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Maria, Maria offers Mexican inspired dishes and live music

By by camille m. dotycdoty@vicad.com
June 13, 2012 at 1:13 a.m.

Mushroom Chicken Maria is grilled chicken breast with sauteed mushrooms, cheese, pico de gallo and avocado. The meal also includes refried black beans, guajillo rice and salsa verde at Maria Maria Restaurant in Austin.

AUSTIN - There's just something about the Warehouse District that made me want to dance in the street.

The live music and semi-opened lounges immediately drew me into the scene.

Carlos Santana's restaurant, Maria Maria, is no exception.

The Mexican inspired restaurant nestled in the heart of the city is modeled after a brick warehouse with fantastic art.

The brick walls are covered with skeleton portraits and candles in little nooks added character.

I sat near the bar area and couldn't hear the recorded music because the television drowned it out.

But I didn't want to make a fuss, the Stanley Cup Finals were on after all.

The restaurant probably has a different vibe on the weekend, because they offer live music Thursday through Saturday including El Tule.

I loved the ambience and it's a plus to be able to make reservations.

The musical influence from the legendary musician is sprinkled throughout the place in the 400 block of Colorado Street.

This particular restaurant is one of four in the country. The other three are based in California.

The waiter, who also served as the bartender, greeted me and my guest with a warm smile. He was knowledgeable about the entrees.

I appreciated his honesty about the dishes. He gushed about his favorites and gave a lukewarm response to others. I could read between the lines.

I ordered a frozen pomegranate margarita. One word - delicious. The consistency was perfect, it wasn't too strong or too sweet.

The bartender said they were known for their margaritas, and after one sip, I understood.

The tortilla chips were warm and fresh with the right amount of salt. They came with ranchero and roasted tomato sauces. I preferred the ranchero, my friend liked the latter.

So many entrees sounded delicious, but I went with the Mushroom Chicken Maria. It was a grilled chicken breast with sauteed mushrooms, cheese, pico de gallo and avocado.

The meal also included refried black beans, guajillo rice and salsa verde.

I found the chicken to be well-seasoned, but a little overcooked.

The rice contained a little corn, which gave it a nice texture. I could take or leave the beans.

Next time, I would ask for a substitution or double rice. The presentation for each dish was impeccable.

Although I had little room, I squeezed some in to eat the churros. Yum! They were four sticks of cinnamon placed in a martini glass, with an ice cream sundae in the middle.

This was a fun place that I would recommend. To get the true Mexican flare, I suggest going on a night with live music.



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