3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

El Mesquite Mexican Grill

Gretna: 516 Gretna Blvd. 504-367-1022. Map.
Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
In a time when most new Mexican restaurants are very modest, El Mesquite will put you in the mid of the kind of Tex-Mex restaurants in that big parish west of the Sabine River. While the cooking here is a bit Americanized, it is much less so than most of the city’s other Mexican places, and certainly more appealing than the Mexican chains. The menu offers tremendous variety, and not just by filling the pages with combo platters.

WHAT’S GOOD
The first good sign is the presence of mole sauce. I’ve had better, but it’s nice to find it at all, served over half a chicken. The large number of platters with grilled meats and poultry at their centers show off the intrinsic merits of the foodstuffs. The service staff is sharp, responsive, and knowledgable–almost too much so.

BACKSTORY
A family-owned restaurant that opened in late 2009, El Mesquite took over the building famed for decades as Visko’s seafood restaurant. They performed a light renovation to the building, fixing what the many past tenants had left behind.

DINING ROOM
Two main dining rooms have smaller ones attached here and there. They also have tables on a sort of deck outside. All are colorful and in fine repair. On Wednesday nights, there’s a live band that packs the place. Other nights, it may also be full. The clientele is a fifty-fifty blend of Hispanic people and the larger West Bank community.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Starters
Mexican cowboy bean soup
Spinach and artichoke dip
Refried beans with jalapeno cheese
»Queso dip
»Chipotle grilled shrimp and avocados
Stuffed jalapenos
»Mexican ceviche
Quesadillas El Mesquite
Vegetable soup
»Tortilla soup
»Chorizo fondeaux
»Guacamole
Mexican chicken wings
Taquitos (shredded chicken)
Shrimp cocktail
Nachos
Salads
Caesar salad
»Fajita taco salad
Guacamole salad
Mesquite salad (spinach, romaine, mushrooms, grilled chicken)
Taco salad
Entrees
Vegetarian quesadillas, burritos, chalupas, and enchiladas
»Fajitas (steak, chicken, shrimp, or combos)
El Mesquite pasta (chicken, fettuccine, corn, spicy cream sauce) Mexican pasta (chicken, penne, Mexican alfredo, mushrooms)
Grilled chicken breast
Grilled jumbo shrimp
Grilled mahi-mahi
Grilled steak, chicken, chorizo and shrimp platter for two
»Grilled shish kebabs of steak, chicken and shrimp for two twin Burritos (beef or chicken)
»Burritos tradicionales (with green sauce)
Spicy burrito grande (steak and rice)
»Poblanos chiles rellenos
»Enchiladas guanajuato (grilled steak or chicken with four enchiladas)
Enchiladas supreme
Combination burrito, taco, enchilada, taquito and tamale platters
»Tamal mexicano
»Shrimp chile relleno
Chimichanga (chicken, beef or shrimp)
Enchiladas tradicionales (grilled steak or chicken with enchiladas)
»Enchiladas el tri (cheese, grilled chicken and steak, three different salsas)
Grilled chicken with mole
»Mexican grill alambres (steak with sautéed onions)
Enchiladas suizas (chicken with green salsas)
»Camarones a la diabla (grilled shrimp, cheese, peppers)
Pollo feliz (spinach, cheese, mushrooms)
»Barbecue chicken and pork chops
»Tacos El Mesquite (grilled steak tacos)
Hamburguesa Mexicana
Steak and fries
»Huevos Mexicanos (steak with fried eggs)
Carnitas (roast pork)
»Carne asada (grilled steak)
Desserts
»Flan
»Tres leches

FOR BEST RESULTS
If something sounds like it could have come from a chain restaurant (spinach artichoke dip, for example), avoid it. Go for dishes you haven’t had around New Orleans.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Nothing here is too exotic (no menudo or cabrito, for example), but I get the feeling that the kitchen could extend its range without having to do a lot of recipe research.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+2
  • Value +2
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Live music some nights
  • Courtyard or deck dining
  • Many private rooms
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open all afternoon
  • Unusually large servings
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The West Bank continues to be undersupplied with restaurants for a business lunch (unless the business is around the Gretna Courthouse). One bright spot on the West Bank dining scene is the growth in the number of Mexican restaurants. Most of those have that certain Third World charm. El Mesquite, however, is well beyond a mom-and-pop operation, with professional service and nice surroundings. And food good enough to make an impression on someone. It’s been there about a year, but it’s still not well known–although everybody on the West Bank knows the location as the extinct Visko’s.


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