Not Your Usual Restaurant; Perfect for Unusual Times: Mezcal Restaurant and Bar in Ashland
Pandemic or not, one has to eat. Hearty, nourishing food comforts the mind, body and soul. Not to mention that creating routines and normalcy at a time when most people’s lives have been radically upended is important as long as you “social distance.” And according to the CDC: “There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food….” So, with this good news, the food review must go on!
But where to go? Facebook? “Boomer,” my son called me in reference to my reliance on the social media platform, but it did have a short list (in recent weeks it has gotten a lot longer) of local establishments offering curbside pick-up and delivery. With my teenager’s input, we selected Mezcal—a fairly new Mexican restaurant in downtown Ashland because we had not tried it yet and their online menu provided family options. So, it would be a family plate of tacos (eight to be exact and all the typical sides) and a Pork Pibil bowl. As expected, the projected total spilled over $50, but supporting a local business was priceless, as they say.
Getting there was a snap too. If you go down the alley next to the old Renaissance Rose and take the elevator up to the second floor, you will pop out inside Mezcal greeted by an enormous chandelier in front of you and the chrome-sparkling kitchen on your right. Our server, Patty, hooked us up; pick up was simple, and she invited us to take a peek into the seating area and cheer up the staff waiting for additional customers. We gave an encouraging, “Hello,” and, “Hang in there,” and headed out.
Bonus #1: The food was still warm by the time we got home! Bonus #2: Our “la comida familiar” also included an over-sized Jarrito Mexican soda, which I avoided but my son claimed ownership like a thirsty pirate previously lost at sea. Soon, my husband, son and I eagerly dug in to taste test—grateful for the break from cooking. “Old World Mexican cuisine,” as advertised on the website, was an accurate description. Soft, home-made, moderately-sized tortillas were filled with chicken (or beef), cilantro, pineapple, and drizzled with avocado sauce. What I thought was Bonus #3, were the pickled pink onions. They added an interesting zesty, fermented bite and a bit of tang to otherwise simple ingredients. Additionally, on the side, a smoky Chipotle salsa provided more pungent flavor if one desired.
After a few bites, my husband, who used to be in the restaurant business, complimented the tacos by saying, “Not to overpowering with spices but perfect for adding the salsa or other sauces.” I couldn’t respond because I had a mouthful of Pork Pibil, at the time, which was well-cooked, slow-roasted, and braised with a hint of cardamom for sweetness. The dish also came with white rice, beans, slivered pickled red onion and complete satiation. My son was content with the tacos and swiped the last one when I was not looking. “What? It’s Tuesday,” he said. “Get it, Taco Tuesday.”
Sadly, I cannot report on their Tequila because I ordered before the “alcohol is a necessary and allowed,” take-out option was in effect. But check out the drink menu they have to offer here: https://www.mezcalashland.com/spirits. Sign me up for the Smokey Cinnamon Margarita next time! Overall, Mezcal, owned by Freddie Herrera, is not your usual Mexican food and is worth venturing out to pick up.
Mezcal Restaurant and Bar
4 – 10 pm, Sunday & Tuesday & Wednesday
4 pm – 12 am, Thursday – Saturday
23 N. Main St., Ashland