Maria is a restaurant that prides itself on serving northern Mexican cuisine, and I was intrigued to see how this differs from the food we’d find at the number of other very worthy Mexican eateries we have in this city.
We’ve barely sat down and had time to open the menu on our phones, but we’ve already ordered two margaritas. My friend orders the slushy lime. I go for lime on the rocks — because you should always have a proper margarita on the rocks, and yes, I am totally judging my friend.
They each come in massive, stemmed glasses, with lime and jalapeño, and they go down way too easy. As in, “Maybe you shouldn’t write the review immediately after this lunch.”
We drink and enjoy the Latin American pop music. There are three massive TVs behind the bar, all playing the same YouTube list of Spanish- language music videos. There’s a singer in high heels getting out of a limo over and over. She’s singing, she gets in the car, she gets out of the car. Back in the car again. I would not want to be her chauffeur. Maybe the song is about how she wants to go across town, but maybe not, maybe yeah, maybe not, no way, yes, sure, why not, I can’t decide.
The server is more decisive, and she tells us that the Beef Barbacoa Doraditos and the Ahi Tuna Coqueto are two of the most popular items on the menu.
Now, if you’ve had citrus-doused ceviche before, throw those memories away. The coqueto is cubed tuna with avocado and fried onions, served in a dark, soy-like sauce that hits you with salty notes, then comes in with the heat at the end.
The doraditos make up a great sharing dish. Grilled beef is diced up and wrapped in a taco shell that’s deep fried. They come in a basket, with a slaw of sweet onions and an avocado cream dip.
Finally, I order some churros. Now, most of us have had stale churros from a concession stand or a truck, but these are warm and crisp on the outside, and pillowy soft inside. They’re served with the requisite dusting of cinnamon and sugar, and a side of with chocolate, caramel or cardamom sauce.
This is a Mexican dining experience that’s unlike any other in the city. Just be warned to have an Uber ready and waiting after those margaritas.
10220 103 St., 780-421-8100, maria.restaurant
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This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of Edify