Handcrafted Mexican artwork initiates the Maya dining experience that’s soon enhanced by acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval’s daring culinary techniques—authentic but modernized Mexican where you can segue from Mexico City style corn on the cob to filet mignon presented with a cactus salad. This Upper East Side neighborhood hangout can be quite lively, but the veteran servers remain calm and poised. The homespun margaritas blended from a collection of 200 agave-based spirits pair beautifully with Maya’s traditional small-plated finger food and its other contemporary triumphs. There’s no ageism or posing here, even their huge bar defies this neighborhoods reputation for niche-only establishments.
At times, I mistook this upbeat chill zone for something you’d find in a hipster part of Madrid, but then the Bacon Guacamole showed up (infused with chicharron, pickled chile, and cotija cheese). And, any reminiscing about old-style Mexican grub stops with their Chipotle Camarones—tequila flambé shrimp, black bean purée, gouda huarache, and chipotle sauce with a frisée salad. Pace yourself and keep your post-dining plans flexible.
You can turn this culinary romp—ooh la-la, chile pasilla-rimmed Yucatan Margaritas steeped in agavales blanco and habañero blood orange—into a health kick by concluding with their chili-powder-spiced fruit plate. Investigate their Bottomless Brunch, Saturdays and Sundays 11:30am – 4:00pm. Visit Maya New York on 1191 First Ave (64th/65th), 212.585.1818.