Restaurant Roundup: Mesa Grill

What: Chef and Restauranteur Bobby Flay’s first restaurant, mixing Southwestern flavor, spicy spices, and lots of grilled meat.

Where: 102 Fifth Avenue
Why it Rocks:
Okay, perhaps this is a given New York must, but in all of my city years, I had never been to Mesa, or any of its counterparts, in any other locations in and outside of the country. This has been on my to do list for a looooong time. In a none-too-pretentious atmosphere, the décor was simple and the restaurant was fairly small, both huge pluses in my book. Reservations are recommended (via OpenTable) and we were sat only slightly later than our designated time. Be sure to arrive early for a drink at the super Southwestern chic bar. The food caused surge of new respect for Bobby Flay, whom I’ve always loved in my irrational Food Network obsession. Not sure if it’s the dorky Irish thing or his beyond gorgeous Brooklyn apartment, but Bobby Flay has that sort of geeky sexy thing going on, and his food is delicious to boot. Do NOT skip the Goat Cheese Queso Fundido with blue corn chips appetizer. The only downside is that it essentially diminished my palate for any other cheesy fundidos that I may have had in the past (my beloved Rosa Mexicano, this means you). For dinner, I had the Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and hubby had the Sixteen Spice Duck Breast. Although I’m not by any means a duck-lover, both dishes were the best of their kind, but beware, the pork had a spicy kick. While there are no substitutions on the offered side dishes, if you ask nicely, they may oblige. Either way, the roasted corn is a must. The only downside was that we were both too stuffed to try the
 varied dessert options.
Gripes:
While very open and inviting, it is loud as the high ceilings just allow the noise the travel. Sit upstairs for a little less noise, but be prepared to speak loudly to hear your counterpart. Beware: Blink-and-you-miss-it restaurant entrance
Bottom Line:
I was skeptical that the hype would outdo the actual experience. Fear not, because Mesa delivers in taste like few others. 2 restaurant meals in my recent past stand out in the ‘best food I’ve ever had’ category. The first was a teeny, virtually unoccupied bistro in Budapest. For me, the second is Mesa Grill.
2 drinks a piece, 1 shared app, 2 delicious meals…
Total dinner price: Under $150