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Dec 19, 2006 02:24 PM

Masa back in my rotation

I haven't much liked Masa for a good long while now, thinking its dollar tapas menu in the bar was okay but mostly that its take on Southwestern food was lame and absurdly overpriced. We only recently heard about a months-ago chef change and so gave it another shot last week. Short version: better prices, a largely revamped menu, and much improved food.

An amuse of "crab salsa" on little toast rounds. Good bread and cornbread with three interesting spreads: molasses butter, a cumin-heavy bean spread, and a corn relish with cotija. Excellent sides, like a pile of four giant onion rings with a good spicy mayo-like dip, and smoky pinto beans. Stuffed chicken ($20, tasting like real chicken) and Southwestern steak frites ($23, properly sliced on the bias) were also very, very good, with excellent accompaniments: strong chili-dusted frites, lovely red pepper and cheese sopes. Hefty portions, good service. Even the "cowboy" steaks have fallen from a high of $34 to $29 (still by far the priciest items on the menu).

A much-expanded list of tequilas, probably one of the better ones in town. Wines by the glass a little pricey. It still won't wow anyone who's had fine-dining Southwestern in the actual Southwest, but a pleasant surprise; we'll certainly be going back.

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  1. The shortribs appetizer is one of the best out there. Ryan Jaronik really turned that place around. I wouldn't have slummed it enough to have so much as a cocktail there until he came along.

    1. Thanks for the update. I liked Masa years ago and had stopped going despite how close it is to where I live. I'll have to give it another shot!

      1. Had my first visit a couple of weeks ago, and I agree about the short rib app - just wonderful. Our amuse involved a chile-braised apple chunk or something.

        It still feels like a "let's introduce the unadventurous diners to chiles in simple ways" menu, but as long as you're not expecting to be wowed with originality, the execution was quite good.

        1. I ate at the bar on Saturday night - Had the sampler of tapas - one each of the ten different tapas - I can't really remember any of them and they were all cool to lukewarm - cheap though at half-price between

          Then got an appetizer of scallop and duck - again lukewarm.

          Can't really remember if we got a dessert - I guess that speaks for itself.

          The service at the bar was fine - although the decidedly not-lukewarm evening bartender finally started serving us our red wine in large bulb glasses, which was nice.

          A fruit fly meandered about...the vibe in the room was warm, but seemed amateurish.

          1. Thanks for the update. I wanted so badly to like Masa when I first went a few years ago, and thought it was awful. (How it survived all these years is beyond me.) I definitely will give it another shot.