Dine Downtown 2013: Mayahuel

Mayahuel Tequila Museo on Urbanspoon

For most part, January is not a big dining month in the restaurant world. The holidays are done and people are starting their resolution diets. Not so in Sacramento. We have Dine Downtown, which runs the 9th through the 18th, and the it is followed almost immediately by Baconfest, running the 20th through 27th. We are in a good month for eats!

I've been lucky to be asked each year to preview a Dine Downtown restaurant. Sponsored by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership to boost January dining, restaurants put together a 3-4 course meal for the prix fixe price of $30. This year 29 restaurants are participating. 

I usually ask to try a place that I haven't been to before. This year I asked for Mayahuel. My first experience with Mayahuel was when I had some samples at the Christian Brothers fundraiser last summer. They had my favorite bite (or sip) of the event - a chile poblano soup. It was so fantastic that I knew I had to go to the restaurant. I did a few weeks later to get that soup! I sat at the bar and ordered a cup of soup and the appetizer combo. But I still hadn't had dinner. 

Get this soup!
Mayahuel is on the corner of 12th and K under the back corner of the Hyatt. You can park at the Hyatt for $5 for two hours with a Mayahuel validation. It promotes itself as a tequila museum and so there is a large bar featuring tequila, a museum section with information on tequila, and then the dining room. They often have mariachi bands playing, as they did on Saturday night. I consider Mayahuel to be a high-end Mexican restaurant featuring regional cuisine that you won't find at casual Mexican restaurants. Oh, they have tacos and enchiladas, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you go for those conventional orders. Try their "Dishes that define Mexico" instead.

Last night I took my BFF with me to try their Dine Downtown menu. Most of the items are standard on their regular menu.  One that wasn't from the Starter choices was the Flor de Calabaza - Creamy Squash Blossom soup with infused tequila. This was unavailable for our tasting, and so we switched out and got the fabulous Crema de Chile Poblano (Chile poblano & cilantro give this soup a distinctive, spicy flare) instead. This soup is slightly spicy (mild to medium), but packed full of flavor. My BFF took her first spoonful and proclaimed it one of the best soups she'd had in her life. It's that good.

The other starter is a salad, Dios de Maíz - Crisp baby spinach, romaine lettuce, sweet corn, black beans, panela cheese,sesame seeds, chile ancho peppers with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette. The dressing says vinaigrette, but it's really a creamy dressing. It was courteously served on the side so that you could dress your salad as much as you like. 

The entree selections included a beef, chicken, and seafood (typical for DD menus) with an option for vegetarians to choose what they like off of the vegetarian menu. It should be noted that their menu is labeled with notations for both vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you have to eat gluten-free, there are a LOT of options at Mayahuel. A note that the chicken option (Pollo en Adobo - Chicken and mushrooms with nopales in a Guajillo, Pasilla, Morita chile Adobo sauce, served with white rice and Mexican zucchini slices) is not on their regular menu.

Our first selection was the famed Rib Eye with Chorizo - Rib eye steak topped with chorizo crust, a bed of seasoned mushrooms in our adobo salsa. I had heard rave reviews of this from Cavegrrl.com Kristy who reviewed Mayahuel for last year's Dine Downtown. Since neither of us like mushrooms, we had them leave those off. Kristy had declared it "the best steak ever". We also really enjoyed it. It was cooked perfectly medium rare and was a wonderful piece of meat. I was a little disappointed in the chorizo as I expected it to be spicier, but overall, it was a wonderful combination with the lovely green bean and pepper medley beside it.

I chose the Camarones Moctezuma - Fresh shrimp sautéed ‘al mojo de ajo’, with mushrooms, serrano chile strips, parsley and a splash of tequila. Served with cilantro infused rice. The shrimp were plump and well cooked. I liked that they were generous with the sauce as I hate when I get a skimpy plate. I found it light and refreshing.

We had them bring both desserts. The ice cream doesn't show on their normal dessert menu. This one was Nieve Flor de la Rosa - Vanilla ice cream with Mazapán (a peanut candy) drizzled with ‘cajeta’ and almonds. My BFF preferred this dessert and so it worked out well as I ended up preferring the other, the Arroz con Leche - Rice is simmered in sweetened milk and flavored with cinnamon and topped with raisins. The arroz con leche was a very generous amount in the parfait glass, too much even for dessert minded me to finish off.

We left very satisfied. BFF had been delighted with a good meal at a place she hadn't even heard about. I left with a sense of satisfaction that my meal was as good as I had foreseen it to be. Considering that Mayahuel still isn't a well known restaurant, it is one that is worth becoming familiar with.

Disclosure: Our meal was arranged by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership and comped by Mayahuel for this preview review.

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