Maiz Mexican Cantina
36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti
Hours: 11am-midnight Monday-
Saturday, noon–10pm Sunday
“This place is nice,” commented my son, as we walked into Maiz Mexican Cantina on a Sunday evening. The restaurant, located in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town since 2014, boasts a large, open interior with an exposed ceiling and brick walls dotted with several TVs. Black tables and bright yellow booths offer ample seating, plus patio seating is available when the weather is pleasant.
A basket of warm, multi-colored corn chips and a bowl of salsa greeted us at our table. The chips were thin, light, and perfectly salty; the salsa mild, but flavorful. We munched contentedly as we perused the menu.
Besides standards like quesadillas, enchiladas and burritos, the menu produced some novel items. There were Baked Avocados, ripe avocados stuffed with pico de gallo, muenster cheese, and bread crumbs roasted in the oven, and Fried Avocado Tacos, slices of avocado dusted in corn meal, flour, and sesame seeds, pan-fried then topped with tangy slaw, cilantro and spicy seasonings.
I decided to try the Fried Avocado Taco, plus a Taco de Pescado (fish taco) and Carnitas Taco (pork and grilled pineapple) for $10.99, all on corn tortillas. I chose refried beans and street corn—roasted corn-on-the cob dipped in mayo butter topped with queso and seasoning—as my sides. My husband selected the El Gordo Bastardo, an extreme chimichanga filled with potato zucchini hash, chorizo sausage, grilled peppers and onions, muenster cheese, salsa verde, lettuce, tomato and sour cream ($10.99).
My son, 11, and daughter, 8, ordered from the kids’ menu. Choices included quesadillas, tacos, chicken fingers, or arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) with one side of rice, beans or applesauce for $4.99 (drink included). My son picked beef soft tacos with rice; my daughter chose chicken soft tacos with rice.
While we waited for the main course, we enjoyed the popular Queso Fundido, a sizzling platter of refried beans, chorizo, muenster cheese, and pico de gallo ($8.79). It was yummy and decadent. Served with three warm flour tortillas, we made mini tacos of gooey goodness.
“The cheese is really good!” exclaimed my eleven-year-old.
“Isn’t it awesome?” my husband stated, rather than asked. After finishing the tortillas, we dipped our tortilla chips in the queso.
My tacos were delightful. I bit through the delicate crust on the avocado slices in my Fried Avocado Taco before reaching the creamy inside. The fruity flavor of the pineapple in the Carnitas taco complimented the pork braised in orange, onion, beer and tequila. The fish taco, which came in at third place of my selections, was still pleasing, with a generous battered piece of fish invigorated by tangy chipotle cream. The refried beans were typical, and the street corn interesting, both sweet and tangy. “You either love it or hate it,” said our server.
The El Gordo Bastardo was, indeed, gordo. The potato zucchini hash was a unique alternative to meat. My husband found it robust and delicious.
My son gobbled up his tacos. “Look how much beef is in this,” my son said holding up his tacos. “And it’s not greasy,” he noted before polishing them off.
“Oh,” my daughter mumbled. I knew what that sound meant. “I’m full,” my daughter confirmed, after eating one taco. She rallied for a scoop of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, though, along with her brother. We couldn’t resist, since kids’ ice cream was just $1.
As a bonus, kids eat free on Sundays. That made an already delightful night of good food in a comfortable atmosphere even better.
The Short Course
To avoid wait: Go early on Fridays or Saturdays for dinner or try weeknights or lunchtime
Noise level: High if crowded
Bathroom amenities: There is a changing table in the women’s restroom
High chairs? Yes.
Got milk? White and chocolate, plus juice and soda
Kids’ menu? No.
Anything healthy for kids? Try the kid’s Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice).
Food allergy concerns? No peanut oil is used. Let the restaurant know of your specific concerns; they can identify ingredients and work to accommodate your needs.