17 January, 2020, 16:00

Check out the chic interior & unique empanada-like tacos at newly opened Mestizos

The cozy spot has been transformed.

Mestizos quietly opened on the corner of Grande Avenue and St. Mary’s on November 3, 2019. While the menu features dishes that pay homage to Mexican cuisine, from the region along the border, new and explosively flavorful adaptations have been introduced.

Mestizos co-owners and siblings Patricia Gomez and Julio Garcia opened the restaurant with the vision of bringing to Tucson the flavors that inspired years of travel and culinary escapades in Guadalajara, Puebla, Sinaloa, and other Mexican states and cities.

Owners Patricia Gomez and Julio Gomez (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Owners Patricia Gomez and Julio Garcia (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The space

The 800-square-foot space, formerly Manna From Heaven, has been transformed into an elegant, modern dining room and patio, which seats up to 30. “This is an old building and we had to take a good deal of time renovating before we opened,” said Gomez. “Only being open for a month, we’ve been getting busier as more people find out about our food.”

The moniker, Mestizos, refers to the mixing of two cultures— Spanish and Mexican. The intricate black and white ceramic tile from Guadalajara, seen in the interior, exudes Mexican culture. The interior tables and chairs, which have been in the family for 30 years, are set up to create an intimate setting like that of a family dining room.

Stepping out

Gomez and Garcia grew up with several restaurant owners in the family; the restaurants focused on serving traditional Mexican dishes in their restaurants. “We wanted to bring something of our own experiences of traveling and trying new dishes to Tucson, which already has a lot of traditional Mexican restaurants,” said Gomez.

Interior at Mestizos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Interior at Mestizos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Menu highlights

“Everything on the menu is made to order with the freshest ingredients we can get. We are not a fast food restaurant, we are a good food restaurant,” said Garcia. The menu, which is subject to change, consists of fresh guacamole, tacos, caldos, quesadillas, house-made bebidas, and postres (desserts).

Tacos can be customized with either beans, nopales, chicken mole, tinga chicken, picadillo ground beef and veggies, grilled or breaded fish or shrimp, swordfish or a yellow pepper stuffed with shrimp and wrapped in bacon.

And don’t forget about the dollar fish tacos on Mondays!

Food at Mestizos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Assorted dishes at Mestizos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

There’s a choice of flour tortillas, corn — both are delicious and not overly thick or crunchy — or the Mestizos-style taco, which is essentially a masa empanada filled with any of the aforementioned meats or vegetables.

Standout menu items include the Caldo 7 Mares (seven-sea soup), which is loaded with shrimp, fish, octopus, squid and sea snail soaked in a hot, thin broth; and the Quesadilla de Maíz Azul, an aesthetically pleasing dish filled with melty Mexican white cheese in a grey-blue corn pouch.

Taco de Torito (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Taco de Torito (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Don’t overlook the Agua de Mazapán, a water-based drink made from peanut candy, and, what I believe to be, the best flan I’ve ever had — perfect custard consistency and the slightest hint of cinnamon. The first bite was a moment I would find great pleasure in reliving.

Flan (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Flan at Mestizos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Take note: The establishment only accepts cash and has yet to acquire a license to sell alcohol, however, they are working toward getting card readers and the liquor license as soon as possible.

Mestizos, located at 1118 W. St. Mary’s Rd., is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays.

Keep up with Mestizos Restaurant on Facebook or follow Mestizos on Instagram.

Jake O’Rourke is a Tucson native, writer, editor, and musician. He enjoys tasting his way through Tucson’s copious food and craft beer options, listening to live music, and writing about the experiences he has within these endeavors.

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