Ensalada de chayote. Photo by Molly Dickson

Owners Raul and Olga Reyes. Photo by Molly Dickson

Nestled among the thrift stores and taquerias, Mesa brings an unexpected upscale feel to its spot on Jefferson Boulevard. This is not just another Mexican restaurant. It’s authentic coastal cuisine from the state of Veracruz, specializing in dishes with eclectic and powerful flavors. Chef and owner Raul Reyes reincarnated his previous venture, La Palapa Veracruzana, which operated in the same space. “The food is about the same, but with a more upscale feel,” he says. Reyes spent a year and a half remodeling the restaurant. He built the concrete bar by hand and fashioned tables and chairs out of scrap metal, creating a rustic yet elegant ambiance. Reyes and his wife, Olga, are the masterminds behind the food, engineering dishes like ceviche — an appetizer of snook and shrimp cured in lime juice and topped with tomato, onion, micro cilantro and avocado, served with chips. For something on the wild side, try the Rabo de Res en Acuyo: braised oxtail with hoja santa sauce served with dumplings, yucca and corn on the cob. That’s Reyes’s favorite dish on the menu. After each meal, guests receive a small, complimentary tortito, a cocktail made with peanut butter, Brazilian rum and condensed milk.

Jefferson between Zang & Beckley

Three more spots to dine on Jefferson Boulevard

1 Charco Broiler Steak House
There’s no better place to satisfy a craving for meat and potatoes than this neighborhood institution, which has adorned Jefferson Boulevard for 40 years. Plus, kids eat free on Wednesday nights.
Jefferson & Bishop

2 El Ranchito
You can’t go wrong with this family-owned establishment, which is more than just another Oak Cliff Tex-Mex joint. El Ranchito brings the taste of Monterrey with dishes from northern Mexico like cabritos and mollejas.
Jefferson & Llewellyn

3 Gonzalez Restaurant
Another Tex-Mex favorite, Gonzalez is known for its fluffy homemade tortillas. Stop by on Saturday mornings for a free breakfast burrito when you purchase any regular menu item.
Jefferson & Bishop