One of my best friends that I’ve known since preschool celebrated her 20th birthday recently. Her name is Cortney, and after 17 years of friendship, we still manage to keep in touch even though we both go to college in different states. She goes to school in St. Petersburg, and since I was home for her birthday, I drove down to celebrate with her. She invited a group of friends out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Red Mesa Cantina. I had been there once before with Cortney, so I was excited to go back again because I remembered loving the food.
For my dish, I ordered the shrimp al mojo, which was sautéed shrimp, garlic, tomato, cilantro, chile arbol and tequila lime butter, and served with gallo pinto and fresh seasonal vegetables. I requested that it be made spicy and asked them to please give me extra vegetables instead of gallo pinto (rice and pinto beans). When my food came out, everyone commented on how delicious it looked, and I was thrilled that it was my dish because it looked so scrumptious. I was hoping it wouldn’t disappoint and it didn’t; it tasted amazing. They made it the perfect spice level for me – it was spicy to the point that it still tasted good, but if it were any more spicy it would be unbearable. The vegetables were cooked well, and I loved mixing them in the sauce. I wish I had a recipe for this sauce because it tasted great – the chile arbol salsa was a nice base for it and had a good heat to it, and the tequila lime butter complimented it perfectly. It was so tasty, that I was legitimately upset when I finished my dish.
Everybody else at the table seemed to really enjoy their food as well. Despite what a large party we were (we were at around 20 people), the servers did a great job of being attentive, dividing the checks, and getting the food out quickly. I was actually quite impressed by how quickly our food came out. The only negative thing that happened while there was somebody ordered the apple empanada for dessert, which was a fried apple turnover dusted in cinnamon and sugar, and served with cajeta caramel, whipped cream and dulce de leche gelato. When they took a bite into their empanada, they unfortunately found beef inside instead of sweet and tasty apple. Once we notified the waitress, she brought out a new one and everyone who ate the new one with apple adored it, especially the dulce de leche gelato.
It was an overall great experience because the food was reasonable priced and the service was great. The restaurant has a fun, colorful, Mexican atmosphere to it, which makes it a great place to have a birthday party. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I would definitely go back sometime.
Red Mesa Cantina
128 3rd Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Mon-Tues 11:00am-10:00pm; Wed, Thur & Sat 11:00am-11:00pm; Fri-Sat 11:00am-2:00am