Restaurant Review: Mesa in Oak Cliff

The Reyeses; their creamy flan de naranja. (photography by Kevin Marple)

Raul Reyes opened his first restaurant in 2008, a tiny place in Oak Cliff serving the colorful cuisine of his birthplace, the Veracruz region of Mexico. La Palapa Veracruzana was run by his family, wife Olga working as his co-chef, daughter Jaretzy taking managerial duties, and son Raul Jr. waiting tables. The seafood-centric menu snagged the palates of serious food lovers and critics in Dallas, but the kudos posted on food blogs and the glowing reviews couldn’t keep it alive. It closed after only a year.

“We never pulled an alcohol license,” Reyes says by way of explanation. “I couldn’t. My daughter was manager and she was only 17.”

Dejected, Reyes figured he would have to shed his chef whites forever and return to the construction business to support his family. Before La Palapa Veracruzana closed, Reyes had augmented his income by taking on handyman jobs. Chris Zielke, co-owner of Bolsa and Smoke, had hired Reyes to rebuild the bar at Bolsa, the popular farm-to-table restaurant in the Bishop Arts District. So Reyes showed up at Bolsa one day and told Zielke he’d closed his restaurant. Zielke encouraged Reyes to try again.

Stay with me.

8 comments on “Restaurant Review: Mesa in Oak Cliff

  1. Mesa is incredible! Its like, the Lucia of Mexican restaurants. Except, you can usually get in quick enough (for now).

    The duck with mole’ and the oxtails are definitely addictive!

    And, the entire Reyes family are genuinely some of the most welcoming hosts I know of.

  2. The best ceviche in town. We are there at least once a week to dine and see Raul. This is a true mom and pop operation!

  3. We went after reading this review!! So delicious. Right so right about cevechi. Amazing friendly staff. Thanks for telling us about this place. We will be back.