When you visit El Meson Cocina Mexicana y Tequileria, you brain will know you're in South Lamar but your taste buds will think you're in Mexico.
That's because this authentic eatery makes all its interior Mexican cuisine by hand, according to tradition and family recipes. Chef and co-owner Marisela Godinez views the restaurant as an extension of her home kitchen, and those who dine there certainly feel like family.
A Mexico City native and self-taught chef, Godinez first brought the flavors of her mother's kitchen to Austin in 2000. The small, counter-service taqueria on Burleson Road quickly built a loyal clientele, and in 2010, Godinez opened the full-service El Meson. It features a variety of tequilas, mezcales, adventurous margaritas, and Mexican craft beer to complement an expanded menu.
This menu is once again undergoing a refresh, with a large variety of tacos callejeros (street tacos) set to join the iconic regional dishes and signature specialties that are made from scratch using the best ingredients possible and local when available.
Some of El Meson's most acclaimed dishes include the painstakingly prepared (and seasonal) chiles en nogada; the beef Yucatan, braised with tomatoes and chile habanero; and a chile ancho relleno with three cheeses, dried cherries, and pine nuts topped with a chunky tomatillo-tomato sauce.
Brunch is also seeing some changes. Don't worry, the brunch buffet and its more than 45 items — including antojitos ("little cravings"), appetizers, salads, ceviches, guacamole, chips, salsas, breakfast items, chilaquiles, three kinds of barbacoa, pozole, menudo, tamales, paella, and an ever-changing selection of grilled items — is still available. But to help make Mexican food a little more inclusive of healthy lifestyles, the a la carte menu will see a kale bowl topped with two over easy eggs and salsa verde en crudo.
CultureMap readers get a real treat with $3 Bloody Marys and mimosas during brunch — just ask.
The deals keep coming at happy hour, too, which happens all day Monday and Wednesday; 5-7 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; and 2:30-5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
During those magic hours, enjoy $5 house rocks or frozen margaritas, $2 off beers, and $6 select appetizers. Only family would be so welcoming.