What if I told you that you could get quality Mexican food and quality Italian food at the same place?
Yes, I just blew your mind.
It definitely blew my mind when I heard of Yessica’s Mexican and Italian Restaurant in Brookings. I explained it to several other people before I made the day trip.
“Wait, Mexican and Italian? Is that real?”
As I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, I realized that not only was it real, but the menu was huge. I’m talking pages and pages. This is a menu that Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue would go berserk over.
But guess what? I was jazzed about it. Everything sounded good. A Chimichanga or Classic Fettuccine Alfredo? What did anyone do to deserve this? We’re all not worthy.
I digress. I walked into the quaint eatery on Main Street just a ways from downtown in a strip mall. There was some nice artwork, a lot of wine, and it was an all-around comforting atmosphere. Owner and chef Edwin Alvarez led the way to the sunnier room off to the right. A wonderful setting for… just me.
As a backstory, half of the 605 team was leaving for the Black Hills in the morning, so I was all by my lonesome. I’m used to talking about experiences with a partner, but this time I was solo.
Alvarez kindly asked what I wanted to drink, and I asked for a water and Diet Pepsi and asked what they were known for. What I got was a house-made Lemonade, a Corona with lime, a giant Margarita, and a Chardonnay. (Don’t worry, I only took a sip of everything alcoholic except the chardonnay. Homegirl is not going to let that go to waste.) The lemonade was the best I’ve had in I don’t know when. I smashed it and would go to Yessica’s just for this.
› FRIED CALAMARI
Served with peppers, onions, marinara sauce, and Yessica’s parmesan.
› ENCHILADAS VEGETARIAN
Three enchiladas with vegetables and quest fresco, topped with ranchero sauce and garnished with lettuce.
› TOSCANA SOUP
Creamy soup with bacon, onions, peppers, garlic, crushed red peppers, sausage, and cubed potatoes.
› GABY TUNA SALAD
Lettuce mix tossed with grilled tuna, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, and dried cranberries. Served with choice of dressing.
FROM THE SEA
› CAMARONES RANCHEROS
A dish of sautéed shrimp with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and a special sauce.
› FISH TACOS COMBO
Served with choice of corn or flour tortillas topped with coleslaw and a side of special sauce, served with rice and beans.
› BLEU CHEESE STEAK PASTA
Served with fettuccini noodles, sundered tomatoes, broccoli, balsamic glaze vinegar, and an eight-ounce sirloin steak.
› FILET MIGNON CENTER CUT
Eight-ounce served with Tuscan potatoes and mixed vegetables.
For the first appetizer, he chose the Classic Bruschetta with “fresh garden-ripened tomatoes,” onions, fresh garlic and basil, served with toasted garlic bread. What the menu fails to mention is that mozzarella comes on top. Oh, and the bread is large and is conveniently cut into slices to easily share. Too bad I didn’t have a partner to help me.
Oh wait, Alvarez asked some sort of (very nice) salesperson to join us who was in working on orders or something of the sort. I found out his name was Dave Beaty, and he was with Cash- Wa Distributing Company.
“Well I have a few more stops, but I guess I could,” he said, flustered.
As I ate the best bruschetta I’ve had in South Dakota, the other appetizer came out, Seared Ahi Tuna. I can’t believe this is an appetizer. The menu description doesn’t do it justice, because it just says it’s served with white rice and special sauce. Two things I’ll say: There aren’t enough dishes with white rice locally, and the sauce was, in fact, special.
A dish that was more Spanish that Alvarez insisted I try was the Spain Paella. This is “the best recipe at Yessica’s” with seafront rice, sausage, and seafood. The seafood is whatever is fresh and available that day. For sure it had crab since the legs were sticking out of it. Am I a fan of graphic displays of what I’m eating? No. Am I impressed by plate presentation? Absolutely.
The dish was rich, but not to the point where you can only have a few bites before your stomach regrets it. And the sausage was killer.
“This is really good, but I should really get going,” said Beaty, taking a bite of Paella as I had tried and failed to ask him his thoughts on the food to have a review friend. As the youth says these days, “He gone.”
“I’ve never had Paella. What is it?”
He just stared at me.
“So… these aren’t clams, right? They’re mussels?”
He paused for a second, then nodded. “Mussels, yes.”
Then, he walked away. Friend fail number two.
At one point Yessica herself came out, and I asked why both Mexican and Italian were in the business model.
“This was a family idea,” she said.
As I ate Chocolate Cake with ice cream and chocolate drizzle, Alvarez came over and sat down next to me.
Chatting about the restaurant and his career, he said, “I have 30 years of experience in the kitchen: Mexican, Italian, Japanese, German, and French.”
I then asked his favorite dish. He said the Paella and the ribeye.
Which in that moment I realized—did I finally make a friend?
This place is so impressive and is very unexpected for its location. You could go back for half a year and try something new each time. It’s also a great place for seafood lovers as there are a lot of options. I will come back again and again and will probably get gluttonous with both Mexican and Italian, and the in-between.
1300 Main Ave., Brookings // (605) 692-1559 // Facebook
I still can’t get over the food and presentation. Mozzarella on bruschetta?! Spain Paella?! And the menu is massive, with over 15 Italian options alone and so many seafood options (including items like Ceviche and Lobster Ravioli).
The restaurant was very unassuming and almost didn’t fit the quality of the menu. There was plenty of seating, though, and it was larger than it appeared from the outside.
Meals range from $9 (hello, Tacos Mexicanos) to $30.99 (hot dang, Cowboy Ribeye). It all makes sense for what you get, but I’m curious to see the $19.99 soup, the Caldo de Camarón.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Price $$$$$ | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH THURSDAY 11 A.M. TO 9 P.M., FRIDAY AND SATURDAY 11 A.M. TO 10 P.M., AND SUNDAY 11 A.M. TO 4 P.M.
THE RESTAURANT WAS PREVIOUSLY LOCATED IN HURON.
YESSICA’S HOSTS MONTHLY WINE TASTINGS AND ALSO HOSTS OCCASIONAL WINE DINNERS. CHECK OUT THE COMPANY’S FACEBOOK FOR UPDATES.