Mesa Urbana in Northbrook

I love finding a hidden gem and that's exactly what Mesa Urbana is. Tucked into an unassuming storefront in a strip mall, it's a place you might drive by and miss. But once you're inside, it's foodie magic. The Mexican Fusion spot has common favorite Mexican dishes with a creative twist and other upscale dishes that are far from traditional Mexican, but have that South American inspiration in ingredients and flavors. They call their menu "Modern Mexican" and that it is. It builds on the classics bringing in fantastic flavors that seem to mostly fall right in middle between bland and fiery hot when it comes to heat - right where it should be. 

We started off with cocktails - our server assured us that they were amazing (and he was right). It was a Strawberry Watermelon Margarita for me, which gave me a little taste of summer as we watched snow and then sleet coming down outside. Hubby had a Cubano Mojito that knocked my socks off, made with Bacardi Silver, lime, brown sugar simple syrup, lemon lime soda and mint. I always have to have a sip of whatever he gets. I may or may not have had more than a sip.

As we perused the menu, we munched on chips and salsa. When I go to Mexican restaurants, I love this part of the meal, but often the salsa is too spicy for me and I stick to just the chips. These chips were thin and crispy, just the way I like them, served with a mild verde sauce that didn't burn my taste buds.

I was trying to be good and not overdo it, but was told I HAD to try the Queso Fundido and well, who am I to argue? It's one of my favorite appetizers ever and I've only had it the traditional way with chorizo. This version had pan seared shrimp, muenster cheese, tomato and poblano pepper. Just when I though my beloved cheesy starter couldn't get any better, they went and put shrimp in it and garnished it with avocado. Love at first bite, I'm telling ya.

I spotted a Watermelon Beet Salad on the menu and that was a no brainer. Golden beets are one of my favorite foods ever and although they are trending and I'm seeing them on more menus these days, they still are not all that easy to find. I also happen to adore the combination of watermelon and feta cheese, but I'd never had it with beets. So this was something that made me very happy - some of my favorites all mixed together. It was on a beautiful bed of mixed greens with an amazing tequila vinaigrette.

Finally, we got to our entrees. Hubby got the Carne Asada - an angus skirt steak, nopales empapelados, beans and watercress salad. It was just miles above the carne asada that I've had any place else. My entree was the Salmon Al Carbon, a grilled salmon filet with caramelized mango, green papaya and avocado puree with a little mound of zesty slaw. I savored every bite.

So, although it's easy to dive by and miss this spot, don't. Take time to seek it out and you won't be sorry. I promise.

Mesa Urbana
3566 Milwaukee Ave.
North brook
(847) 383-0700

***I did receive a complimentary meal for purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


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