Maria’s: Fresh, Delicious Mexican Cuisine in Cairo
Ahmed El Mezeny
Tucked away in one of the corners of the Fairmont Heliopolis in Cairo is Maria’s, a small, delightful and orange-hued Mexican eatery.
As the maître de ushers you into the average-sized restaurant, you’ll be shocked by the bright orange and red colors. If we didn’t know any better, we’d think we were blindfolded and shipped into Mexico.
When sampling Mexican cuisine, though; aesthetics – especially the restaurant’s decor – rarely matter. Instead, we were anxious to try the Fairmont’s rendition of Mexican food. If the complementary corn chips (fresh out of the oven) and divine salsa seasoned with mint were omens of good things to come, we were definitely in for a treat.
As with all Mexican restaurants, Maria’s provides the always much-needed beverage: the margarita (48LE). Setting the bar a little higher for Mexican joints in Egypt, Maria’s even provides kiwi and strawberry flavours in addition to the regular lime version. The drink packed quite a punch – with maybe a little too much tequila for some people – but was made pristinely, with the salt sprinkled on the rims; not smeared down the sides.
For starters, we opted for a bowl of fresh guacamole (55LE) and a salad. The most innovative take on guacamole yet, at Maria’s the waitress will make the dip right in front of your eyes (it really can’t get fresher than that) and you can even instruct on how much onions, garlic and chilli to add. The result is a heavenly mound of green bliss, which was lapped up with our fingers when the chips were gone.
The de naranja y betabel salad (50LE) was as gourmet as Mexican food can get. The collection of fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, baked beets and orange jelly cubes were seasoned with caramelised almonds, resulting in a mixture of flavours that was both refreshing and indulging.
Maria’s chicken enchiladas (90LE) were also pretty gourmet by Mexican cuisine standards. Four soft tortillas stuffed with rice and minced chicken were coated with sour cream and mole poblano sauce (a chocolate and cinnamon mix). The flavour combinations on this dish really give a new spin on the term ‘sweet and sour,’ and will have you scooping up the mole sauce with whatever’s left on your plate.
The chicken fajita (95LE) was served on a hot plate with some grilled vegetables, warm tortillas and sour cream as well as guacamole and tomatoes. Not too greasy and cooked to be just the right kind of tender, Maria’s fajita is probably one of the best – if not the best – that you can get in Cairo.
If you’ve still got room for dessert, they’ve got a monstrous concoction: a chimichanga (a deep-fried burrito – yeah, that’s right: deep-fried) filled with decadent, sweet fillings. Maria’s also provides some complementary cotton candy with your cheque: pretty much about all that we had room for.
This place may not be the prettiest joint in Cairo, but their cuisine is by far top-notch, and we really can’t stress how good their guacamole is – really.