Maíz, Canela y Cilantro
Type: Breakfast and Mexican/Comida corrida (A set menu that changes daily)
Neighborhood: Santiago, Centro, Mérida
Address: Calle 70 #464 between Calle 55 and Calle 55A
How to Get There from the Centro: From the Plaza Grande, take Calle 60 north and turn left on Calle 57. Take this to the “T” at Calle 70. The restaurant will be to the right, but it is recommended to turn left (you have no other option) and park near the Santiago church/park area.
Parking: Street Parking. As mentioned, parking in the spots at Santiago’s church/park area may be best.
Air Conditioned: No. Floor fans available.
Drinks: Aguas frescas (Fresh fruit waters) and coffee and juices during breakfast hours
Payment: Cash Only
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:00-4:00, Lunch service begins at noon
Pricing: Breakfast $40-$60 MXN, Lunch $50 MXN- fixed price (except for the few days each week that the chef prepares milanesa- a breaded filet of beef, chicken or pork for $60 MXN)
The Santiago neighborhood is home to a cozy little eatery known as Maíz, Canela y Cilantro- Spanish for Corn, Cinnamon and Cilantro, three prominent ingredients in Mexican cuisine. The old colonial building where it is housed is typical of the city and adorned with Maya art inside. The space is fairly small with a sparse amount of wooden tables and chairs, but it is recommended to be patient and wait for an opening if all are occupied. The wait will be worth it!
Do not allow the Maya pieces to fool you into thinking you will be served the usual Yucatecan cuisine because Ana, the owner and chef, is from central Mexico. Your taste buds will relish the flavors that are common far from the Yucatan Peninsula.
Your restaurant reporter strolled in on August 7, 2013, and found the main table by the front door available. Ana, who is very welcoming and shy, introduced us to her haven. The pride she has in her establishment is obvious. The kitchen is within view of most tables and the detailed labor is visible by all who dine. We were quickly informed that the establishment is one of comida corrida where each day you will find a different multi-course set menu with two options both for $50 MXN each. One option is always a vegetarian platter. She explained that you receive a fresh fruit water (agua fresca), chips with bean dip and salsa, a soup and an entrée.
The list of fresh waters was extensive and on this sultry August afternoon we chose the lime and orange waters to quench our thirsts. (You can get refills for $15 pesos) On this visit we felt like carnivores and opted for the albóndigas (seasoned meatballs) topped with a rustic tomatillo sauce, and a side of rice. The meatballs were well seasoned, not overcooked and very satisfying. We could have opted for the vegetarian dish which on that day consisted of a rice pilaf with squash and eggplant. We saw one go to another table and it looked equally as pleasing.
Ana quickly rushed our beverages and snacks out to begin our culinary experience. The soup followed soon after. We chatted and refreshed ourselves with the aguas frescas, as our stomachs anticipated the meal, encouraged by the savory scents escaping from the kitchen. The soup of the day was a typical sopa de fideo (pasta soup) with vegetables. It was very light, as it should be on a hot Yucatecan day. After the last drop of soup disappeared, Ana promptly delivered the delicious meatballs.
As we enjoyed our meal in this charming locale we kept pondering… What will be on tomorrow’s menu? Or the next day? The mystery of an ever-changing menu of delicious food will lure us back again soon!