Meso Maya’s queso poblano was deceptively light. Photo by Lee Chastain.

Meso Maya

3050 S Hulen St, Ste A, FW. 682-316-8266. 11am-10pm Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.

Meso Maya may seem like yet another Dallas chain with a Fort Worth outpost (this Tanglewood neighborhood location is the fourth of what will ultimately be seven of a Meso Mayan empire covering three counties in North Texas). But there are elements that make Meso Maya better than the other Dallas chains (Toratco, Wild Salsa, Cantina Loredo, Mi Cocina, and so on) taking root here. For starters, the tortillas are made in house. Big deal, you say? Taco Cabana makes its tortillas in house. But the fresh corn tortillas at Meso Maya have a little something special – perhaps a pinch of baking powder, or maybe it’s magic, but they are splendidly light and almost fluffy as they swaddle enchiladas or lovingly spoon taco fillings. When cut into quarters and deep-fried, the resulting chips are ridiculously tasty, with or without salsa, guacamole, or queso.

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The diverse menu offers a plethora of food items you won’t see on a traditional Tex-Mex bill of fare. The pozole verde was a joyful surprise. The lime-kissed green tomatillo-and-chicken broth was just a touch spicy, thanks to an ample supply of chopped poblano peppers. The thick, fluffy, whole hominy kernels were just past al dente but sopped up the soup beautifully. No matter the genre of cuisine, there’s nothing better or more comforting than a well-executed cup of soup, and a whole bowl would have been a divine meal itself.

The queso poblano was stuffed with melted Chihuahua cheese, pepper jack, and queso blanco. Diced poblano peppers, shards of fairly bland nopales for texture, and a little fresh corn rounded out the dish. The dip wasn’t particularly spicy, and it was deceptively light. 

The enchiladas del Mar were stuffed with real jumbo lump crabmeat and plump, spicy grilled shrimp. Two white corn tortillas came overflowing with the fish, cheese, creamy sliced avocado, and a roasted velvety tomatillo sauce with a hint of lime. The lime and tomatillo paired impeccably well with the whole, perfectly prepared shrimp. The entrée was accompanied by fabulously tasty black beans, which were texturally closer to bean dip than whole beans, and some unforgivably bland white rice.

The cochinita pibil (Yucatan-style braised pork) was presented in a tangy, zesty achiote sauce with a touch of citrus. The soft, shredded meat came plated with pickled red onions, fiery habanero salsa, and more of the delicious black beans. Thick white corn tortillas served on the side made the meal more of an assemble-yourself-taco than a knife-and-fork experience.

For dessert, the flan de queso had the taste and texture of an excellent cheesecake as opposed to the traditional soft creamy Mexican egg custard. Not as sweet as traditional flan, the dessert was served with a dark caramel drizzle along with a pile of rum-soaked whipped cream. A pool of blueberry sauce looked a little like chocolate, but once our taste buds got used to the idea that it was fruit and not chocolate, the tart berry accent was pleasant.

 What really sold me on Meso Maya was the attentive service (which has apparently improved immensely since Chow, Baby visited) and the multi-level patios. There are really three patio areas – some covered, and some with retractable roofs. On a glorious fall day, the restaurant’s seating is expanded exponentially.

Meso Maya

Queso poblano $8

Pozole verde $5

Enchiladas del Mar $17

Cochinita pibil $18

Flan de queso $6