Friday, December 21, 2012

Mesa Shows Mexican Cuisine's Elegant Side

By Christina Georgiou

Mesa quietly opened without much fanfare Thursday evening, but the new restaurant is unlikely to be a secret for long.

Completely remodelled in comfortable, rich earthtones, and softly but dramatically lit by realistic electric candles, the new Mexican restaurant is nothing like Mex Tex Trio, which formerly occupied the space, and neither is the food.

"We're taking Mexican culture cuisine and making it modern," said co-owner Juan Carlos Peredes. "A lot of people think (Mexican food) is heavy, but we're making it light with a lot of flavor."

Chef Rafael Palomino and Juan Carlos Peredes,
owners of Mesa.

Peredes, along with his business partner chef Raphael Palomino, also owns Tapas on Main in Bethlehem, and are obviously pros at making their guests feel special--and right at home.

"We never rush our guests," Peredes said, adding that the new restaurant aims to provide upscale service, food and drinks. "But we're really laid back."

That's a good thing, because diners will undoubtedly want to take their time savoring all that Mesa has to offer, starting with eight different kinds of margueritas and 40 brands of tequila, all offered in three varieties--silver, reposado and anejo--bringing the number of choices to 120.

Nine different Mexican varieties of beer, along with a selection of domestic and imported varieties, and a dozen wines are also among the bar's choices.

Menu offerings are not from a specific region of Mexico, but representative of the country as a whole, Peredes said.
Traditional Mexican choices are definitely represented on the menu.

However, the elegant presentation and addition of unusual ingredients, such as lobster quesadillas and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, provide intriguing--and delicious--options. And, unlike a lot of the country's cuisine, a lot of Mesa's selections are not overly spicy.

Above,  lobster and vegetable
quesadilla appetizers. Below,
bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin,
which we can personally say
was delicious.
The dessert selection will vary, depending on what Palomino makes each week, Peredes said.

"The desserts are very good. We make everything. We don't like to buy anything. We don't like chemicals," Peredes said. "If we bought something and it wasn't good, we'd take the blame."

Palomino also owns several other restaurants in New York and Connecticut and is the author of four cookbooks. A native of Colombia, his Latin style cuisine has garnered "excellent" ratings from the New York Times, and his culinary arts institute recently received a $1.3 million grant to teach young Latin-Americans the craft. 

Peredes is also originally from Colombia. He became interested in starting a second restaurant in Easton after his fiance and her family, lifelong Easton residents, suggested the city would be a good place to invest.    
Pork and carne asada taco

The "tequila room" is available for private
parties and is where Mesa's selection
of 120 kinds of tequila will live.

Mesa's opening has brought approximately 18 new jobs to the city, and all the employees seem enthusiastic about the new restaurant.

"I've been waiting for this day for three months," said manager Oscar Longas. "I'm very excited."

Longas wasn't the only one. As they streamed in, Mesa's first diners heaped lots of praise on the new establishment.

"This is fantastic. That's a big hit for me," one guest was overheard to say, trying a pork taco appetizer.

"We're next door. We're going to send people over," said others.

Peredes said Mesa's "soft" opening will give him and employees time to get everything "just right." Based on what was observed Thursday evening, they're already there.

Mesa is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 4 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant will be closed on Christmas eve and Christmas day. On New Year's Eve, the last seating for dinner will be at 8 p.m. Mesa will be open for regular hours on New Year's Day.
click on any photo for
a full-size view

Brunch and lunch hours will be added in January, and a grand opening party is planned for early in February. Live music on Fridays and Saturdays is also part of the plan for 2013.

To make reservations or for more information, call 610-829-2101

Visit Mesa on the web at


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