Recently, Pam Taylor and I traveled to Chicago and Boyne City/Traverse City in northern Michigan for a week’s vacation with the kids. We ate a few places that were easy to find if you’re in the area and were not touristy at all.
A standout discovery was Red Mesa Grill with locations in Boyne City and Traverse City. The menu features foods with Latin American flavors from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The atmosphere was upbeat and cordial with bright decor. The Boyne City location seemed to have plenty of locals dining there, but I’ll bet this is a popular spot during the summer tourist season.
The food had distinct flavor combinations and presentation that didn’t feel Americanized at all.
Subtly spiced ground beef empanadas were perfect light pastries with a chipotle cream dipping sauce. Peruvian armadillo eggs are not what they seem, but they are delicious as an appetizer. I tried the masa dusted sauteed whitefish which was sourced locally and prepared to perfection – light crust and flaky, tender filet. Served with steamed vegetables and a chile sauce, the whitefish was a pleasant change from heavy breaded fish and chips. The Cuban black bean cakes were a hearty vegetarian dish. And the Costa Rican garlic steak was a winner as well. We savored the variety of housemade sauces served with dishes as well as bottled sauces on the table.
Other dishes I want to try on some future visit include corn Roasted walleye, wild mushroom fajitas, and roasted pineapple quesadilla. We did leave room for dessert which was a good call. The coconut bread pudding was insanely tasty. The kids enjoyed trying habanero fried ice cream which sounded adventurous, but was more cinnamon and fried dough than peppery.
Service was friendly and attentive. The only drawbacks to visiting Red Mesa Grill were that we had to leave the area soon for the return trip home and that we couldn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo there.
Until next time, I’ll settle for this recipe from the Red Mesa Grill’s website.
Roasted Tomato Salsa
5 lbs Red Ripe Roma Tomatoes
6 each Fresh Jalapenos
6 each Fresh Garlic Cloves
1 tbls Salt
3 tbls Cider Vinegar
1 lb White Onion Small Diced
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro, rough chopped
1 ea 15 oz can Salsa Diced Tomatoes
1) Wash tomatoes and place on baking sheet, and roast in a 500 degree oven until well charred on the outside.
2) At the same time on a separate baking sheet roast garlic, and jalapenos until charred.
3) Place roasted garlic, jalapenos, vinegar, and salt in blender and puree
4) Add charred tomatoes to jalapeno mixture and slightly puree, leaving salsa slightly chunky.
5) Add onions and rough chopped cilantro to salsa
6) Finish salsa with diced tomatoes.