October 1, 2022

La Mestiza offers a great place for Mexican lunch in downtown Madison – Isthmus


Downtown Madison sees a growing number of Mexican options for lunch. Taco Demons should be well served near campus, with Taco Heaven opening in the former Le Chardonnay space on West Johnson and another joint entering a storefront on the University next to Wando. Meanwhile, two new restaurants closer to the Capitol are already open. Las Cazuelas lit their wood-fired oven at Butler Plaza late last year, and was followed last week by La Mestiza, who opened a second Madison location on the East Main just off the plaza.

Finally, here’s a quick, affordable but still tasty Mexican lunch for the downtown crowd.

La Mestiza has taken over a space recently vacated by Subway, transforming a drab, cramped and rushed atmosphere into a bright and warm café-style environment. A small bar with half a dozen seats faces the kitchen on the left side of the restaurant, with the rest of the room dominated by a cluster of tables for four and a long open booth at the back.

The menu is the same as the location on the west side of La Mestiza, starting with fries and salsa, which are served for free when you eat there. The former are fried fresh, often served hot and a good kind of oil. The latter comes in two varieties, a tangy salsa roja with a little spice and a mild, smooth and creamy salsa verde.

A dozen baker’s dishes and a rotating range of daily specials are on the lunch menu, which largely overlaps the entrees. Topping the list are chilaquiles con carne asada (corn tortillas simmered in a tomatillo sauce and topped with slices of skirt steak, sour cream, and queso fresco) and a discreet platter of chicken enchiladas. Tamales, served in the shell, are more filling than they look and their flavors change daily, although pollo, pastor and queso are regulars. The taco trio has a nice range of pollo, asada, and pasteur, topped appropriately with cilantro and onions and none of those icebergs, but they’re lightly backed up by a single tortilla (instead of two); tacos can also be ordered a la carte.

Lunch can be ordered to go and is served in a Styrofoam container. The wait is short as the staff are ready to greet customers. Fries and salsa are not free when ordering take out.

The main menu increases the portion size and goes one step further in terms of chili peppers and protein, adding lamb and salmon to the mix; the price of these dishes ranges from $ 12 to $ 16. Vegetarians won’t find much on the menu, but there are a few selections of enchiladas and meatless appetizers, along with a small array of side dishes. Dessert options include a tres leches cake, flan, and fried plantains topped with caramelized goat’s milk. Weekend diners will also find a brunch menu served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., which includes some of the usual fare (like chilaquiles and tamales), multiple variations on huevos (such as rancheros). , motuleños and con chorizo) and carnitas. Full Isthmus the review of La Mestiza will follow after the restaurant has been open for a decent interval.

The homemade margarita is made with horritos tequila, Grand Torres orange liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice, just like in the original location. It is accompanied in the drink menu by a sangria, a mojito, a large selection of tequilas and a standard range of cervezas, including Corona, Tecate, Sol, Pacifico, Bohemia and Negra Modelo. No slurpee machine in sight. On the non-alcoholic side, the restaurant also serves café de olla, a basic trio of aguas (Jamaica, Tamarindo, and Horchata), bottles of Jarritos, and regular fountain soda.

As reliable and affordable as La Mestiza is for lunch, it offers an even more engaging happy hour, which runs weekdays from 3pm to 7pm. First of all, the applications are half reduced; that means the shrimp ceviche tostadas will cost $ 4, the taco trio for under $ 3.50, and a large bowl of chunky guac for around $ 2.25. Meanwhile, the price of homemade margarita has dropped from two dollars to $ 4, and cervezas are cheaper at $ 2.50. Better yet, the restaurant plans to offer the same offers from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. for late-night noshers in a few weeks.

La Mestiza gives a boost to downtown Mexican options, which will hopefully continue to improve once the taco joints near State Street open. Now all it takes is a bona fide taqueria and maybe a taco truck or two bouncing between campus and the Capitol to complete the scene.