Unfortunately, Mestizas Restaurant did not live up to the hype. It was not bad, but based on the urbanspoon.com reviews, I was expecting something way above what I got. Had those reviews been representative of what I experienced on my recent visit there, I'd have loved this place. As it was, it was OK food, some high points, some low points. However, I would say it was a value. That is, the prices are very reasonalbe, and i think I would like this a lot more as a lunch place, a place to grab a reasonably priced meal at a good price. For dinner, it just fell a little short.
To begin with, I was a bit confused. We arrived around 7 on a Friday night and were promptly greeted, told we could seat ourselves, and had our drink order taken in prompt manner. While perusing the menu, we saw chips and salsa listed as an appetizer. We were going to order that, but our waitress arrived with chips and salsa. Perhpas they are complimentary at dinner time? I don't know, I just was a bit confused. However, the chips were fresh, fresh, fresh. The first few I had were actually on the hot side, obviously fresh out of the fryer and very good. I will say that the pile of chips was a bit unevenly salted, some on top were a bit salty, those on the bottom under-salted. But they were good, as was the salsam though I would have preferred a bit more heat. But it was tasty with a nice, fresh tomato flavor with a hint of lime and a very faint cilantro flavor--very good salsa overall.
For an appetizer we ordered the Carnitas de Pollo--deep-fried tips of chicken wiht sauteed onions served over some chopped romaine. My friend Tommy thought the chicken a bit tough or rubbery, but I thought it was pretty good. The onions, however, were a bit tough, and I'm not sure why. They seemed to have been just a bit undercooked and were for the most part locked in that stage between raw and sauteed where they were just "tough." I don't know how else to explain it. But the real star of this dish was the dressing--a lime based light dressing was used and it was indeed outstanding. I actually used a spoon to sip some of it and really, really liked it--a lot. For me the chicken and the dressing were very, very good and I was pleased.
For his main course, Tommy ordered the Chimichanga. The menu says it's shredded beef tips wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep fried, and topped with cheese, served with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. It was also topped with a bit of guacamole and served with refried beans and rice. I did have a bite and it was not bad, quite tasty, actually. However, the beef was not shredded, it was cubed, and the filling was a bit runny, not the firm filling I'd expect in a chimichanga. It was not bad tasting, it was actually pretty good, just not quite what I expect in a chimi.... Also, the "topped with cheese" was actually a thin cheese sauce, too thin for my liking actually, but it was not my dinner. It was overall OK.
For my entree, I ordered the enchiladas. The menu describes this as two corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, shredded chicken, or beef tips, topped with a "signature" sauce, cheese, and onions. First of all, overall, it was pretty good. But when I ordered one beef and one chicken, the waitress said that it was actually three enchiladas! OK, fine, i also had cheese. It was garnished with a bit of lettuce and a dollop of sour cream, and served with rice and refried beans. The rice and refried beans were good, though ordinary. However, the beans could have used just a bit more salt. The same "bit more salt" theme ran through the rest of my meal as well. It was good but could have used just a bit more salt. The enchiladas overall were goodl. The beef and chicken were good. The cheese, however, could have been a bit hotter--the cheese was not quite melted inside as it should have been. The high point of this dish, however, was the "signature" sauce. It was indeed very, very good. The rich tomato flavor definitely stood out in this sauce. I could have eaten a bowl of it all by itself. Overall, my enchiladas were good. Oops... didn't the menu mention onions? I didn't miss them, but my enchiladas were not topped with any onion...
I definitely enjoyed my meal here, but I'm not sure that I'd go back for dinner, there is better Mexican food for dinner, I think, in Daytona (La Fiesta and Maria Bonita's definitely). However, I think this would be a great place for a lunch bite if I lived or worked in the area. But again, it did not live up to the hype given in the three reviews I read on urbanspoon.com. Makes me wonder who really wrote those reviews. No matter, it was an acceptable experience, I was just not overwhelmed. The price for our meal, two entrees, and appetizer, and two regular drinks was about $26. Not bad. A value. Just not great.