Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cactus Isn't Only Decorative

It's edible. And delicious.

I learned this on a lunch time trip to Maya Mexican Restaurant in Prescott, the true definition of a local hole-in-the-wall. Tiny and locally owned and run, Maya makes "authentic" New York Mexican food seem like a Taco Bellian experience.

Tucked in a back booth, we ordered guacamole to accompany our complimentary chips and salsa. The guac was thick and full of fresh and ripe avocado. A horchata--rice milk on ice with sugar and nutmeg--washed down the spicy salsa.

One house specialty included an eggplant and cactus burrito, a foreign delicacy for this New Yorker. Ribbons of tangy cactus provided bite next to pureed eggplant, all of which arrived rolled in a flour tortilla, swimming in red enchilada sauce, and adjacent to a heaping portion of refried beans and yellow rice.

The bill for three was an incredible 30 dollars, despite our add-ons (horchata, guacamole, Mexican hot chocolate, an additional shredded beef taco), though we had to travel elsewhere to find the optimal afternoon dessert, a certified Mexican Coca-Cola. If you know where to look, you can find 12 ounce glass bottles of Coke, imported from Mexico. Mexican Coke contains no corn syrup, a hold out to sodas of the past. They use actual sugar, something we Americans see very little of in commercial drinks. But the sodas, like so much else of our meal, felt authentic and a tad hedonistic, especially for those of us who have sworn off white sugar and flour in favor of a healthier existence.

But never mind. You can't win them all.


Maya Mexican Restaurant
512 Montezuma Street
Prescott, AZ 86303

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