CARMICHAEL, Calif., Sept. 1—MESA MERCADO, a new Mexican cuisine concept from Sacramento restauranteur Ernesto Delgado, announced its grand opening today.
Located in the newly developed Milagro Centre (6241 Fair Oaks Boulevard) in Carmichael, a new 40,000-square-foot public marketplace that is “filled with upscale culinary vendors and fabulous design,” (according to the developer’s Website), MESA MERCADO integrates a restaurant, cocktail bar, taco bar and store that are inspired by the open-air mercados of Mexico City and Oaxaca, as well as Sacramento’s status as America’s Market-to-Table Capital.
First opened in mid-August as a “soft launch” with an introductory menu and dinner hours, the grand opening marks the beginning of expanded lunch and dinner hours and a comprehensive menu.
Delgado, who is also the proprietor of the popular Tequila Museo Mayahuel (1200 K Street) in downtown Sacramento, continues his penchant for creating dining experiences that prioritize authenticity and enable patrons to increase their own appreciation and understanding of Mexico’s diverse culinary culture.
Delgado explained that throughout Mexico, the mercado—“market” in English—is often a dominant commercial and social hub for a community. Along with fostering direct access to local food growers, mercados also provide visitors with access to other local vendors that sell prepared foods and a vast array of retail items such as flowers, artwork and more.
“Mercados have a lot in common with American open-air markets and culinary centers such as the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, Pike Place Market in Seattle—and of course the new Milagro Centre where we are located,” said Delgado. “Arguably, MESA MERCADO is a ‘mercado within a mercado,’ because we offer several distinct mercado elements inside of the mercado-like experience of the Milagro Centre.”
The Milagro Centre’s open-air layout gave Delgado the perfect canvas to explore possibilities beyond the parameters of the traditional restaurant layout. For instance, Milagro Centre visitors that stroll between establishments through an interior corridor have virtually unobstructed views of MESA MERCADO’s dining area, bar and store—courtesy of Delgado’s decision to make “walls” out of custom backless shelves that are filled with colorful artworks and culinary tools from Mexico. A taco bar that separates the corridor from the main kitchen (which is also visible from the corridor) functions as yet another “wall” that supports the mercado concepts of both MESA MERCADO and the Milagro Centre.
Inside the restaurant, a massive “Hecho en Mexico” (“Made in Mexico”) icon is emblazoned on a wall that directs the eye towards the open kitchen—which is framed by another wall that boldly states “Food is a Religious Experience.” Delgado carefully selected and positioned these sentiments to proclaim the spirit and passion of his newest creation.
“The ‘Hecho en Mexico’ symbol is an indication of our intense desire to show respect for the origins of what we commonly call ‘Mexican food,’ which we do by using the ingredients, flavors and preparation techniques that are actually used in Mexico,” said Delgado. For instance, Delgado has hired “flavor consultants”—executive chefs and restaurant owners from Mexico—to help develop his menu and train the kitchen staff.
Delgado said that the commitment to authenticity does not end in the kitchen, but instead, is peppered throughout the entire establishment via its menu, service staff and artworks. He believes it’s a notion that is not only a worthy tribute to his parents that instilled his deep regard for Mexico’s culinary culture, but also one that is prime for Milagro Centre clientele.
“Typically, ‘going for Mexican [food]’ in the United States means being immediately served a big bowl of tortilla chips and salsa, ordering from a menu dominated by tacos and burritos and rice and refried beans, and a drink menu that focuses on Mexican beers and tequilas,” said Delgado. “Of course, we’ll have many of those items, however, there will be a very noticeable difference in our priorities for freshness, authenticity and creativity—all of which are concepts that I believe are priorities for the Milagro Centre demographic.”
For instance, MESA MERCADO’s guacamole—a ubiquitous staple at any Mexican-restaurant—is served “deconstructed,” with fresh, partially mashed avocados served in a dish aside salt, lime slices and chopped tomatoes. Aptly named “My Guacamole,” each bite is meant to be savored rather than devoured, said Delgado. “For that same reason, our chips and salsa is something that is ordered from the menu, and it comes with a three distinctly different housemate salsas.”
Along with a commitment to authenticity, MESA MERCADO’s menu is also crafted to embrace market-to-table values, which Delgado said is a natural fit in multiple ways. “Fresh, unprocessed ingredients are a fundamental of Mexican cooking,” he said.
“Sacramento’s access to so many wonderful fresh agricultural items not only enable us to take advantage of that, but it’s also a part of why we’re the ‘Market-to-Table Capital’—the other part is because Sacramentans are eager to support businesses that subscribe to the market-to-table philosophy. This includes the communities that surround the Milagro Centre, and I’m looking forward to giving them that experience at MESA MERCADO.”
For more information about MESA MERCADO—including hours and menus—please visit http://www.mesamercado.com.