As we walked up to Maia restaurant (120 Pulpito in Old Town across from the Paradise Community Centre) a lady at one of the outside tables exclaimed, “If you haven’t eaten here yet, you need to. It’s excellent!” And so we did.
Maia: poetica cuisine is the new conceptual restaurant by Chef Hugo Ahumada who spent sixteen years studying alongside Chef Thierry Blouet of Café des Artistes fame. He has traveled the world and competed (and placed) in international culinary competitions.
Open since November, this delightfully quirky spot offers a modern sophisticated Mexican-International menu. Each week the offerings change based on what is freshest at the local markets. Every morning Chef Hugo visits the Emiliano Zapata market and every Saturday he shops at the Old Town Farmers Market in Park Lazaro Cardenas.
Taking a local, organic, holistic approach to both his food and the space, Chef Hugo offers his diners rich sauces, perfectly cooked local seafood and meats, locally sourced produce, Mexican wines, music and of course Tequila, Mezcal and Raicilla. Throughout the restaurant there are items of delight to feast your senses on – the entrance is flanked by a rustic door-now-table, each table is adorned with a handpainted heart made by children in nearby El Tuito ($100 pesos each which is donated back into the program), the walls are a diverse collection of local artist Tony Collantes works spectacularly hung and specially lit, from the ceiling hangs many dream catchers crafted by another local artist and the music is a selection of Mexican bands and musicians.
As someone who loves outdoor dining, I was thrilled to find the dining area in the back which is a shared space with the always elegant Villa Mercedes. Comfortable poolside loungers and umbrella shaded tables are a great place to enjoy a Mezcal mojito or guayaba colada while catching up with friends. The space is perfect for a party and in fact Chef Hugo explained to us about an upcoming wedding that will be using the space. With access to Villa Mercedes and the roof top deck, Maia can prepare the perfect meal and service to create a truly unique event.
For our meal we were served the five course tasting menu specially prepared for us. ($399)We started with a refreshing grilled citrus fruit salad, tossed in light vinaigrette and sprinkled with feta cheese. My taste buds moaned with pleasure as I licked my grilled mushroom with octopus and shrimp in Anjillo sauce plate clean. The Red Snapper papillotte was served perfectly steamed with the cutest miniature vegetables in a white wine and bacon cream sauce. The stuffed chicken breast was crispy in wrapped bacon and tender inside stuffed with a vegetable compote served with vegetables. The table bread was rustic and yeasty and delicious. (Which is rare to say about breads in Mexico.) Dessert was a traditional Capirotada ‘bread (and tortilla)pudding’ with dried fruits and nuts. Very rich and my stuffed belly could only take a few bites before my pants threatened to burst. The presentation of the food was always artistic and enticing. The service was five-star with an extremely knowledgeable waitress.
The guests that stopped us on the way in were more than happy to tell us that the vegetarian burger was fantastic and made with real vegetables (not just potato like so many are) and the beef burger was the best he’d ever had. (That’s a pretty bold statement considering this guest is a retired man who has likely seen his way around many a hamburger.)
Such is the life of a newspaper editor in Vallarta, I was forced to enjoy a decadent meal in an effort to share this wonderful restaurant with our valuable readers. The effort that Chef Hugo puts in sourcing and supporting local producers alone is enough to in turn support him, yet, you also get the atmosphere, the food, the service, and the art on the walls that makes this affordable restaurant a real treasure in our city. With summer upon us, businesses need our support. For your next meal in Old Town, stop by Maia. Plenty of seating and the pool area are great places for large gatherings. With the ever changing menu there will be something deliciously fresh for you to enjoy.
Pulpito 120-A, Col. Amapas Romantic Zone between Amapas & Olas Altas Puerto Vallarta
(322) 222 2597 / (322)160 4804