It’s possible that Massapequans were not actively craving a stylish-but casual Filipino-Salvadoran-Honduran eatery, but that’s what they have in La Mesa, which opened last month. It takes over the spot that had formerly been Spring Chinese takeout but South Shore gastronomes will know the location as the strip mall one block east of Salumi Tapas Bar and Market.
Owner Alex Melendez and his husband both have backgrounds in design and product development, and it shows in the tiny establishment’s décor: The tables are reclaimed wood, the shelves are made from wooden crates, the steam table is embedded in a pickled-wood and marble counter and a collection of mismatched wicker light fixtures descend from the ceiling. Even the disposable containers are stylish.
Melendez’s menu draws on the cuisines of El Salvador (his place of birth), the Philippines (his husband’s) and Honduras (Cindy Esueda, the cook’s) but also goes farther afield to Mexico and the wider Iberian diaspora. “La Mesa” means “table” in both Spanish and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.
Filipino breakfast combos ($11), served all day, consist of meat (marinated cured beef, crispy pork belly, sausage, fried fish or chicken wings), white rice and two fried eggs. From El Salvador come pupusas ($2) with a variety of fillings, tamales and empanadas ($3), chicken sandwiches ($5) and enchiladas ($6). There are Honduran baleadas (freshly made stuffed flatbreads, $2.50 to $6) and Mexican tacos ($9 for three), huevos ranchero ($9) and nachos ($10).
There’s also a steam table that may feature lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir-fry), carne molida (Cuban ground meat), chicken adobo (Filipino braised chicken), frango com quiabo (Brazilian chicken with okra), lechon kawali (Filipino fried pork belly), Texas-style baby back ribs, roasted pork loin, seafood fra diablo and/or baked salmon. A small plate is $6, medium is $9, large is $14.
Tucked away in one corner of the dining room is a small market selling such imported delicacies as Mang Tomas All-Purpose Sauce and Datu Puti Patis fish sauce from the Philippines, Santo Amaro tinned sardines from Portugal and La Esquina salsas, from Manhattan's mini-chain of upscale taquerias.
La Mesa is at 5650 Merrick Rd., Massapequa, 516-799-3610