Maya's Mexican Bistro
Once upon a time, there was a recently-graduated student with a virtually worthless liberal arts degree. Unsure what his future held, or for that matter, even what industry or career path he wanted to pursue, he foolishly answered a job posting on Monster.com calling for "sports minded individuals" that promised big money and a fun and exciting job. As it turned out, the company who hired him was part of a larger cult-like company, which offered the "fun" job of working 10-hour days, cold-calling, door-to-door sales for 100% commission. As you may have imagined, after less than two weeks of having doors slammed in his face and being told to go to hell, our hero decided this wasn't the job for him. With less than $400 to show for two 50+ hour work weeks, he cut his losses and moved on. But on the bright side, the job did introduce him to Maya's Mexican Bistro at 12921 State Line, so it wasn't a total washout...
Maya's is quite frankly, amazing. I've been here several times, but since I moved, it's a bit further of a drive, thus I don't make it here as often as I might like. It's a bit far south for a lot of people, but as anyone who has eaten here will attest, well worth the drive.
Maya's, while calling itself Mexican, isn't really... It's more of a Southwest fusion, with Mexican, American and Italian influences. The decor is a classy take on the traditional Southwestern style of most Tex-Mex places, with a stronger influence on Arizona and New Mexico than the Lone Star State. Nothing spectacular, but at least unique from the On the Borders of the world.
The first thing about this place that will really hit you is the salsa. Homemade, it has a subtle smokey flavor, unlike anywhere else I've been. This flavor is the result of smoking the tomatoes for the salsa in a home-made smoker in the back (I know this because I asked). It has a nice kick, without being overwhelming, and pairs nicely with their freshly made tortilla chips.
The guacamole is supposed to be awesome as well, though not being a fan of the green stuff, I've never ordered it. I have, however, seen it prepared. Your waiter or waitress will bring out the fixings and prepare it table side, giving a nice show to you and your surrounding diners. I think Gordon Ramsey would be proud ...
As for the rest of the food, the menu has a lot of variety, and all of it is truly fantastic. Natasha always orders the same thing, a smoked chicken and chortizo torte. Made with smoked chicken, choritzo, portabellos, and roasted red peppers (didn't I mention the Italian influence?), it's served on a fried flour tortilla, which is then topped with a mozzarella-asiago blend and baked in the oven. The flavor combinations are really top-notch, thus making this an instant favorite.
As for me, I like to surf the menu, trying various things, both specialties and ala carte. This time I choose the shrimp and spinach chimi. While normally rather indifferent to chimichangas, this one was different. With shrimp, spinach, garlic, roasted red peppers and mozzarella in a lightly golden chimi, it was served over queso espinica with a side of Spanish rice. Very, very delicious...
There's a sign out front proclaiming Maya's to be home of Kansas City's favorite margaritas, but as they're pre-mixed (yes, I asked), I'm not sure how this can be. They're good, but nothing different from a standard margarita anywhere else. Still, this doesn't detract from this place, which is unequivocally my favorite restaurant in all of Kansas City.
As for the service, it was good, above average. Prices are slightly higher than most Mexican chain restaurants, but well worth it. Do yourself a favor and try this place as soon as possible.