Mezcal Mexican Grill may be a recent addition to the Panhandle's restaurant scene, but there is nothing recent about the experience of its owners, or the flavor of its food. Ramon and Rita Gomez have been in the food business for twenty-seven years in various locations on the East Coast, but now call Martinsburg home.
After months of hard work and renovations, the couple opened Mezcal on November 15th, in downtown Martinsburg, on the corner of King and Maple. Rita fell in love with the location, despite concerns about other similar restaurants in the area. Undeterred, they knew that with the federal building located across the street, and a lawyer's office nearby, foot traffic would be strong. And they were right. "My wife was really excited about the corner, and confident that we could make it," muses Ramon. "Now, thanks to the customers, word has been spreading and business has been good. We see it getting stronger and stronger every day."
The restaurant derives its name from tequila that hails directly from Mexico—yes, the one with the worm inside. Tequila comes from the agave plant, which diners can find gracing the Mezcal logo. Diners will also find an array of thirty entrees to choose from, and that's just for lunch! "Everything is prepared fresh daily," according to Ramon. The most popular dish is the burrito San Jose. It also happens to be his personal favorite. Stuffed with grilled chicken, Mexican sausage, rice, beans, and topped with cheese dip and pico de gallo, I had a hard time not choosing it for dinner. Fajitas or San Jose? Fortunately, convincing my dining companion to order the San Jose, so I could order the fajitas, didn't take a whole lot of effort.
We'd just finished munching on the complementary chips and housemade salsa when our entrees arrived, fragrant and sizzling. It also didn't take much effort to devour both dishes. The fajitas were savory, and full of flavor—fresh peppers and onions. Topping each one with pico de gallo and a dab of sour cream impressed me just fine. So impressed was I, that despite the fact that I was already well on the way to full, I requested more tortillas and finished the entire skillet. My companion loved the burrito, declared it "the best ever," and has suggested at least twice since our dinner outing, that we return to Mezcal to share the San Jose. And there's a reason for that—it's at least a foot long, and nearly impossible to consume in one sitting (if you're normal). Dessert was simply out of the question!
The Gomez couple takes pride in serving authentic Mexican food, made from family recipes. The Mezcal chef, Rojelio, turns each recipe into the flavorful delights that appeared on our table. Ramon declares, "I think he is one of the best cooks that God gave me. He is the one making the business!"
Indeed, Ramon attributes much of the restaurant›s early success to the crew running the show. "Without them, we are nothing." He is equally glowing about his base of customers, emphasizing that they are "the best any business can have.
Rita and Ramon strive to make Mezcal family friendly and comfortably appealing. The night we paid a dinner visit, we discovered exactly that. We were led to the back of the restaurant, where a cozy arrangement of tables and chairs accommodated us tastefully.
We took the time to peruse our surroundings. The decor is muted but touched with splashes of color, and without some of the cheesy, garish baubles that typically grace many a Mexican restaurant. The diners around us chatted in Spanish and English, seemingly at ease and enjoying one another.
The opening months have been so successful, that the couple is already considering expanding their enterprise and opening up another Mezcal in the area. The Gomez family has made the Panhandle their home and truly love it here. Ramon and Rita, both born in Mexico, have found contentment with their seven children. From California to Northern Virginia to West Virginia, the latest destination appears to be the right fit. "We love the people. It›s quiet, the schools are great, and our kids are doing better in school. It›s better here, not only for us, but for the kids," expresses Ramon.
Stop in for lunch or dinner any day except Sunday, and you'll likely see at least one member of the Mezcal duo smiling, greeting, and serving customers. Swing in on a Monday evening where you can get a freshly mixed margarita, frozen or on the rocks, for just $1.99. Pair it with the burrito San Jose and you're sure to head home stuffed, and happy! Preview the menu, or get a coupon, by visiting www.MezcalMexicanGrill. com. Catering options are also available.