Thursday, October 2, 2008

A quiet patio on a warm & breezy night

This is Cantina Mayahuel, a nearly hidden gem on Adams Avenue, just west of the 805. Tuesday night, my husband and I, looking for relief after a long hot day, wandered into Cantina Mayahuel, and I am so glad we did!

Mayahuel was an Aztec goddess of fertility and of the maguey, an agave cactus of great religious importance. From the maguey a holy, intoxicating drink was made, called pulque or octli. Today the plant gives the raw material for mezcal and tequila. Not surprising, then, is the extensive selection of tequilas and mezcal available at Cantina Mayahuel. There are around 90 choices for tequila, another dozen and a half mezcals..that's quite a decision to make, but one you'll have a great time making! I was tempted to simply close my eyes and point, but instead asked the server what he recommened, which was to start with the house Margarita. I was not disappointed. Light, not overly sweet, with a crisp lime accent.

The menu is not nearly as extensive as the tequila list, but I suspect you won't mind a bit. I know we didn't! You can choose from 4 different style of tacos, 2 salads, Alegria bowls, and daily specials. There area also Antojitos (appetizers) including salsas, guacamole, black beans, and ceviche. Walking in the door, you can smell the fresh, lively aroma of sizzling steak and chicken, and with that in mind, I ordered the Tasajo Style steak taco. Since we were having a maragarita and the guacamole and salsa antojito plate, I ordered just one. It turned out that was a really good idea!

The steak is marinated in lime, and is tender and flavorful. Atop the steak is shredded jack cheese, a cabbage-carrot-cilantro mixture, salsa, and Mexican crema. It comes atop a doubled corn tortilla, and though it doesn't sound like a lot of food, it was quite generous, and very filling, in a delicious way.

My husband had a Tasajo style steak taco as well, but he also ordered a chicken taco, which he loved. The chicken is marinated in pineapple juice and chipotle sauce, and is served with tropical salsa, ancho mayo, the cabbage mix and crema. Everything was flavorful and the freshness of the ingredients really stood out.

If you haven't found this hideaway, with it's richly appointed dark wood and Day of the Dead inspired interior, and quiet, breezy patio, I hope you'll seek it out and give it a try.

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