A few days passed since we had dined at El Charro. Now it was off to Theresa’s Mosaic Café (Silverbell & Grant) with the remnants of our extended family: middle daughter Paige, her husband Tim, and their teenage boyz, Jon & Morgan. Dree and boyfriend Todd, and Julie and kids, Jessie & Colby, had departed the day after Christmas.
We had made reservations and, as at El Charro, were seated within two minutes of arrival. It was a beautiful sunny winter day and the view of the Catalinas from the dining room added to the delightful ambiance. As an aside, having dined on their patio, the view is even better from there.
Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the recently enlarged and re-designed space.
According to the AZ Star last September, “After enjoying a surge in business following its Food Network exposure a year ago, a west-side restaurant is expanding.
Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe and its chef, David Matias, were thrilled to go up against celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a huevos rancheros “throwdown.”
“Even though we lost, we feel like we won,” says Matias, noting that his 30 minutes of fame brought him customers from all over the country and from Canada.”
All of their new-found fame reinforced my belief that Theresa’s Mosaic Cafe’ is one of the top Mexican restaurants in town.
In addition to the view, one of Mosaic’s delights is watching the little Mexican lady at the tortilleria twirl the dough to cook amazingly thin corn and flour tortillas right there in the dining room. Another delight is the colorful original Mexican carved tables and chairs. Each table has its own theme. However, some patrons find the chairs hard and uncomfortable. Seat cushions would help.
Chips & Salsa
The chips and salsa arrived at our table almost immediately. The comparison had begun. Unfortunately, the first batch of chips was not fresh. We hailed our server. Paige explained the problem and asked for fresh chips. Server-lady gave her a disapproving glance, but shortly a young fellow brought the fresh chips we had expected. Excellent! Perhaps our server-lady thought we were gringos and wouldn’t notice. Strike one.
Then it was time to order drinks and our main dishes. Paige and I again ordered margaritas with 1800 tequila (the lesson learned at El Charro). To no surprise, it was lunchtime and the place was very busy. Nevertheless, our drinks arrived quickly. That should have raised a red flag.
If these margaritas were made from 1800, neither of us could tell. What was immediately apparent was that our margaritas were too sweet and syrupy. Clearly they were not “hand-made” by the bartender, as they had been at El Charro. I assume, but do not know, our margaritas came from a pre-mix anyone can buy at the store. Strike two.
We asked for an order of guacamole, which came in a few minutes. The boyz spread it on their handmade, fresh-from-the-tortilleria tortillas and declared the combination excellent. Paige, Tim, and I thought that Mosaic’s guacamole was as good as El Charro’s regular guacamole, but not a tasty as Tia Monica’s especial guacamole one orders as an appetizer.
Moreover, after El Charro, the salsa was a bit disappointing. But I must say that you can’t get fresher tortillas than at Mosaic. Whoever that little Mexican lady is that cooks the handmade tortillas right there in the dining room, she’s a keeper.
Our meals came. Typical high-quality Tucson-type Mexican dishes: fish tacos (hard shell), beef and chicken enchiladas, green chili burrito. I had their huevos rancheros. Excellent! As good or better than at any other Mexican restaurant in town that I have patronized. All of our dishes were served with frijoles, rice, and choice of corn or flour tortillas. Generous portions. It was a very pleasant meal.
That is until, for reasons I can’t explain, the staff started moving chairs and tables. The screeching and clanking against the tile floor lasted about a minute and was both loud and annoying. Way to spoil our happy mood, muchachos.
Conclusion? Generally, we all agreed that the food ranged from good to excellent, even though the first order of chips and the margaritas were a disappointment. Perhaps their fame had had a detrimental effect. I counted the votes. El Charro won hands down. On to Cafe’ Poca Cosa in a few days.
Theresa’s Mosaic Café
2456 N Silverbell Rd Tucson