Mexican Flavors / Authenticity reigns, from chilis to char
Taqueria Los Mayas
The vegetable taco (on right) is a delicious zucchini/corn/mushroom mixture, with great char
Photos by Eric Frick
Taqueria Los Mayas
3525 Genesee Street
906-3730 or taquerialosmayas.com
The first sign that we made the right decision in driving out to Cheektowaga to eat at a small, nondescript taco spot at a busy intersection was when we walked in about 6:30 on a Thursday night and every seat was taken; we had to wait more than fifteen minutes for a table. The smell of warm tortilla chips was in the air and, once we sat, service was rapid.
A basket of warm tortilla chips came with salsa verde, which is made with tomatillos rather than the tomato-based salsa with which many Americans are more familiar. Salsa verde always takes me back to when I worked in a heavily Latin Brooklyn neighborhood with multiple taquerias, where salsa verde is served with just about everything. It’s more tangy than spicy, bursting with flavor. The Taqueria Los Mayas version was just how I remembered it.
We ordered a chile relleno appetizer, which came with guacamole and had just the right amount of smokiness and heat from the poblano pepper. The menu features quesadillas and burritos as well as less-common-in-America options like sopes (a fried corn cake traditionally thicker than a tortilla, with vegetables and meat piled on top) and tortas (Mexico’s answer to a sandwich). We, however, went for the tacos: cactus, vegetable, fish (not breaded or fried), beef barbacoa, el pastor, and chorizo/potato.
The vegetable taco featured a mixture that I’ve seen called calabacitas in other restaurants; it usually involves corn and some type of squash, maybe lima beans, and/or mushrooms. This one is a delicious zucchini/corn/mushroom mixture, with great char. Char also appears on the el pastor (pork and pineapple). The beef has great texture and flavor.
Taqueria Los Mayas also features a toppings bar with loads of hot sauces, as well as cilantro, radishes, and onions. The space is no frills, but pleasant and comfortable, and beer and wine are available.