El Mezon Del Cobre is one of the most overlooked Mexican restaurants in Tucson. It’s obscure location, 2960 N. 1st Ave has kept it one of our cities best kept secrets. El Mezon specializes in seafood which is ballsy here in the desert but not unheard of. Cal and I checked in for dinner on a Wednesday and found the place mostly empty. I have to admit to actually being enthused about the decor. Stately tile and hardwood finishing throughout made it feel homey and comfortable. On the outside, El Mezon kind of looks like a dump but they make up for it with interior moxie.
There were only a few tables full when we got there and it eventually thinned out. I’m not sure why, the wait staff and the food were phenomenal. Fernando set us up with a seat and told us a couple of things about his home in Aztlan, such as how little the girls wear on the beach, how many beaches are there and so on and so forth until I thought we might be asked to buy a timeshare. He was really funny though and also the owner’s father. I’d go back if the food were crappy just to talk to Fernando. Luckily the food is far from fecal.
We started with camarones toritos which were shrimp stuffed guero chilies wrapped in bacon. I seriously considering stuffing one down my pants, they were that good. They came with a light, salty sauce not unlike the sauce you get with wontons or postickers at Chinese restaurants. The bacon was crisped to the right degree and the shrimp inside the chilies was well cooked, though not seasoned. I’m not sure they needed anything, maybe a light dust of chili powder, maybe. It was also happy hour so our Negro Modelo’s were only two bucks a pop. They were served in short, chilled glasses with lime wedges. I usually just drink it straight out of the bottle like a hobo but those glasses were novel so I went with them.
For his main course, Cal ordered the tampequena which is thinly sliced flank steak topped with grilled onions. It’s a popular dish that often comes out overdone and sloppy. This one was a nicely cooked, medium. The cheese enchilada that accompanied it was standard but in a rich flavorful red chile enchilada sauce. It also came with a side of guacamole which was fresh and creamy, a perfect complement to the grilled steak and onions. The only slight minus were the beans which were fare at best.
I ordered the shrimp tacos hoping to find a new entry into my Tucson taco hunt. I didn’t but still enjoyed them a great deal. The shrimp was tossed with some mild peppers and a light chili sauce. They were not overcooked like the filling in so many shrimp tacos. They were topped with shredded lettuce which added little more than roughage. The only misstep were the tortillas. They were over sized corn tortillas that lost their structural integrity about half way through. Still the quality and preparation of the shrimp was enough to compensate for the flimsy tortilla delivery system.
El Mezon Del Cobre may not be the best Mexican restaurant in Tucson but it just might be the best seafood joint based solely on those shrimp. I’m eagerly awaiting my next trip. I give El Mezon Del Cobre 8.5 of the sexiest peppers ever wrapped up in bacon. Incidentally, if all you Cal fans want to get a little slice of Cal’s childhood, check out his mom’s review of El Mezon Del Cobre here: http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/07-30-98/chow.htm