La Mesa Restaurant's interior was a true feast for the eyes, with intricately carved and intensely bright tables and chairs, full of cacti and brilliant sunshine, plus carved macaws, parrots and peacocks living amid lively and large flowers. The pleasant heat and saltiness of house salsa nicely complemented warm, unsalted tortilla chips. So did creamy, chunky guacamole ($4.50), accented by tomato, onion and cilantro, and house margaritas ($4.99), which were on the sweet side but featured plenty of tequila and ice.
Unfortunately, some other items fell short. Dos Fish Tacos ($8.49) could have used more seasoning. Jalapeno poppers ($4.99) arrived with ranch dressing in a foil-topped package, and the chimichanga ($8.99; available with beef chunks or shredded chicken) needed more meat. Corn kernels, peas and carrot bits dotted tasty orange Mexican rice, and refried beans were well salted, but their pale brown color made them less appetizing. Decadent chimi dulce ($3.25) combined lightly fried pastry, dulce de leche-flavored cheesecake filling, and chocolate and strawberry toppings, but the sopapilla-style cinnamon-sugar-dusted crust that cradled the fried ice cream ($3.25) seemed stale. The large menu offered plenty of additional choices, including multiple fajita and seafood dishes, plus burritos and salads. Overall, the food was a mixed bag, but prices were reasonable. It's worth stopping if you're nearby and hungry, but not a destination on its own.