Maya is equal parts sweet and spicy with a dash of love |

Maya is equal parts sweet and spicy with a dash of love

EAT Maya 3 KA 11-26-18 Kristin Anderson Maya’s classic guacamole with tuna and a sandia tajin (watermelon margarita).
If you go ... What: Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria, a hip, modern Mexican kitchen. Where: Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, 126 Riverfront Lane, Avon. Cost: Starters and small plates: $10-$17; Entrées: $14-$38. Signature dish: Carne asada More information: 970.790.5500 |

A little bit of magic exists right in Avon. Maya Modern Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar is equal parts sweet and spicy with a dash of love for an overall experience that warms the heart, fills the belly and makes spirits bright… not only from the food but from the obvious camaraderie of the staff.

Chef Richard Sandoval created the menu and opened the restaurant six years ago. “It’s just magic,” says Executive Chef Angel Munoz. He adds that it’s the lack of ego and the family-like team that makes every plate stand out. “I love this place. We help each other a lot and in life too. We bring everything together, and it shows in the dishes.”

And it does, whether starting out with the mixed-just-for-you tableside guacamole (be sure to try it topped with the ahi) or the kale salad. Everyone thinks kale salad’s 15 minutes of fame is up — not this kale salad. It’s gently massaged (to remove bitterness and make it more pliable) and then combined with slices of juicy grapefruit, crunchy cashews, apples, creamy goat cheese and tossed in a light serrano sherry vinaigrette.

After perusing the six pages of cocktails, spirits and wine, a margarita might seem the obvious choice — all are made with fresh-squeezed juices. Don’t rule out the other choices: the Parce Old Fashioned is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s evening.
Sip slowly and move onto the main course — Chef de Cuisine Veronica Morales’ favorite is the carne asada. She should know, as Munoz explains, she melds passion and flavor in every dish. Tender slices of flank steak atop fire-grilled vegetables, roasted till their flavor almost bursts off the plate — peppers, squash, zucchini, asparagus, set on a black bean puree, tortilla and achiote sauce. The colors, flavors and taste come together, well, magically.

Munoz waxes poetically about tacos: “They bring people together, they’re something to share.” Certainly, the tacos are a celebration but they’re hard to share, as you won’t want to give any up. At any Mexican joint, fish tacos are a favorite; at Maya it’s easy to see why. Grilled mahi, perfectly marinated, then covered with chipotle slaw, avocado and pico with roasted corn make for a tangy, tasty taco. The accompanying sauce, with simple, classic ingredients of tomatoes, chili, onion and garlic, boosts the beauty.

All of the salsas, by the way, are made by Lead Prep Cook Rosa Centono, “the mama of the place,” who marries the flavors to perfection. Each batch can take up to seven hours to create.

Settle back in the oversized booth under the amber Mexican lights, gaze out the ground-to-floor windows that overlook Beaver Creek and dive into the ridiculousness that’s Mexican Fried Ice Cream. Roasted bananas flank the plate with deep-fried pistachio, vanilla and dulce de leche ice creams, covered in rolled corn meal — a heavenly coating of crunch and sweet, drizzled in a rich chocolate sauce. If you’re in the sharing mood — and Munoz thinks you should be — the chocolate mole cake is barely sweet yet dense and moist; add the passion fruit sorbet and berry sauce with chili for the perfect end to a delicious evening.

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