“Nah, let’s just walk up the stairs” I said with little thought to hubby bear as I shot passed him when we entered the ages old Curtain House. He gave me a smirk which turned to a full blow smile as he glanced back at me when I panting-ly hit level four. At that point, I began to regret my vanity in thinking I could triumph the stairs. But bear oh bear, am I glad we did! Mesa Verde, perched on the last floor before hitting the rooftop, was worth every step. And might I add, there is a functioning elevator. Be wiser than I and take it.
We arrived on level six, greeted not by sombreros and pinatas, but by a heavy green door. Now, whatever allusion you take right now with the question of what’s behind the green door, I will leave to you, but please push passed it (both physically and mentally) right now as there is some seriously amazing Mexican food being made here everyday. Seriously.
While waiting for the incredibly friendly and cordial folk at Zomato to arrive for this meetup (we were there a little early), hubby bear treated himself to an ice cold Pacifico Beer and myself, to a glass of Tempranillo – what kind – I can’t recall but it was spicy and delicious nonetheless.
Not long after we started to settle into our bar-side spots did the Zomato crew arrive, as well as some amazing Melbourne bloggers, of whom we were excited to share a large, yet intimate table with for the evening. We then met Mesa Verde’s Executive Chef Kathy, who honoured us with her presence throughout the night, to tell us her story and explain all the amazing dishes we were about to have. Ahhh, food, let’s talk food.
But let’s not be hasty. Let’s not forget the continuous stream of eye-popping and thirst-quenching drinks supplied by the bar, which kept rolling in, including a Classic Margarita; whereby you take a glass with a bit of tequila in it, salt along the rim, and slam your cold beer bottle into it upside down, allowing the two beverages to fizzle and mix to make a unique and refreshing complement to any Mexican meal.
|Smoked Pumpkin Taco|
|Fish Al Pastor Tacos|
Just when I thought they wouldn’t be able to trump that last taco for me, I got dished up a Roasted Black Bean Taco with Papita Salsa. Oh. Goodness. Kathy, why do this to me? Tease the living daylights out of me, by giving me only one? Only one of that tasty black bean mixture sitting underneath your house-made cheese? Oh, oh oh, that was divine. Now I’m having withdrawals! Veg heads, be on your guard and make sure you get one of these on your visit!
|Roasted Black Bean Taco|
Next up for the carnivores was the BBQ Steak Taquito. And I don’t mean “steak” like most places mean steak, you know, that gnarly super-duper chopped up stuff. Like real solid strips of tender and tasty steak pieces that every meat eater at the table was eyeballing more of. And yes, that’s Mesa Verde’s house-made hot sauce in the photo below; I think we’re getting the hint they love making everything themselves… 🙂
|BBQ Steak Taquito|
We then had another jack-in-the-box surprise visit from the bartender, who delivered El Scorchoooooooooo. A yummy and spice-hot, but icy cold temperature wise, tequila drink rimmed with spicy pepper. Oh, the cheeks are starting to redden up now…
With the arrival of the next dish, it was kinda like squeeeeee!!!! What’s this!? As it looked like a fun sharing plate. The whole table shared multiple, generous portions of stringy, cheesy Fundido (think of it as Mexican fondue), with pickled morel mushrooms and nopales (cactus paddles). I never knew cactus was so good. I knew cheese was, but cactus? Mmmmmm! And I’d have to say, the house-made tortilla strips were perfectly balanced with crunch and salt. Yup, house-made again. Yum, yum, yum. Delicious, could’ve eaten one all on my own!
The fiesta was sadly coming to an end, but at least in a sweet way. Cinnamon Donuts & Mezcal Hot Chocolate dipping sauce – this is where fights could have ensued, but civility in the end reigned. Well, it’s probably more likely the tequila that reigned, and chilled us out well enough to share the little morsels of soft, light sweet balls of cinnamon. Just.
Our drink for this course was a Roast Pumpkin and Pineapple mixture, with tequila – which I swear was the liquid, clear version of American pumpkin pie. Apparently, they ‘sweat’ a pumpkin and that’s how they get that intense flavour in the drink. I care not of the method, but all for the flavour. Four thumbs up, and a couple of toes by now, too!
|Roast Pumpkin & Pineapple Tequila|
In the end, the passion we saw in Kathy, from listening to her describe how they got the quirky cutlery to explaining how she makes everything (excepting the tortillas) in house, oozed everywhere. That passion was inevitably in everything we ate and felt all around us. Mesa Verde has all the makings of becoming a true Mexican Melbourne institution. Don’t let the stairs or door get in your way. Hit the Level 6 button on the elevator, and get your mouth around some of their brilliant food now, so you can say you were a part of it way back then.
Address: Curtain House, Level 6, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC
Tip! Unless you’re up for it, take the elevator. If you take the stairs (which thankfully has lots of landings) you’ll get to see some hidden boutiques and other neat hangout spots.
PS. Big kudos to Mesa Verde for their hospitality, Zomato for including us in this Meetup, and to the brilliant new friends we made in on the night: Paul from The City Lane, Henriette of Edge of My Plate, Ricky from Fork Sake, Bec at Dancing Through Sunday, and Selina and Beth from Melbourne Food Adventures. Who will now all be pleased that these two old bears and a fork are now on Instagram! ha!