No. 6, Lane 65, Zhongshan N. Rd, Sec. 2
hours: 11:30AM - 11PM (Closed Mondays)
Kid friendliness: high chairs available
Visit reviewed: 3/29/2011
How can you not be excited that another Mexican restaurant has opened in Taipei? Opened in late March 2011, Mayan Grill offers a range of Mexican eats beyond tacos and burritos in a beautiful, two story restaurant near the Ambassador Hotel. Brunch is also available on weekends and I heard chorizo was going to be on the menu!
Mayan Grill's all day dining menu includes crispy and soft tacos, burritos, salads and rice bowls in varying lunch sets including soup, salad and rice, while a slow set would also include chips and salsa, coffee/tea and daily dessert (NT$249-499). They also have a dinner menu with other entrees that we didn't get to check out since their menus hadn't come in from the printers yet!
It's always hard to judge a restaurant during its soft opening- service and food is still getting worked out, staff is getting trained and it's a time for the restaurant to get feedback and adjust, so keep that in mind that things might be different since I've eaten there a few months ago. I was also an invited guest, and the things I ate were mostly items that the owner thought we should try from their lunch menu and the dishes were plated to be shared with a large group. (Disclosure- I received this meal for free from Mayan Grill, but the opinions expressed are my own. No compensation was received.)
My favorites were the hot, crispy flautas and baked enchiladas, which would make a good meal by themselves. I'd definitely order these again and these are hard to find items around Taipei. A long time ago in 2004/2005, I used to order the taquitos from Cheers at the Grand Hyatt, but they've long disappeared from the menu there.
The enchiladas weren't as "wet" as I was used to with extra sauce on the plate, but I dug the baked in flavors of the cheese, sauce and meat. You can choose between red sauce or green.
There were three salsas that we sampled with our basket of chips, and the consensus on the favorite was a red pepper salsa which had an addictive sweetness, while the three chile salsa was way too spicy for me.
The taco rice bowl is topped with shredded lettuce and sauces and the green rice can be topped with chicken, pork, ground beef or steak.
I liked the tortilla soup, but had to fish out the soggy tortilla strips out of the soup and the soup needed to be served hotter. I prefer it when the tortilla strips are sprinkled on top so that they retain a semi-crunch.
I was disappointed by Mayans' burritos and tacos, especially in contrast to my experiences with Macho Tacos (for half the price) or what I'd get in LA. The burrito seemed more like a wrap with not enough meat and fillings and each bite seemed like mostly tortilla. It needed a lot more meat. Some might be disappointed that there are also no beans available on the menu yet.
The hard shell crispy tacos were better than the soft fish tacos...
I was not a fan of the fish soft tacos as they were made that day. At first, when we looked at it, we were unsure if it was fish or chicken, as the meat was flaky/shredded and overwhelmed by the cabbage. It would have been great if there were good sized strips of grilled fish so you could taste and see it. Again, I think I was definitely comparing it with the fish tacos from Macho where the primary focus is the fish.
The housemade Diablo sauce is try at your own risk, or if you want to "sweat, cry or both." I was too chicken to try this, but you can request that your meal come Diablo style if you're looking for some heat.
The chocolate cake dessert was sinfully good- with a moist, dense chocolate flavor that was a great way to end the meal.
With other Taipei sit down Mexican joints La Casita, El Gallo and Yuma having closed down this past year, Mayan Grill will vie with the also newly opened Eddy's Cantina in Tianmu to be numero uno "sit down" Mexican in town. (Is it kind of sad that I've just written off Amigo and Tequila Sunrise?) The owner, Erik, brings his love for food and experiences from Southern California and seems passionate about making it work. I could imagine that Mayan Grill could be a great place for happy hour with some margaritas and finger foods, or for accommodating large groups or parties. I spied fresh avocados/guacamole, as well as steak and sopes on their Facebook page which looked tempting and maybe worth another visit to try. Has anyone been- what did you think? Where is your favorite Mexican restaurant in town so far?