After months of procrastinating, I finally got around to visiting Maria's Cantina. My primary reason for venturing outside Memphis' city limits was to see someone from the past. One of the bartenders at Maria's is Meghan, a former Flying Saucer Girl who was one of sweetest servers who worked at the draught emporium. Also one of its hottest-looking ladies, Meghan was (and still is) a sight to behold by me and most of the regulars at the Saucer. Before I go further, I want to state that I do not have a "crush" on her, but rather an appreciation of both her beauty and service to me and anyone else thrusting for beer. So for old times' sake, I made the trek to Southaven.
Maria's Cantina is about as "Mexican" as Young Avenue Deli in terms of décor and atmosphere. As a cantina, Maria's is more like Neil's than Happy Mexican because of its festive environment with live music blaring everywhere. If this place were in Midtown, I believe it would rival places like the Hi-Tone Cafe for the party crowd (Maria's also has a location in Bartlett). However, I was there to say "hi" to Meghan while grubbing on some Mexican food.
In deciding what to order, I wanted something that was unique. I got my wish when I stumbled across Maria's Cantina's Mexi-Q menu. Incorporating barbecue into a traditional Mexican menu, most of the "Mexi-Q" consisted of entrées stuffed with pulled pork along with sides that most expect. Initially, I considered getting tamales, but changed my mind when I discovered the chimichangas (or as I call them, "chimmy chongas") on the menu. Not having one in a while, it was the obvious choice for me. The chimichanga comes topped with queso and drizzled with sweet barbecue sauce for an appealing appearance. The shell of the chimichanga was slightly crunchy (like a Ritz cracker) that meshed well with the queso, barbecue sauce and smoked pulled pork. With the rice, beans and other sides, the Mexi-Q chimichanga made for a nice late night dinner. Far from a truly authentic Mexican (or Tex-Mex) experience, the chimichanga was alright for what it was. I see it as evolved Taco Bell grub that the fast food chain might develop if it wanted to branch out into the casual dining/nightclub arena. Overall, it was decent and I have no complaints. Whenever I get around to revisiting Maria's, I want to try a traditional chimichanga with beef, chicken or other meats (including pork that's prepared differently) so I can get a better sense of the restaurant's capabilities in cooking Mexican food. Again, I want to state that I liked my chimichanga that seemed more American than Mexican.
SIDE NOTE: While I waited for my food, I wanted to check out some of the March Madness going on in the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Unfortunately, Maria's Cantina didn't show all the games that aired while I was there and in general isn't much of a sports bar. Fortunately, I had the NCAA March Madness Live app installed on my phone which gave me access to any game I wanted. The app works on both iPhone and Android platforms and performs great (at least on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone).
After finishing my dinner, I wanted to take a picture with Meghan. Unfortunately, she was too busy serving drinks and tending to others at the bar to do that. The fact that she was working her ass off debunks the bullshit of another blogger who gave her nothing but grief. This guy would harass her at work (both at the Saucer and Kooky Canuck) as well as post disparaging things about her work habits on his blog. A person (as in a douchebag) has to have low self-esteem if he gets his jollies from bullying others. Fortunately, Meghan is now working in an environment that's free of that kind of abuse and I wish her the best.
To sum it up, Maria's Cantina is a place that offers decent food in a lively environment that should appeal to both families and single people like myself. Aside from Meghan, the service is good and the restaurant has a lot to offer from margaritas to burgers (I've heard they're really good) to traditional Mexican fare. So, if you're looking for a nice experience in Southaven, Maria's Cantina is a good choice. When you go there, leave the "bags" behind and enjoy.
Labels: Barbecue, Commentary, Mexican, Southaven
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