Being so close to the border, or at least closer than, say, Des Moines or Fargo, Cowtown has a few places that can manage a semi-decent spiced Mexican beer. The one least likely to make a Mexico City native puke is at Blue Mesa. Not that mixing lime juice, hot sauces, and assorted spices into beer is brain surgery, but Blue Mesa loads up on the heat, and the result has a nice, sinus-clearing, Bloody-Mary kick. The best part is that, unlike at most other Tex-Mex eateries, Blue Mesa’s michelada doesn’t taste as if a bus boy had poured a beer over a half-eaten enchilada plate and then into a pint glass. There isn’t a lot of shit floating around the head.
Before we go on, I guess that if we’re gonna talk about the best, we gotta mention the worst. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Joe T. Garcia’s gets the dubious honor. Like the gringo-friendly food there, the Northside restaurant’s michelada is Mexican in name only. The most racist Confeddie flag-wavin’ redneck in Texas can squeeze a lime into a glass of Tecate and call it “michelada,” folks. If you find yourself at Joe T.’s and have a hankering for spiced Mexican beer, take my advice: Ask for a generous splash of ginger ale on top. It makes a world of difference.
Here’s a little more wisdom. If you find yourself on the North Side with a jones for both Mexican food and a quality michelada, get back into your car and head over to the South Side. The place you’ll wanna visit is called La Playa Maya, and even though there’s one on the North Side, the one on Hemphill Avenue serves the best spiced Mexican beer. It’s here where you’ll likely find me, sipping on (OK, chugging) the friendly Mex-Mex eatery’s version of spiced beer, a cool yet sassy concoction whose secret ingredient a smiling yet stern staffer would not divulge after repeated inquiries.
Yeah, La Playa Maya is where you’ll find me – until my flavor of the month changes. Again.
O Brother, Where Art Mike?
A little game that some friends of mine in the service industry and I like to play is “Guess the Name of Mike Musgrove’s Restaurant Today.”
Musgrove was part of Cachonga’s (R.I.P.), formerly Banderas on the Boulevard (R.I.P.), formerly (but under different ownership) the dearly departed Goose West. (Oh, the fun Last Call and crew had there – doing sequential shots, singing at the bar, throwing darts at one another’s feet. Sigh! The good ol’ days.) After apparently running out of luck at the Arlington Heights building, Musgrove recently relocated operations to the Camp Bowie Boulevard strip mall in which the legendary Café Aspen sits, west of Bryant-Irvin Road.
The name of the place is Ovation, and executive chef Keith Hicks’ impressive menu of soul food-ish dishes, such as chicken with waffles and fried green tomatoes with red-eye gravy, is one of a few improvements. Some others are the quiet, smoker-friendly L-shaped bar in the back and the overall vibe. Unlike Aspen and, a couple of blocks away, Tim Love’s new bar/restaurant Duce, Ovation is stylish but laid-back and totally non-pretentious.
Kinda like, well, Goose West. (Sniff, sniff.)
Contact Last Call at firstname.lastname@example.org.