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Awesome Arepas and Pupusas hit Commack!

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Stopped by this New latino restaurant in Commack called Maize Cantina. Saw a post in Newsday and thought I would check it out. They serve tradional pupusas and arepas in a non traditional way. Pupusas can be served tradtional (with slaw and spicy tomato sauce) or they have others like "El Cluck" Roasted chicken chipotle hashbrowns, pickled onions, melted jack cheese. That one was very tasty. We also liked the La Mer Arepa which was stuffed with mexican shrimp, preserved tomatoes, avocado, and crsipy plantains. Their was a lot of items to choose from. The Maize de Cantina app was delicious. Chargrilled corn with chipotle lime butter, cotija cheese and cilantro. Haven't seen food like this on the Island until now. Will be going back very soon, especially since the highest price on the menu was $10.50 (skirt steak dish on pupusa end).

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  1. Totally agree!! My husband and I went there a couple of weeks ago and loved it. We had a great salad with beets (and I never liked beets before), an arepa with chicken, and a pupusa. All were delicious, but the salad and arepa were exceptional. They didn't have a liquor license yet, so they were giving out free strawberry daquiris. A lot of people brought their own wine or beer. I highly recommend it!

    1. Sounds great. Is it a sit down restaurant or take out? Where in Commack is it?

      4 Replies
        1. re: emarcus

          Thank you. Will have to try it.

          1. re: emarcus

            Need to try this place -- sounds very interesting. But you are so right about the location. Nothing has suceeded there -- it's very difficult to see from the road. I have a feeling you need a "destination" restaurant in that space (how about, "Kitchen, A Commack Location"?).

            1. re: sbp

              Yes it is located in a difficult spot. but the food speaks for itself! hopefully the word will get out about this place . I took my family of four to dinner there this past weekend. all I have to say is OMG!!! the portions were huge. the prices were fantastic!! wait staff very attentive and friendly!! and in the hard economy that we live in , to be able to go out to dinner leave very full , statisfied, and come home with doggy bags for under 50.00 is major plus in my checkbook!! LOL . Kudos to you MAIZE CANTINA!! I look forward to visiting you again. My kids are still talking about that HUGE plate of nachos mixtos!

        2. Dang! Tried to go today (Sunday) and it was closed. Supposed to be open Sundays, looks like they closed for Memorial Day weekend. No sign on the door, which didn't help.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sbp

            Checked it out Saturday night for dinner with 3 friends. Still BYOB until they get license but they did give us a free margarita! The quality and freshness was unbelievable for the price. Baja Grill can learn a few things from Maize Cantina! Chef has a major resume-which is evident in the food. He also mentioned he was adding several new soft tacos to menu after memorial day. Recommend the El Griego Arepa with lemon chicken, feta, spinach and an delicious chile yogurt sauce. We also loved the yucca in the nachos mixtos and the homemade sals. FYI- the pupasa and arepas are gluten free,

            1. re: beans08

              Can't wait to try it. Baja Grill has been going downhill for 5 years, at least. I won't even go there anymore. I actually walked in with the family around 2pm once, we were the only people there except for a table of four playing cards. No one came to give us menus, drinks, anything. After 15 minutes, we got up to leave -- then one of the people playing cards asked if we wanted a menu!

              1. re: sbp

                just curious, are pupusas and arepas generally gluten free, or does this restaurant make a special effort?

          2. Wow! Just ate there with the family. Excellent both in conception and execution. Everything is clearly made to order -- and with care. The chef really pays attention to details.

            The little things done right -- the Corn with chipotle butter/cotija, for example, was nicely browned, giving it that popcorn aroma and slighlty caramelized bite. The cotija added a
            great touch, too, like sprinkling parmigiano on grilled vegetables.

            The pupusas and arepas were perfectly grilled, retaining a crunchy surface, but tender and flavorful inside. I was intially apprehensive about a pupusa/arepa based menu, since they can be like lead hockey pucks, but these were hearty without being heavy.

            I had the El Cluck pupusa and an El Rey arepa (shredded beef, fried yucca chips, black beans). I know, it was more than I could eat, but I wanted to try one of each. Both the pupusas and arepas are basically thick masa tortillas (or maybe more coarsely ground cornmeal -- had a more "grits" like texture than a masa taco tortilla). The arepas are griddled plain, then split and stuffed with the menu choice. The pupusas are filled with beans and cheese or pork/cheese, etc. prior to griddling, then topped withe menu choice.

            We also split churros for dessert. Comes with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a little bowl of melted chocolate (and a nicely intense chocolate at that).

            Looking forward to returning. It's different and good.

            4 Replies
            1. re: sbp

              Going back for another meal with the family tomorrow night. Their review came out in Newsday today. Now I hope I can still get a table at this little gem in commack! I have been craving a pupusa. The free margarita is a definate plus. Will report back.

              1. re: cia93

                We went back last weekend. The remolacha salad is one of the best salads I've ever had. Perfect combination of flavors, and the lemon vinaigrette was very lemony. Our waiter was a bit lost (no salsa with the chips, forgot the sodas), but still a delicious and inexpensive dinner. And the Clipper advertising mag that came in the mail even had a buy one get one entree coupon!!

                1. re: sbp

                  Wow, who read the review! They got it right on target. Have been back a few times since my last posting and have enjoyed everything. Did not have any issues with my server, but they were quite busy when I went on Saturday afternoon. Check out the specials next time you are in, very nice pulled pork arepa.

                  1. re: beans08

                    One thing the review got wrong: the hours of operation. They're closed on Mondays (something I discovered only after a 45 mile round-trip drive)

            2. Went with companion and had one "tasting menu" and one pupusa with the works. Also, free margaritas. Great salad, really good salmon dish and awesome rice pudding. Got the bean & cheese pupusas with garlic brown beans...very filling. Happy to find out the chef/owner uses some produce from Rottkamp Farm and he's all about gluten free. Will be back and am spreading the word. However, it did make me want to go to the Red Hook ballfields (or wherever the vendors have gone that were at the Red Hook ballfields...Brooklyn Flea/Coney Island).

              5 Replies
              1. re: sjz

                I am planning to get take out tomorrow for dinner, since I'll be in the area in the afternoon (hope they're open at lunchtime). I will report back!

                1. re: sjz

                  Yes -- SPREAD THE WORD. This is the kind of little gem of a place that lasts for about a year because of it's location and the fact that it's menu is off the beaten path. Let's not let this place fail and get replaced by another red-sauce Italian joint (which I like, but on Long Island we have 1 for every 3 people).

                  1. re: sbp

                    I was googling them to get their address and saw they have on line coupons: 1 free entree with the purchase of another entree and a beverage. That's gilding the lily!

                    1. re: coll

                      I don't want to cast this as a hard-and-fast rule, but it's usually not a very good sign when a restaurant starts putting out coupons.

                      1. re: Scott_R

                        That's probably true when a place has been in business for some time but I would venture to say it's a grand opening draw to get people in to try the food. with so many restaurnats to choose from we all look for deals. Didn't know they have a tasting menu as well. I'll be going tomorrow and will report back!

                2. Thanks so much for posting about this place! Went today with family and we loved it. Fresh, tasty, decent prices and huge portions. We shared the empanadas as an appetizer--delicious. Then I had an arepa with slow cooked pork in a spicy mango sauce with pickled red onion. Fantastic. Brother had an arepa and a pupusa platter...SIL and DD had "plainer" fare that they custom built themselves--staff was very accommodating and pleasant, even when it got very busy.

                  I live in Brooklyn and would be a serious regular if this was nearby. Send everyone you know!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Budino

                    Got take out Friday afternoon and we had a wonderful dinner that night. The waiter who got my order was the nicest person, so friendly and personable. Couldn't decide so got 3 dinners (all for $26!) : Shrimp arepa with avocado, Greek lemon chicken and feta arepa, and grilled skirt steak papusa with peppers, onions and tomatilla salsa. So good we ate them all up, the cats didn't even get any leftovers! The cole slaw that came on the side of the papusa was the best I've ever had, and the homemade fried plantains that came with the others were so thin and delicate. Used to live right there but now it will just have to be a destination for me instead. Worth the drive. PS the coupons are for eat in only.

                    1. re: coll

                      Finally made it out to Maize Cantina, while at at Deer Park outlets nearby enough--had late lunch, they couldn't have been more nice or accomodating, especially with a toddler in tow. They were able to adapt what I ordered for dietary restrictions I'm following--had the Greek chicken arepa without spinach, and with avocado instead--husband had the chicken arepa with chorizo, and got platter of garlic beans, rice,--plantain chips--and flan for dessert, subsitituted the citrus sauce for dulce leche. Dessert beautifully served, arepa's were fresh and filling, and the lemon chicken so moist and perfectly cooked. Beans and Rice couldn't have been hotter heatwise,--was told salsa was excellent and tasted almost middle eastern. Cute comfortable place, and prices are very fair. We will make a point to return. Anyone had the tostones there? Next time we'll get the puposas--

                      Noticed THE BAKERY in the same strip mall, what happened to that place, I remember years ago, there was one in Roslyn that had killer russian coffee cake, but everything in there, and on a Friday, no less, looked dried out, or burnt, or tasteless--extremely unappetizing looking....not worth a visit at all----

                  2. My 18 year old son and I ate here on this recommendation about 2 weeks ago while in LI on business. Thank you! Enjoyed it very much, food was delicious and fresh. Our waiter, Anthony was very attentive and made excellent suggestions. Can't wait to go back, we don't have this in Richmond Va!

                    1. Rated Number 1 tacos on Long Island yesterday in Newsday! We have enjoyed eating here since Maize Cantina opened and were so happy to see it as Number 1. Stopped in today for lunch and everything was delicious as usual. Congrats to what I consider to be the best restuarant on the island with such great prices.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: beans08

                        The NY Times has nice things to say this weekend, guess they'll be around for a while now.

                        http://events.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/...

                      2. Vistied yesterday - excellent fish tacos. Also tried the La Lechon which is an arepa "sandwich" with pork shoulder, pickled onions and mango mojo. Delicious. This is in the shopping center on the northside of Jericho Turnpike with Nokado Jui Jitsu and Northgate Dry Cleaners. The restaurent is a little hidden but worth finding.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Siobhan

                          what kind of fish was in their tacos?

                        2. Looks like the fish changes as it is posted as fish of the dia'. when we went it was wild striped bass (local)!

                          1. Do they have horchatas or anything like that? Their web site only listed alcoholic drinks.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Scott_R

                              Can you post their web site? Thanks

                                  1. re: synergy

                                    does their website work for you, because it crashes on me and in the descrip for it on google it says it's an extermination company...my virus software says it's dangerous and stay away..i mentioned this to them when I was there, and they said they had fixed it, but it still doesn't work for me.

                                    1. re: janie

                                      Never had a problem--then again, I have a Mac. :)

                                      Finally went there today--no horchata, but the waitress said she'd mention it to the People in Charge.

                                      I had the El Pollo arepa; grilled chicken, chorizo, avocado, jalapeno chimi-churi. Very tasty, but I was puzzled by the presence of cheese on it--the description didn't mention any. I realize that cheese (especially queso blanco, which isn't what this was) is common in Central/South American dishes, but I'd presumed the mention of it in the descriptions of other dishes and the omission for this one was meant to be descriptive (one reason I'd ordered it was that the other items specified the inclusion but this did not).

                                      1. re: Scott_R

                                        Back last night with my nephew; we both enjoyed it quite a bit.

                                      2. re: janie

                                        No, I have no problem at all accessing their web site. I have a PC.

                              1. Just found out they have their liquor license now.

                                1. Saw the happy hour specials on Newsday. Will go down on Sunday for the 3 beers and chicken wing special.$15
                                  I saw the 2 for 1 margarita special. Wonder if top shelf is included in the deal?

                                  1. Was there 2 weeks ago on Saturday night -- at around 8pm. Food was excellent, as always. And for the first time since we've been going, the place was PACKED!!!!

                                    Looks like the liquor license made a big difference.

                                    Phew!

                                    1. In case anyone doesn't know, Maize has a Facebook page you can become a fan of. They have been posting some cool happy hour deals and this weekend we took advantage of the Yankee takeout special (3beers, 2 quesadillas and chipotle glazed chciken wings for $20. Hope they have it again for Wed. night

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cia93

                                        At Maize a few weeks ago and it was excellent. The Arepas were terrific and the ambience was really nice.

                                        ~Fred19

                                      2. We finally got to try Maize Cantina last night. EXCELLELNT! Started with their soup of the night, a tomato based soup with shrimp, cilantro, and other spices-terrific...salad...I had 2 pupusas, 1 chicken with the hash & the shrimp with onions/peppers, both terrific. Partner had an arepa & pupusa, don't remember which. Neither of us could finish our dishes. The chips tasted a little stale, but the salsa is outstanding! We will be regulars here, as the list of specials sounded and looked terrific (we kept getting whiplash looking at the plates coming out)..and the menu has so many dishes we wanted to try. Service is very friendly. Food is fantastic.

                                        -----
                                        Maize Cantina
                                        1141 Jericho Tpke # 1, Commack, NY

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: synergy

                                          glad they are expanding their specials and doing well..wish they'd fix their website for mozilla and xp because it still crashes on me---

                                          1. re: janie

                                            Trust all the positive feedback on this subject thread, even if their web site crashes on you. Go & enjoy. You won't be disappointed.

                                            1. re: synergy

                                              I have been----see my post above somewhere...i'm not in the area, so don't get there too often...

                                            2. re: janie

                                              Yeah, I love Maize Cantina, but I think they need to have a bigger selection of non-pupusa and arepa entrees. For some folks, pupusas and arepas are just too "heavy." Also, the chef is clearly talented, it would be great to see him go further afield.

                                              PS: The remolacha salad is perfection.

                                              -----
                                              Maize Cantina
                                              1141 Jericho Tpke # 1, Commack, NY

                                              1. re: sbp

                                                I asked the waitress about this last night - she said that is the plan to have more entrees on the menu in the next month or so. He is using specials and the restaurant week menu to test things out. The potato gratin that came with my wife's crispy pork last night was delicious. I wish the rice was better - I find it boring and blah

                                                1. re: jmax

                                                  Went to Maize Cantina for LI Restaurant Week tonight. Had the lobster quesadilla and pork chicharron, amazing. Layers of flavor. My husband also loved his dish, the steak was cooked perfect and the all dishes looked visually beautiful. We also talked to the waiter and he informed us that the chef is going to remove some the arepas and pupusas from the menu to make room for entrees like he is showcasing this week. Good move, we love the arepas and pupusas but this chef is too talented not to put more complex dishes on the menu. Also noticed some great new happy hour specials, tonight was $4 mojitos from 5-7.

                                                  -----
                                                  Maize Cantina
                                                  1141 Jericho Tpke # 1, Commack, NY

                                          2. Good call Beans. I went for restaurant week last night as well. Loved the corn pudding. Chef said they are putting it on the menu full time. Had to try the lobster quesadilla as a second course. So tasty! Then the steak with a potato and chorizo hash, spinach and chimichuri. I can eat that all day. Last night the drink special was a beer or margarita and a shot of tequilla for $7. I'm going on NFL Sunday for the $15 combo platter (sliders, wings, quesadillas and tostones I believe) and a bucket of beers for $10.

                                            1. Went in for dinner on Sunday to beat the snow blues. Saw they are offering a $30 -3 course and $50 -5 course menu for New Years Eve. I don't remember everything on the menu but there was a scallop dish, Lobster quesadilla, crab and calamari salad, striped bass (don't remember what it was served with). It comes with complimentary champagne. Or was that just for the 5 course? Sounded like a pretty good deal so we will be attending just so I can have that Lobster quesadilla again. Delish.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: cia93

                                                I'm on their mailing list, so they sent me a copy of the menu:

                                                New Years Eve Menu
                                                (3 courses for $30)
                                                Appetizers
                                                Tomato/lump crab and calamari salad/ baby arugula/garlic crisps/orange aioli
                                                ******
                                                Sautéed sea scallops/ corn pudding/chile glazed mushrooms/shaved fennel/brown butter sauce
                                                ******
                                                Lobster quesadilla/baby arugula-pickled onion salad/sunny side egg/bacon/truffle vinaigrette
                                                ******
                                                Petite pork chicharron/roasted garlic hummus/avocado/tomato jam/lemon vinaigrette

                                                Entrees
                                                Sautéed wild striped bass/cockles/fondant potatoes/broccoli rabe/chorizo- garlic broth
                                                ******
                                                Char-grilled hanger steak/cauliflower puree/creamy spinach fritters/asparagus/chimichuri
                                                ******
                                                Pan roasted French breast of chicken/chipotle polenta/wilted spinach/wild mushroom stew
                                                ******
                                                Sautéed salmon filet/roasted tomato couscous/shrimp-mango relish/lemon-herb sauce.

                                                Chef’s 5 course tasting menu
                                                ($50 with a champagne toast)
                                                Amuse
                                                Braised shortrib arepa/queso fresco/baby herb salad
                                                ******
                                                Tomato/lump crab and calamari salad/ baby arugula/garlic crisps/orange aioli
                                                ******
                                                Sautéed sea scallops/ corn pudding/chile glazed mushrooms/shaved fennel/brown butter sauce
                                                ******
                                                Petite pork chicharron/roasted garlic hummus/avocado/tomato jam/lemon vinaigrette
                                                ******
                                                Char-grilled hanger steak/cauliflower puree/creamy spinach fritters/asparagus/chimichuri
                                                ******
                                                Choice of Dessert/ coffee/tea/decaf

                                                Dessert
                                                Molten chocolate cake/warm chocolate sauce/ honey crisps/vanilla ice cream
                                                ******
                                                Brown butter-coconut cake/caramelized rice pudding/cheesecake “mousse”/strawberry compote
                                                ******
                                                Pear –Almond cake/dulce de leche ice cream/orange coulis/praline milkshake

                                                1. re: Scott_R

                                                  Has anyone had any of these dishes beside the lobster quesadilla mentioned above?

                                                  1. re: janie

                                                    I had the pork chicharron during LI restaurant and it was delicious. My husband has tried the pan roasted chicken with polenta and loves it. We made a reservation for New Years Eve at Maize Cantina and are really looking forward to this special menu. The chef is wonderful and for the price, you will not find a more delicious dinner.

                                                    1. re: beans08

                                                      I've also had the chicken and thought it was great. It's also nice to see him incorporating more entrees into his menu. Very talented chef.

                                                      1. re: sbp

                                                        Went last night for new years eve prix fixe--had the $30 option--also, want to mention that the kids menu is so reasonably priced, 2 sliders and big portion of fries for only $5. The hostess couldn't have been more sweet or accomodating, and our waiter, Anthony was adorable and helpful. Menu is posted above, and we had :

                                                        Sautéed sea scallops/ corn pudding/chile glazed mushrooms/shaved fennel/brown butter sauce--
                                                        This had 2 scallops nice size, and it was good, however bit undercooked which I just dealt with, but frankly I would've prefered them cooked properly all the way through---and the dish overall should've been hotter, heat wise---I am someone who likes my hot food hot and my cold food cold.

                                                        Lobster quesadilla/baby arugula-pickled onion salad/sunny side egg/bacon/truffle vinaigrette---husband did not read the egg here, and hates eggs like that,,so this was his mistake--so, he just slid it off and ate everything else....I was expecting something very different looking, and did not like the cheese inside the quesadilla or it's sogginess...would not order this again.

                                                        next:
                                                        Char-grilled hanger steak/cauliflower puree/creamy spinach fritters/asparagus/chimichuri--the steak was really excellent and cooked perfectly to my specification, tender, juicy and all the flavors perfectly melded. Would definitely order again...the spinach fritters though need some help, they were like a puree inside, unappetizing looking..would do more of a fresh spinach, scallio prep and then fritter them...
                                                        ******
                                                        Pan roasted French breast of chicken/chipotle polenta/wilted spinach/wild mushroom stew---My husband, thought this was going to be white breast of chicken, but instead was small breast with a chicken leg---he does not eat dark meat, and when he asked about it, word was the leg was thrown there as extra---they need to reword this on menu--and they should have given him another breast because it was way too small...and it did not indicated dark meat at all-----but, he liked the dish a lot barring the leg--I thought it was a bit dry.

                                                        Next:
                                                        Molten chocolate cake/warm chocolate sauce/ honey crisps/vanilla ice cream--this was very good, but I've had much better

                                                        Brown butter-coconut cake/caramelized rice pudding/cheesecake “mousse”/strawberry compote--did not understand this at all---too soupy, not enough delineation of flavors, and and there was no carmelization that I could taste. Not enough coconut either---

                                                        My overall impression was a lot of attention to execution, but failing on flavors in many respects. I really like their arepas a lot, and for the opposite of this, nice execution and beautiful flavors. I think the scallops and steak achieve this balance well,--and the flan I've had was very good--but there's definitely some tweaking and testing that needs to be done.

                                                        But, price was fair for amount of food, and again, they couldn't have been nicer and the atmosphere is pleasant, quiet and comfortable. We'll be back when we can---if it was in our area, we'd eat there a lot.

                                                        Thanks for the heads up about the menu.
                                                        ******

                                                        *

                                                        -----
                                                        Maize Cantina
                                                        1141 Jericho Tpke # 1, Commack, NY

                                              2. Went to the Cantina Last night for Dinner. Good as usual. Nice to see them packing out. I was hoping this gem would stay hidden so we can have it for ourselves. Also nice to see the chef is always creating new items to the menu. We had a John dory special with pickled fennel salad and crab, cous cous and I forgot the sauce but it had a velvety citrus flavor. It was awesome. My wife had the special boneless buffalo cube. Basically it was a crunchy cube shaped chicken wing without the wing. I'm still wondering how they got it to stay like that. no hands needed for that one. The wiatress told us about a murder mystery night they are doing with a 3 course meal. Anyone ever go to one of those. It sounds cool.

                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                    .
                                                    ...

                                                    ?.this place has been gone for awhile