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Maya Restaurant

Your Mexican Home Away From Mexico

Happy hours are at their absolute happiest when celebrated at Maya's. Coming in through their refreshing courtyard will cleanse you of your work-a-day woes and get you off that freeway madness that becomes 2nd Street. You'll be greeted by Mayan masks in all their humbling glory, exquisitely carved wood, a theme of vines and leaves, and festive Latin beats that'll have you dancing in your seat in no time.

Climb into their high chairs and feel like royalty as you down some of the city's best frozen, name-your-fruit margaritas ($7) and complimentary sampler botanas (appetizers) delivered to you on a 2-, sometimes 3-tiered cast-iron rack. Get there before 7pm and you're golden. Of everything in this sampler feast, you'll be pleasantly surprised that the best part is the tortilla chips (warm, crisp, and made on the premises) and a black bean dip that will make you want to get religious. Please note that that you'll never be able to do this bean dip justice when attempting to explain it to virgins.

Moving on to the wider tables and bigger plates, even Mr. T would pity the fool who didn't try their sopa de elote appetizer (corn soup, $8) with a sexy swirl of sweet chocolate molé and, get this, the added touch of a mushroom dumpling in the middle. Look out fortune cookies. Strange that they would call this soup an appetizer because it's enough to carry you into naptime with a smile on your face. And this is not some half-assed, straight from the can, puréed corn. It'll take you back to family reunions, mauling on some corn straight from the cob.

For entrees, the langosta y camarones (lobster & shrimp, $24) will have you orgasmically pounding the table with all its intricacies of flavor. With a buttery corn base, it's balanced well with hints of lemon and cilantro and surrounded by a pesto sauce which makes this colorful dish a Kodak moment you don't want to ruin.

The carnitas maya ($19) isn't a complete success. It joins two different kinds of pork -- one dark, juicy, and shredded, the other light, grilled, and too dry to go with the rest of the succulent dish -- with red onions and fresh guacamole, all on top of a tortilla sandwich with black bean sauce filling.

Top your evening off with Maya's empanadas de plantano ($7), breaded fried bananas dipped in cinnamon and sugar like old fashioned doughnuts, over an offset lattice of strawberry and cream sauce, and their café de olla ($3), authentic Mexican coffee which is comparable to chai but not as creamy and saccharine sweet, where a cinnamon stick along with a hard seed of raw sugar are boiled together in coffee for 15 minutes.

It's easy to feel like you're at home with your twice removed, distant Mexican relatives here at Maya's, as the service is genuinely hospitable. And if you're a bit too tipsy from their margaritas or their smooth house cabernet sauvignon, you won't make a fool of yourself with the doors on the way out. There's a "YES" sticker for the door to push and a "NO" sticker for the door not to. This is Maya's way of easing your way back into reality.

Mexican cuisine