By ROBIN DOHRN-SIMPSON
Mario’s de La Mesa, located on the edge of La Mesa Village, has a new owner, Juan Vasquez. His is the classic American dream story.
“I started working here 16 years ago as a dishwasher, then transitioned to cook, next server and now I’m the new owner. I’ve only owned the restaurant for one month,” Vasquez said.
Although his ascension to owner is a change at the top of Mario’s’ business, Vasquez assured that the recipes customers of the long-time La Mesa staple will remain the same. Even Chef Javier stayed on, he added.
The cuisine at Mario’s is a fusion of Sonora, which is the state that borders Arizona and New Mexico, and has been influenced by the U.S.A. and Sinaloa, the state that includes Mazatlán, where they specialize in seafood such as aguachile and ceviche as well as the traditional pork, shrimp, tenderloin of beef, and shredded beef.
“In the end, it’s all about the sauces,” explained Vasquez. “Chef Javier ably demonstrates his skill with sauces such as chocolate almond mole sauce, AuGratin sauce, and creamy chipotle sauce.”
In addition, living next to Baja California and enjoying a variety of Mexican cuisines, San Diegans are connoisseurs of salsa. Both the red salsa and the salsa verde at Mario’s are excellent. Just the right mixture of spice and chunkiness.
“We are well-known for our carne asada plate, our fish tacos and fajitas,” Vasquez said. “Our breakfast is very popular also. We offer chilaquiles with a mole, verde or chipotle sauce, huevos rancheros, tamale and eggs, carne asada with eggs. We also have a popular shrimp enchilada.”
The sauces have two levels of heat — creamy, which is less spicy, and regular.
Shrimp is prominently featured on the menu, ranging from shrimp fajitas to shrimp chipotle made with chipotle sauce, sautéed mushrooms, onions and bell peppers with Chef Javier’s creamy chipotle sauce. Shrimp “Don Gallo” Style is made with roasted green chiles with AuGratin sauce, sautéed with onions, bell peppers and fresh mushrooms, served with salsa verde.
The entire staff is excited to be open and have a new owner, one whom they’ve worked with for years, after being closed for months, reopened for take-out, then re-closed, then opened on the outdoor patio. Dining is currently back to normal with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Enjoy Sunday brunch, lunch or dinner at Don Mario’s. For a full menu go to www.mariosdelamesa.com.