. We envisioned a golden sandwich stuffed silly and bathed in a tomato au jus the likes of which would cause even the Earl himself to put down his cards. The senor arrived, instead, surrounded by a thin roasted salsa. The accompanying slices of pan dulce were savory and airy — think something akin to French bread sans crisp crust — but overshadowed the sandwich's other components of thinly sliced ham, melted Chihuahua cheese and avocado. Swipes of runny yolk and salsa helped unify the dish but ultimately could not do enough to compensate for the bread overload that was the senor.
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A more careful balance was struck by the components of the huevos borrachos ($12.) Here, an egg scramble incorporated tender shreds of smoky brisket and corn hash before being spiked with poblanos and generous shreds of pickled red onions. Simply done white rice and silky black beans rounded out the dish, while a side of house-made corn tortillas acted as the perfect vehicle to corral the plate’s contents into the perfect bite.
The smell of chips fresh from the fryer have returned once more to 5280 Belt Line Road. The nuclear-cheese backbone is gone, however. In its place is something a bit more soulful. Meso Maya doesn't always achieve perfection — at least not for brunch — but when it does, it makes sense why locals have been quick to adopt it this place. With a belly full of bubbly and black beans, we just might, too.
Meso Maya, 5280 Belt Line Road (Far North Dallas). Brunch served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday