Mayan Café outdoor sign

Address: No. 393, Xin Yi Road, Section 4, Taipei (台北市信義區信義路四段393號1F) (map)

Tel: (02) 8789-6292

MRT: Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (Exit 3)

Hours: 11:00~22:00 (Sun to Thurs), 11:00~23:00 (Fri to Sat)

Accepts: Cash, Visa, Mastercard

Service Fee: 10%

Price: $$$

Cariña, I Shrunk the Food

The search for good Mexican food here in Taipei has mostly been a fruitless one. There’s places like GoodDay that do offer it, but it’s not fine dining by any stretch of the imagination. It’s more like something you’d get at a food court back in North America, but a bit higher quality. So when I was invited to a social function at the newly-opened Mayan Café (Facebook), I was very excited. Located in the posh Xin Yi District, Mayan Café looks to be a more upscale place to enjoy some Mexican favorites, while sipping on margaritas and shooting the breeze with your upscale buddies.

The inside

The inside of restaurant is done right – clean and modern with a lot of wood tones to make you feel right at home. The place is not very large, and there’s not a lot of seating. If you’re planning to bring a large group with you, it would be a good idea to call ahead to see if there’s enough space. We were there with around 40 people and ran out of chairs pretty quickly.

Towards the back

The bathrooms are very clean, and stocked with fancy L’Occitane soaps and lotions. All in all, the decor is top notch.

Now before coming to the Mayan Café, we heard through the grapevine  that they make some of the the best margaritas on the island, so for science, we just had to try a pitcher or three.

Classic Margarita

You’re looking at a pitcher of their Classic Margarita ($1150), and this literally the first of three pitchers we would put away that night. To be honest, the price is a little steep, but you do get roughly 5-6 glasses out of a pitcher, depending on how much ice you put in each glass. When you divide it out, it’s not a great value, but what it is, is a damn good Margarita. It’s a bit on the sweet side, but they use quality tequila, and it really shows. Delicious.

Mayan Café’s food menu is a simple piece of paper, but all the essentials are covered. You’ve got your salads, your burgers, four meat dishes covering steak, pork, chicken, and fish, and a selection of Mexican fare, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, flautas and enchiladas. Their food menu is in flux, but we did get to try a few of the burgers. One of my friends went for their Spicy Burger ($350).

Spicy Burger up close

 

The first things that jumps out right away is the size of the portions, which is to say they are quite small. I wish I had some other object beside these pictures so you can have a sense of scale, but the overwhelming feedback from my group was that the portions were not enough for most hungry people.

Another friend of mine went with the Sweet Pineapple Burger ($350).

Sweet Pineapple Burger up close

There were some nice juicy chunks of pineapple on this particular burger, and both my friends said these tasted quite good, albeit not very filling. There was a side of fries and veggies, but again, not very large either. The Spicy Burger is as advertised – quite spicy indeed. If you can’t take the heat, stick to the Sweet Pineapple one.

Speaking of heat, we come to my selection for the night, the Enchiladas ($425).

Spicy Beef Enchaladas

I went for the spicy sauce, and wow, they were not kidding! The sauce they use is very spicy, and after around three mouthfuls, it was really all I could taste. The heat kicked up even more when eating some of the sweet peppers garnishing the dish. Beware of this one if you aren’t accustomed to spicy food. I quite like spicy food, but even I would probably go mild next time.

Now for an extra $100, you can choose two items from the following list:

  • Mayan Gold Rice
  • fries
  • soup
  • salad
  • chips
  • salsa
  • soft drink
  • tea

I went with a Coke and also their Mayan Gold Rice, pictured here:

Mayan Gold Rice

This was a tiny portion of rice, and could not have been more than four spoonfuls of food. Unfortunately, I found the flavor very underwhelming – but perhaps Mayan Gold Rice is supposed to be bland. I ended up putting some of that spicy Enchilada sauce on top to give it some flavor, but if you do that, it completely overpowers the flavor of the rice.

So did you like it or what?

The Mayan Café is beautifully decorated, and the margaritas are to die for. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the food portions needed to be bigger for us to fully enjoy it. We could have easily eaten two entrées each, but then you’re looking at spending $700+. Add to that the price of the drinks, and it can get pricey in a hurry. One of the things I most dislike about any restaurant is walking away hungry, and that’s exactly what happened.

Having said that, the food was undeniably good quality, and when coupled with some of the best margaritas I’ve ever tried, puts Mayan Café square into the 3.5 Yum bracket. If you’re heading out there, maybe it’s better to eat first and then go for drinks. – TY

3.5 Yums

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