Both the Northgate and Hamilton Place locations of El Mesón Restaurante Mexicano have patios that can seat between 60-70 guests, which are the perfect places for shoppers to unwind, sip margaritas and appreciate spring.
"Both patios are right outside the bar, so you can have easy access to drinks," says Tony Ruiz, the eldest son of the Ruiz family and owner of the Northgate location. "The open air during the nice fresh days we are having is great. Then, in the summer, the Hamilton patio is covered, providing plenty of shade, and we are hoping to cover at least half the Northgate patio when it gets warmer and we can bring in some fans and maybe some misters."
Since no smoking is allowed in the restaurants, the patio is a convenient retreat for smokers whether they are dining inside or out. Both patio entrances are located in the restaurants' bar area, where a bartender offers everything from wine and beer to house-made margaritas, sangrias and mint mojitos. Currently the margaritas, prepared by Ruiz family members exclusively, include flavors like strawberry, mango, peach and traditional lime, as well as a top-shelf Patron margarita for $6.
Two-for-one drink specials are available on weekdays with other drink offers on weekends. Monday evenings from 4-7 p.m. at the Hixson location guests who purchase two alcoholic beverages and sit in the bar area have access to a free taco bar. The special is only available to customers eating at the bar and some restrictions may apply.
There are plenty of bar-side appetizers and entrées that are perfect for the single diner during happy hour or groups gathering to watch sporting events.
El Mesón's shrimp cocktail is prepared with tomato, cilantro and avocados served in a cold tomato sauce. Ceviche can be made with lime-marinated shrimp or tilapia and is served in a pico de gallo and fresh lime sauce. The guacamole appetizer is prepared to order with fresh lime, chunky avocados and, upon request, fresh jalapenos. Guests who can't get enough salsa and chips can dip into any one of eight house-made fresh salsas like the mild or mango habanero along with the week's specialty salsa with the free salsa sampler.
"We do have some new salads, because with the weather being hotter, sometimes you don't want a heavy meal," Ruiz says. "We have a new chicken and mango salad - it's grilled mango and grilled chicken with the lettuce, fresh tomato and onion. It's a nice big salad."
El Mesón also features favorites like the chicken or steak avocado salad and a Cobb salad that can be served with traditional dressings but which Ruiz encourages diners to try using the restaurant's different salsas as a dressing.
Any of guests' favorite recipes are not just available in the restaurant, but can also be prepared in large quantities for special events such as wedding rehearsal dinners or receptions. Everything from taco bars and fajita buffets to non-Mexican entrées like pasta can be prepared, delivered and set up by El Mesón's staff.
"We treat our customers like family and we listen to them - whatever they want we can do," Ruiz says. "You are the reason we've been in business 20 years, and we'll do whatever you want. If you come in with a special request we are open, and we want you to know that we make authentic food. If you don't find what you are looking for on the menu just ask us and we may have it or be able to make it for you.
2204 Hamilton Place Blvd. and 248 Northgate Mall Drive, Suite 114.
PHONE: For Hamilton Place call 894-8726 and for Northgate call 710-1201.
HOURS: Both locations are open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
NICE TO KNOW: Today, for Easter, both locations will make specialty recipes for the Sunday brunch buffet.