El Maya | Ravenswood | Mexican/Southwestern | Restaurant

El Maya Image

Hours: Dinner: seven days
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Price: $$$

Midscale Mexican in a colorful storefront; BYO.

Restaurant Details

Putting a quasi-upscale Mexican restaurant half a block from Mixteco Grill is kind of like setting up your gourmet burger joint across the street from Kuma's Corner—except Mixteco takes reservations. So much for the overflow theory, but I'm hard-pressed to think of another reason to choose El Maya over its popular neighbor. True, the hostess is warm. So are the brightly painted rooms, and the entrees, rib-sticking, even rustic plates despite cheffy touches like molded sides of rice or mashed potatoes. On the downside, the choices on this compact menu are pretty uninspiring—a token salmon fillet, lots of chicken, lots of Chihuahua cheese. If you're like me you'll keep thinking of a certain competitor's lamb with Oaxacan mole negro. Back to reality: a starter of shrimp ceviche came afloat in a muddy greenish liquid and topped with limp strips of pickled onion, but entrees were better, particularly a special of seared flank steak in a pool of chocolaty mole. A house specialty on the regular menu, chicken piramide, is a wedge of corn tortillas and chicken served in both mole verde and mole negro, its top bedecked with zigzags of crema. This is comfort food that does the trick, and neighborhood patrons seem to welcome it. For the rest of us, there's Mixteco.

Kate Schmidt

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Price: $$$

Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover

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