Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequilaria in Avon brings Mexico to the mountains | VailDaily.com

Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequilaria in Avon brings Mexico to the mountains

Kim Fuller
Special to the Weekly

Editor's note: This article was previously published as a paid feature in EAT, a compendium of restaurant snapshots featuring the best in Vail Valley dining. Look for it on newsstands everywhere.

If you're not jumping on a plane to Mexico, the next best thing is to enjoy a flight at Maya. You can peruse and choose from the restaurant's collection of over 100 agave-based spirits; the featured tequila flight is a great place to start. Try a tequila in its forms of blanco, reposado and añejo, and don't miss out on a taste of the double-barrel tequila that is exclusive to Maya — it's a very sip-worthy spirit that takes on some characteristics of a fine Scotch whiskey.

Chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval developed Maya to be rooted in tradition, while savvy to contemporary inspiration.

"We achieve innovation through playing with traditional flavors and dishes, while using contemporary plating techniques and cooking methods that make these unique ingredients look and taste great," explains Executive Chef Angel Munoz. "Our authenticity also lies with our people — they have a love and passion for their culture and we include them in the creation of recipes and dishes so they may come from a very traditional source. We then take that and make it our own."

It's easy to pick out the classics here, but they are always done with extra flavor and flare. Guacamole is crafted tableside, combining serrano peppers, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and topped with cotija cheese. Queso fundido is a rich and delicious way to begin, as melted cheese and pico de gallo deliciously dress homemade tortillas.

Keep it classic with an order of chicken tinga, brisket or grilled mahi-mahi tacos, each served with unique toppings alongside rice and black beans for a satisfying combination. The crab and shrimp enchiladas bring some delightful ocean flavor to the table, wrapping together lump crab, shrimp, corn, spinach and roasted peppers.

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The slow-roasted pork carnitas are a house favorite. Chef Munoz says the dish begins as a confit of pulled pork shoulder cooked with condensed milk, oranges and Mexican spices for more than six hours. It's then served on avocado puree with requesón cheese, black bean puree, and pickled vegetables on a blue corn tortilla.

Though the chicken with mole poblano and caramelized plantains has long been a menu staple, a new dish for this winter is a duck breast with lentils and plum mole.

"Duck definitely has a winter feel and we are pushing it to the next level by adding this delicious and traditional Mole de Ciruela," says Munoz. "If you love duck, you are going to love this dish."

For dessert, cinnamon churros come with a trio of sauces — spiced chocolate, cajeta and vanilla cream. And keep the tequila coming, or switch it up with a hand-muddled margarita.

If you go …

What: Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequilaria, Modern, spacious and welcoming restaurant and bar.

Where: Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, 126 Riverfront Lane, Avon.

Cost: Starter $8-$16; entrees $14-$30.

Signature dish: Slow-roasted pork carnitas with avocado puree, requesón cheese and black bean puree on a blue corn tortilla.

More information: Call 970-790-5500 or visit http://www.richardsandoval.com/mayabc.