Vaya a Maya
The PubScout says you need to go to Maya Fine Food and Tequilas, the new high-end Mexican restaurant in Ocean Isle Beach.
Ocean Isle Beach is a sleepy little beach town — during the off season. Less than a thousand year-round residents call it home. But in-season (May to September) is a whole ‘nuther story, as the population booms to nearly 25,000.
There are crowds in Lowes Foods and Publix, especially on move-in Saturdays; parking at the beach (which is still free, thank Heaven) is challenging to say the least; and local eateries are usually packed from 4 until 7 or 8 pm. Even my customary designated seat in The Amen Corner at my pub sometimes has a new tenant.
And speaking of new tenants, the shopping center at Publix just welcomed a new one — a high-end, fine-food Mexican restaurant called Maya, which specializes in authentic Mexican fare and fine tequilas. And if my experience eating there — just two days after it officially opened — is any indication, you should probably get there early in-season.
Terry and Joaquin, the partners who bought the space adjacent to my hometown pub Tap Time, began their venture last fall, and after working through construction and local protocols, they finally opened their doors to the public.
And the public has responded resoundingly, from rave reviews on Facebook about the food and the service, to praise for Maya’s airy, modern vibe (and those really neat lighting fixtures) and the quality of the beverages.
Chef David Maddi has been developing Maya’s menu for nearly a year, and he should be proud.
Everything on the menu is made fresh daily, including the chips and salsa (so good, you’ll want to make a meal of it) and a wide variety of appetizers, delicious tacos, authentic entreés and mouth-watering desserts. Maddi’s efforts deserve plaudits. I might have had room for an appetizer if I hadn’t devoured two bowls of salsa and chips.
The staff is quite efficient considering that on my visit, Maya was in its “shakedown cruise” phase. Our server, smiling, personable and attentive Heyde, even made suggestions about what to order since she “had tasted everything on the menu.” Of course, that she loved everything she tasted made our choices more difficult. But we learned after eating our dinner why she loved everything she tasted. So did we.
The Margaritas and other libations available accompanied our meals quite nicely. The missus ordered the Vera Cruz (Mahi-Mahi) Tacos, and since she’s something of a Mahi Taco expert, she declared them “really, really outstanding.”
My choice was the Camarones Diablos dish, stocked with a dozen (!) beautifully seasoned and cooked shrimp, a mélange of seasoned onions swimming in spices and a small pyramid of rice. I speak Spanish (as you can see from the title of this story), and I knew what “diablo” meant. I expected a lot of spicy heat, but that wasn’t the case.
The dish was simply wonderful.
We’re not usually dessert people, but the four desserts offered at Maya just looked and sounded so good, we decided to try one and split it. Fewer calories and less guilt, you know. Heyde came to help us, but she admitted she loved them all.
We left the Nube Tres Leches Sponge Cake, the Churros and the Plantain Cheesecake for another time and opted for the Postre Español. It was a Spanish Olive Oil cake surrounded by whipped cream and covered with a sweet raspberry sauce. It was perfectly made and decadently delicious.
As we walked into Maya, I saw two of my friends at the bar, so I went over to say hi. They own Amelia’s Backstreet Grille just two doors away. They loved the food and sang Maya’s praises. That’s got to count for something.
They were right, too, which is why I recommend you get to Maya as soon as possible.
Because once the summer crowds find out about it, it might take you a while to get in.
Want to go?
Maya Fine Foods and Tequilas
1564 Market Place Boulevard, Suite 100, Ocean Isle Beach