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Maria Maria Tempe Marketplace?

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dessertrules Mar 26, 2008 06:55 AM

Anyone try this new restaurant yet? Mexican food restaurant owned by Carlos Santana. This is only the second location with the original in Walnut Creek CA. We love mexican food at our house but live in Queen Creek so I am hoping to see some reviews before we make the trek.

  1. m
    mymamona Mar 26, 2008 12:51 PM

    my daughter went there last night. She said it was sooooo good. thats an excellent report from a 14 year old.

    1. r
      razordogg Mar 26, 2008 05:40 PM

      Here's an early review with some photos:

      http://thedish.freedomblogging.com/20...

      1 Reply
      1. re: razordogg
        drewb123 Mar 26, 2008 07:42 PM

        I read about this place on azcentral can't wait to try it the menu is awesome plus I love sangria!

      2. johnseberg Apr 17, 2008 08:28 PM

        I had lunch at Maria Maria, today. I was very happy with it. My coworker had the Chicken Enchiladas Suizas ($14), and I had the Braised Short Ribs ($19).

        The Short Ribs were served boneless on a dark mole, topped with poblanos. It was very good, and I didn't even eat half of the large portion.

        The fact that the chips and salsa were so good might have spoiled my appetite.

        We had a team of four servers, all very friendly and efficient.

        The article to which razordogg linked was accurate and informative.

        The map on this site is helpful: http://tempemarketplace.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: johnseberg
          d
          dessertrules Apr 17, 2008 10:09 PM

          We ate there for dinner the night after I posted the question. I loved the beef short ribs. They were well flavored, very tender and had no visible fat. My husband ordered the carnitas and after he tasted mine wished he had ordered them also. We also loved the key lime tart. The corn pudding had a great flavor but was a bit on the dry side. We will be going back again. We had great service and considering we were there in the first week or so it was open service and food were very good. My husbands only complaint was too much ice in the margaritas.

        2. s
          southwesteater Apr 22, 2008 03:35 PM

          We had an rather poor experience with this restaurant this past weekend. We went by an hour earlier in person to make a reservation for 7pm for 8 people, only to have the same person forget that she took our reservation. After being seated, it took us 20 minutes to get a waiter to take our drink order. The manager came by, apologized, and gave us a free guacamole. We ordered, then waited another 40 minutes to get our food at 8 pm. We were given a round of drinks for free for our troubles. Not sure if this was an off day or not, but I don't think I'll be going back any time soon. Food wise, I thought the enchiladas were not that good (beef, chicken or suizas), but the pork carnitas were pretty decent.

          1 Reply
          1. re: southwesteater
            b
            boingo2000 Apr 23, 2008 08:40 AM

            I think the fact that they recognized the problems and comped you some apps and drinks speaks well for the restaurant. Those types of gestures are enough to convince me that a place is worth trying again.

          2. azhotdish May 10, 2008 02:18 AM

            We had a party of five tonight at Maria Maria and it's quite obvious it's still a work-in-progress; our service was terrible, quite frankly, and the food did not really draw any raves.

            I attempted to make a reservation via OpenTable.com this morning, and they only had openings for five at 9pm - good sign. We took our chances as walk-ins and arrived to a half-empty dining room, yet we were forced to wait about 20 mins (my poor parents and out-out-town sister arrived 15 mins before us) with the empty tables being held for guests that would arrive shortly. The hostesses really didn't seem to have a clue what was going on, and it took several trips to the desk to finally get seated outside (our request). We were seated under an enormous ceiling fan, and were quite comfortable. The menus were placed before us, yet it took about 10-15 mins for our server to appear to take our drink order. Probably 10 more mins went by and our drinks appeared and the orders went to the kitchen. The high point was the chips and salsa.

            The dark salsa de arbol was spicy and very good, easily my favorite; the tomatillo and other salsa were also good, just with less punch. The chips were hot, fresh and salty, so there were no complaints all around. Our server miraculously appeared to replenish the chips when they were gone, but we didn't see much else of her after this.

            I ordered the short ribs others have mentioned; this is a dish I'm comfortable making at home so I'm always curious to see unique preparations of an often-overdone dish. What I simply could not understand was how they prepped the ribs - they were served boneless but they didn't seem to take much care trimming the fat. I asked our server about it, but she was clueless and admitted to never trying them. The kitchen manager arrived after a few minutes, and I inquired as to why they had left so much fat - he proceeded to inform me they are cooked in a braise, "which is kind of like a confit". I didn't really know what to say - I told him I was familiar with the preparation and just wanted to know if they always leave the ribs so un-trimmed. He asked if I wanted another order, and I appreciated the offer, but I really wasn't that hungry and didn't want to wait again seeing my first order took about 30-40 mins. What was irritating is that the mole was actually very very tasty and I really liked the roasted chilis served on top of the ribs, but said mole also had a strange grit in it that I couldn't identify - not good. The same manager came back over and had talked to the chef who said they definitely should not have been as fatty - whew, at least we can chalk it up to someone just not paying attention. Rice and black beans were served family-style, and they were pretty average and under-seasoned. It took quite some time to get a second round of drinks, and we also got the chocolate orange cake to-go. Our bill never arrived, and we needed to flag another server down for that small detail.

            I didn’t get to try any of the other entrees unfortunately. My entrée was comped, as was dessert, to make up for the wait. By the manager’s attitude, he seemed to want to make things right, but the service clearly needs to be focused and ramped-up for a busy weekend night; the patio was filled, but there did not seem to be enough staff to handle all the diners. The setting is lovely and spacious for a Mexican restaurant, which is a departure from so many other places in the Valley. I would be willing to return when I know they’ve worked out the kinks in the kitchen and front-of-the-house, but for now, it may be still too new to give it a fair shake.

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