Maria, Maria La Catina

8 Jun 2008 In: Tempe

Disclaimer: I am sucker for good margaritas and Mexican food.

Ah, Maria, Maria, how I do love thee. Well, I think I have died and gone to heaven with our latest Talking Dish reviewed restaurant, Maria, Maria. Located in the Tempe Marketplace, the restaurant serves what I would call a variety of Cuban-infused Mexican dishes. It’s the second restaurant owned and operated by Carlos Santana, and he doesn’t disappoint with this venture.

Once you sit down, you will notice this restaurant has a different atmosphere than most in the Tempe area. It has a boutique, Old Town Scottsdale feel with Day of the Dead paintings and a chocolate brown interior minus the pretentious waiters and overpriced dishes.

All diners receive chips and a variety of salsas, but we also started with their House Guacamole. The Guac was fresh, spicy and yummy at all the right time. If you’re a fan of guacamole that has chucks of avocado then you will like this guac. It’s available in a seafood version which we hear is great too. We also started with the Maria, Maria Margaritas. These margaritas will blow your socks off. They don’t skimp on the tequila and are made with fresh lime cordial. The result is blissful. If you don’t like your margaritas with a kick, I would suggest asking them to go light on the tequila.

We’ve visited the restaurant on several occasions. Each time we have never been disappointed with our main courses. Notable dishes include the Beef and Chicken Enchiladas Suizas and the Beef Burrito Maria. Here’s where the Cuban-infusion comes in. The beef at Maria, Maria comes from slow-cooked, short ribs. It’s out of this world compared to traditional Carne Asada.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had the opportunity to try dessert due to the limitations of our stomachs after the guac and entrees. The traffic at the restaurant has definitely picked up since its opening. You may want to arrive early on Friday and Saturday evenings as the wait time can tick up quickly.

Overall Cost Estimate:

  • Appetizer’s: $6-$14
  • Entrees: $14-$21
  • Margaritas and Cocktails: $7-$15
  • Deserts: $7

Overall Thoughts:

  • Live music on the weekends
  • Great, but pricey food
  • Friendly, attentive service
  • Be prepared to search for a parking spot and possibly wait for a table during peak periods
Click here to get directions to Maria, Maria.

Z Tejas

7 Jun 2008 In: Scottsdale, Tempe

Z Tejas in Tempe, Arizona

Z Tejas serves southwestern style cuisine which seems to be contemporary cross between American and Mexican, but without the traditional Mexican feel. The food is really quite good for a quasi-chain restaurant, with multiple locations and a consistent menu from location to location. I got the diabalo chicken pasta, which is about 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced and prepared over a linguine type pasta. It’s a bit spicy if you eat the peppers, but is amazing in the taste department. Since the place has a contemporary southwest/mex feel, you might want to go with the margaritas, which have a serious dose of tequila, probably about 2.5 shots per margarita, so make sure not to have more than two unless you feel like getting a little out of control. I usually get the Patron fuzion margarita, which literally has a shot of patron floating on top – excellent if you like patron! They have multiple restaurant locations, my favorites being in Tempe Arizona and Scottsdale Arizona, since they are my local spots.

Overall Cost Estimates:

  • Appetizers: $4-$9
  • Entre’s: $12-$20
  • Margaritas: $5-$9
  • Beer: $4-$5

Overall Rating & Suggestion:

  • Rating: 8.5 TD’s (Tasty Dishes)
  • Best for quite bite to eat before a night of drinking, a good lunch, a night out with a big group or a dinner with visitors in town (when you don’t want to blow your budget).

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Our purpose is simple: to provide honest and accurate reviews of restaurants we visit. We're not restaurant buffs or experts, we just know when a restaurant is cool, when food is good and what a reasonable price is. Let us know if there are places you'd like to see, or feel free to add your own review. Talking Dish is an Arizona restaurant review website for the Phoenix Arizona cities including: Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Glendale and more.