Maya Cuisine, 1840 Central Avenue NE


Maya Cuisine is colorful, with the exterior and interior painted in shades of lime, papaya, and red pepper. As you can see by the photo, the restaurant is located right next door to a psychic reader. The psychic was out on Wednesday. My own powers of insight suggested that even if she (I’m assuming gender) had been in, I’m better off saving my money and letting the future unfold as it will.

Time for lunch.

Inside Maya the seating options are varied, including a long window table with stools looking out to the street, a row of booths opposite the cooking/ordering area, a back area with table service, and farther back, a bar. At the take out counter are menus with photos and descriptions of the offerings—tacos, tamales, burritos, salads, quesadillas, platillos (plates), and tortas. Each is available with a choice of meats, or (yay!) vegetarian. To this Minnesota native, the food seems authentically Mexican, beef stomach and beef tongue being offered in addition to standard meats. Beverages options include Mexican beers and sodas. So there you have it.

I choose the veggie quesadilla with guacamole and a side of pinto beans. It arrives in a IMG_2984few minutes. A garnish bar offers salsas and other toppings. The quesadilla and beans are filling. My only gripes are that the free water from a glass jar with spigot tastes weirdly musty, and my booth table rocks back and forth on an uneven bottom.

The place is busy for lunch, with a clientele skewing young, seasoned with a savory selection of older folks. The front section, being near the ordering and cooking areas, is fairly noisy, but the table and bar section are a lot quieter if your dining plan focuses on serene conversation.

The highlight of my Mayan adventure is a conversation with two young women in the rear bar area. Observing me snooping IMG_2989around and taking photos, they ask in a friendly way what I am doing. I share my strategy of visiting all the non-chain Central Avenue restaurants in NE Minneapolis and blogging about the experiences. They love the idea and proceed to recommend other restaurants. Their favorites? Ginger Hop and an Ecuadoran place, but they couldn’t recall that name. I’m thinking maybe Chimbaroza? We’ll get that far up Central by about mid-summer if all goes according to plan, which of course it most likely will not. And that’s OK.

A work colleague asked me recently if I was dining alone on these outings. Having given thought to inviting friends to share the experience, I told her that I had decided to go it alone because, at least for me, solo dining encourages observation and interaction.

The rewrite of Borderland continues apace. Claire has met and been interrogated by Violet Swenson, her cranky and outspoken across-the-hall neighbor. Violet will later come to have a profound influence on Claire.

Next week I plan to lunch at Bonicelli Kitchen, a relative newcomer to Central Avenue. The website description is as follows: “A spacious patio offering Italian dishes with global flair alongside a thoughtful beer and wine list.” One fervently hopes that they also have indoor seating!

Be good to yourself.