maria maria / mission valley | san diego, ca
Since it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend your Cinco de Mayo going to a crappy Mexican restaurant, I’ll do another post about a place that has good food. Deal? Deal!
For this visit we used a coupon for Maria, Maria, a chain of Mexican restaurants inspired by the music of Carlos Santana. On the walls they have various artwork from artists who have all worked with Santana in the past as a reflection of the restaurant and his music. And of course, we heard a few Santana songs being played in the background while we ate.
Ah, the standard chips and salsa. That’s the great thing about sit-down Mexican restaurants – free chips and salsa! These chips were warm and nicely salted for my tastes. The salsa was a bit chunky but had a good flavor (the red one at least, I didn’t eat the green one). I found that Jake and I were mostly just eating the “liquidy” part of the salsa and we ended up with a bowl of chunky stuff that the waiter replaced with a new bowl of salsa.
This is Jake’s dish – he ordered the Chicken Enchiladas Suizas ($14.99). This is filled with tinga chicken and covered in a roasted tomato cream sauce and a cheese blend. It’s different than the usual enchiladas you see with the red sauce since it’s a tomato cream sauce that tops the enchiladas. There’s also crispy tortillas, chiles, onions and cilantro on top of the enchiladas. Jake said that they didn’t taste like the traditional enchiladas we’re used to and our waiter said these are inspired from cuisine from a different part of Mexico, hence the different flavors and spices. Jake did enjoy the dish even if it wasn’t what he was used to.
I ordered the Grilled Steak Soft Tacos ($14.99) for my meal. I had the steak grilled to order medium rare – you can see it was done quite nicely! These tacos came with some fresh pico de gallo, avocado slices, cilantro and some kind of chipotle sauce in the mix. The tacos and the grilled steak tasted very fresh with bright, delicious flavors. The steak had a nice outer char and was well seasoned. I also liked that they did avocado slices instead of guacamole.
I also got a side order of Roasted Corn ($3.99). You can opt to have the chef take the corn off the cob for you (which, obviously I did). The corn is roasted with a mixture of lime, chile de arbol, crema, cotija cheese and cilantro. It has a lovely crunch (my favorite food texture!) and the sweetness of the corn mixed very well with the cheese, chile and lime flavors. I really liked it!
Our side dishes (which were included with our meals) were served family style. We got the Mexican Rice and I was just happy that there were no tomato chunks in it the rice. Fluffy and light, the rice went well with our other dishes.
We also opted to get Black Beans with Orzo as our other side dish. I liked this much better than just plain old black beans (you can also get refried black beans or charro beans). I liked the added mix of the orzo – it gave the dish a different texture – and less beans, which in my opinion, is a good thing. It almost looked like a bean and orzo stew!
We had a little bit of money left over on the coupon so we requested to see the dessert menu. Our waiter told us that the Lime Pie is a favored dish and I decided we should get it to try. And yes, it is LIME pie, not Key Lime Pie – you can tell right away you’re not eating a key lime pie. I’m not sure what it was about it that I didn’t like exactly. It seemed to lack flavor to me. It was creamy in a way, but I just didn’t dig it. The whipped cream on top of the pie is also seriously under-sweetened – it kind of tasted like eating whipped air. Ah well. Not all desserts are perfect. Jake didn’t eat much of this so I felt it was my duty to finish it off since I liked it slightly more than he did. He’s not a dessert person after all.
I will say that Jake and I did enjoy our meal here and were quite impressed with the service. Our meals were brought out very quickly and anything we needed was attended to right away. The staff here works as a cohesive unit, serving their customers efficiently and making sure everyone’s happy all around.
1370 Frazee Rd.
San Diego, CA 92108