Apr 062014


Good food and fun dining experiences in east Mesa, Arizona

After several vacations and two full winters in Mesa, Arizona, I’ve discovered a few favourite eating locations. The restaurants below offer good food and fun times.

1. Asi Es Mi Tierra

Asi Es Mi Tierra
 Asi Es Mi Tierra, at 9333 E. Main Street, is my favourite Mesa Mexican restaurant. Located in an unremarkable strip mall, the decor of this family-run restaurant is nondescript and haphazard, but the food is excellent and inexpensive. Portions are generous. Taco salad, enchiladas, fajitas, chili rellenos, and more.Everything I’ve tried here has been delicious.

The margaritas are good. For a nonalcoholic drink option, try the banana-strawberry shake. Horchata, a milky looking drink made of ground rice and almonds with a taste like dessert, is available on weekends. If you have room left after your main course, you may want to try the banana burrito, a banana wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep-fried and served with syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon.

The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays when the owners travel to Mexico for supplies.

Asi Es Mi Tierra

2. Rancho de Tia Rosa

(Update December 2016: There is no longer a Tia Rosa location in Mesa. The family filed for bankruptcy in May. In July 2016, the Gilbert location at 891 N. Higley Road reopened under new owners.)

Rancho de Tia Rosa
Rancho de Tia Rosa, at 3129 E. McKellips Road, has been a favourite with Mesa diners since the early 1990s, when it opened as a small restaurant on the outskirts of downtown Mesa. It moved to a beautiful, new adobe-style building on McKellips Road in 2001. It boasts a bright decor with lots of tile. The inner courtyard patio is a cheerful, relaxing place to linger over a meal. Prices are more upscale than Asi Es Mi Tierra.
The Taqueria, a smaller building on the same site specializing in take-out food, remains open. It has cafe seating and a patio area should you prefer. I recommend the fish tacos. Another restaurant opened in Gilbert, at Higley and Guadelupe in 2010.
Rancho de Tia Rosa
Rancho de Tia Rosa

3. Niki’s Kitchen Fry Bread

 (Update December 2016: Niki’s Kitchen Fry Bread is permanently closed. )

Fry bread is flat, yeast-based bread dough fried or deep-fried. It is served by itself or with toppings. Fry bread has its origins in native American history and recipes vary by tribe and region.

Nikki’s Kitchen Fry Bread, at 816 S. Stapley Road, serves a delicious, puffy fry bread. Located in another nondescript strip mall just east of downtown Mesa, the menu includes tacos or sandwiches wrapped in fry bread. It also includes sweet dessert versions. My favourite is topped with cinnamon sugar. My husband likes the one topped with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce. It’s best not to think about the calories.

The restaurant decor is cafeteria-like. The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays. On other days, its hours are from 11:00 am to 7 or 8 pm.

Niki's Kitchen Fry Bread

4. Organ Stop Pizza

Organ Stop Pizza
 The main attraction at Organ Stop Pizza, 1149 E. Southern Avenue, is the Mighty Wurlitzer organ at the front of the beer-hall style restaurant. Long tables with bench seating run the length of the dining room. Organists entertain diners with several sets each evening. The organ rises from below the floor at the start of each set.


Mighty Wurlitzer organs were often theatre organs, played to accompany silent films. Organ Stop’s Wurlitzer was originally built for the Denver Theater and was used regularly from 1927 into the 1930s. The original organ has been rebuilt and added to. It now has nearly 6,000 pipes. Percussion instruments, such as drums, cymbals, and a glockenspiel, located on walls around the room provide visual, as well as audio, entertainment.You order food and drink at long counters in the lobby area. Because I like their pizza I’ve never tried anything else, but the menu also includes pasta, sandwiches, and a salad bar. Hours vary by day and season. Check the website. If you go, include a walk around the building to see the turbine and blower systems.

Organ Stop Pizza
Organ Stop Pizza

5. What The Hell Bar and Grill

What The Hell Bar and Grill, at 7303 E. Main St., is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its menu includes a good variety of standard diner fare. Various events throughout the week include pool tournaments, karaoke, and live music.


It was the all you can eat breakfast that drew me to this place. It includes eggs, hash browns or home fries, bacon or sausage, toast, and two beverages. Choice of beverage includes coffee, juice, draft, mimosa and Bloody Mary. This is not a buffet. The eggs are cooked to your specification. The home fries were wonderfully seasoned and the bacon crispy. And it is truly all you can eat. When I’d almost finished the generous plate, the waitress asked if I wanted more of anything. It is a good choice if you don’t mind eating breakfast in what is an obvious bar setting. There are also other items on the breakfast menu.

what the hell

Interior of What the Hell Bar & Grill. I was too eager to start eating, so no photos of the food.

 6. Waldo’s BBQ

Waldo’s BBQ, at 4500 E. Main Street, is known for its ribs, served in your choice of one of four BBQ sauces. There is more to the menu than ribs. Other offerings include chicken, sandwiches, burgers, and catfish. The warm cornbread served before your meal arrives tastes more like dessert than bread.

The decor is rustic. Sawdust covers the cement floor. Old signs and funny sayings hang on the walls. Water and lemonade are served in quart mason jars. Wine comes in a jelly jar. Servers’ t-shirts sport sayings such as “I’m new here”, “The chef just quit”, and “We’re out of that”.


Have you visited one of these restaurants? Do you have another favourite in Mesa?


  7 Responses to “Six East Mesa Eating Experiences”

  1. These all look wonderful. Hope to return to this list next time I’m in Mesa!

  2. Absolutely love fry bread – so good! And who doesn’t love “good” Mexican food with a margarita, the perfect combination! We’ll definitely have to stop in and give some of these places a try, the next time we’re in Mesa.

  3. Great info as we want to head to Phoenix late fall and great to know where to eat if we get to Mesa.

  4. Well, I shouldn’t have read this before breakfast. Everything looks fantastic! I even love the colorful umbrellas in front of The Taqueria. I would love a fish taco right about now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in Korea!

  5. These all look fabulous! My husband wants to visit Arizona this year. I’m going to bookmark this page because we NEVER can decide where to eat 🙂

  6. The barbecue place with cornbread would definitely be my first dinner choice. We love traveling through Phoenix and now we know where to stop

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