The Mission Old Town Restaurant Review
The Mission Old Town was the other of my “special” meals during my trip to Scottsdale. It’s billed as offering modern Latin cuisine and as you know from my constant bemoaning, Pittsburgh doesn’t do anything Latin outside of a cheap, ethnic eatery set-up. But in Old Town Scottsdale, chic and hip rule, regardless of the type of cuisine.
As its name suggests, the Mission is located in, well, what looks like a mission church from the Spanish colonial era. The outside is all white and the inside contains beautiful decorative arts that resembled many of the “real things” I’ve seen during my travels over the years in Latin America.
We had reservations for a Saturday night and am I ever glad we did. The place was a frenzied mob. Unlike at Virtu, where the ambiance was quiet and sedate, dinner at The Mission was the exact opposite. And that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t overly love the dining experience. While there is outdoor seating both in the front and as well as on a back patio, it looked like we were seated indoors. This wouldn’t have been as bad as it was but the inside was incredibly loud, almost on a ridiculous level. The bar area was packed and where there is flowing booze, the conversation levels rise decibel by decibel seemingly each minute . And it was dark, like “are you afraid of the dark” kind of dark. Normally neither of these things bother me (too much) but that night, well, it was just not what I was hoping for our final meal in Arizona.
Although I said the whole time we were there, “I’m going to get a margarita,” I never did. While I do enjoy margaritas I feel they cancel out any appetite I have for actual food and didn’t want to become too stuffed on just a salt rimmed beverage. So alas, I never had my margarita in a state I definitely should have but instead opted for the Watermelon Basil mojito ($15). While yes, it was one of the priciest cocktails I have ever ordered (if not the priciest), it was so worth it. I really dig basil and loved the combination of it with watermelon. The menu also had some unique sounding non-vodka Moscow Mules. #Nexttime (because yes, I very much want there to be a next time in lovely Scottsdale).
As I’ve tended to do in the past, I ordered a couple of appetizers for my meal. I started with the Pozole ($10) which is a type of Mexican stew. (I first learned of pozole when I was living in Cuernavaca, Mexico and a local there told me it’s commonly eaten for the country’s independence day.) This version featured red chile, smoked pork, hominy (you can find this in the canned vegetables aisle at your supermarket here in the United States), avocado, lime, and corn tortilla strips. I made this myself earlier this year but am not going to lie, the version at The Mission was exquisite.
For my “main course” I went with the Duck Carnitas Empanada ($18). This included duck confit, foie gras, orange habanero glaze, oregano, mushroom, and Oaxaca cheese. I didn’t love this as much as I had hoped; there was too much going on in the way of flavors, especially with the cheese. For me at least, empanadas are one of those things where less is more, especially in regards to ingredients.
And as a side, D and I split the Haricot Verte ($6) which was special with the inclusion of bacon, lime, and chiltepin.
D started with the Grilled Gemsalad ($10). This was topped with a chipotle vinaigrette, shaved radish, black beans, cilantro, and cotija cheese. He first had “grilled” lettuce back on our Western Caribbean cruise last October and loved the taste. This was certainly not your standard salad.
He ordered the Marinated Jidori ($30) for his entree. This included grilled mushrooms, a Oaxacan cheesy rice, and a chile verde and fermented black bean sauce.
We passed on dessert as we still had our lamington to eat from earlier. However, the Espresso Churros and Guatemalan Chocolate Pastilla both sounded amazing.
While overall I enjoyed the food portion of my meal at The Mission, the whole experience was not as good as I had hoped (especially considering it was a bit pricier). If I were to return, I would by all means insist on an outside table, since after all it is Arizona. (Unless it was July, then just no.)
3815 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251