Cochinita Pibil and Rosé

“Think of our menu as our homage to Mexican and Mayan food, techniques, and methods,” says Nico Sanchez, executive chef at Meso Maya in Dallas.

Used to enjoying typical Southern California Mexican food, I knew I’d be in for a different experience in the heart of Dallas. It began upon entering the restaurant. A relatively open dining room bathed in warm earth tones and a surprisingly modern mix of wood, stone and tile accents set the scene. These elements continued upstairs into another large dining area, though its feel skewed slightly more impersonal than the floor below.

Indeed, when the room began to fill up, the clanking-flatware-on-ceramic-plates and lively conversations made the space a bit too cacophonous to fully enjoy the evening. That aside, one glance at the menu and Chef Sanchez was correct — the Mayan and southern Mexico influence was woven into everything from entradas y postres, to aperitivos y Oaxacan cocktails.

My selection of Yucatan-style braised pork was fantastic despite being a bit salt-heavy. While the menu describes it as being accompanied by “tangy orange, achiote sauce, white rice, black beans, pickled red onions, habanero salsa and handmade white corn tortillas,” the description doesn’t do the flavors justice. The earthiness of the achiote combined with the pork and cool zing of the pickled onions created a savory, heavenly bite. The rustic, comforting handmade tortillas performed their role as additional utensil flawlessly, so that every element on the plate wouldn’t go to waste. Add in a dry rosé with earthy minerality, and the already elevated flavors were bumped up yet another notch. The food-friendly nature of many rosé wines keeps me coming back time and time again.

In all, an enjoyable time at a place that has won the hearts of locals since 2012. If you’re looking for drowning-in-cheese-and-sauce dishes or anything “Tex-Mex,” as is so common in these parts, this definitely isn’t your place. But if you’re interested in experiencing a culture through artfully curated ingredients, Meso Maya is ready to welcome you.

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