Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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Chilies; Hooray, No?

dining_mayaErrand day typically involves lunch on the run, and since we were in Scotts Valley, we stepped into Maya Mexican Restaurant on the corner of Scotts Valley Drive and Mt. Herman Road. The front room felt like a fiesta with living trees, strings of tiny multi-colored lights, sponge-painted orange walls and Mexican music.

Maya is known for its selection of almost 50 tequilas, some of which were aged up to five years in oak barrels. The large bar area includes a couple of televisions and sofas, and makes many of its premium margaritas with Gran Gala, an Italian triple-orange liqueur blended with VSOP brandy.

Crisp chips were promptly delivered to our table with a very good spicy cooked salsa embellished with raw cilantro and green onions. The Tortilla Soup ($4.95 or $2.50 with entrées) was not far behind. Strips of fried corn tortilla soaked up lightly flavored chicken broth from a cup that held mixed vegetables and melted cheese.

One of our favorite dishes, Mole ($16.95), was one of the daily specials. A large, butterflied, grilled chicken breast, boneless and skinless, was smothered in dark, sweet, Pueblan-style sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The cheese-covered refried beans were thick, and the rice was very nicely seasoned.

I say Maya's Dream ($14.95) came true. First, was the large, tender charbroiled steak; hot, juicy and medium-rare as requested and served with bright green guacamole with bits of tomato and cilantro. Then there was the lightly sauced enchilada with moist, shredded chicken breast. The final gem was an amazing chili relleno. Instead of the usual batter-and-fry technique, the pepper was steamed in beaten egg, giving it an omelet-like jacket. So generous its white melted cheese stuffing, it spread completely underneath the large serving of rice. 

Maya Mexican Restaurant, 3115 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley, 438-7004. Full Bar. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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