For about 25 years, 1163 San Carlos Avenue was the home of Sneakers Restaurant, a mainstay of the San Carlos restaurant scene and a normally buzzing family restaurant and sports bar. Last year, Sneakers moved to 650 Laurel Street, leaving vacant it’s fairly large space around the corner and leaving San Carlans wondering what would take it’s place in a still prime downtown location. There was a very curious — and very brief — appearance of a restaurant called Tacos and Tequila last Fall, which had a clearly underwhelming response and one of the shortest tenures in the San Carlos food scene.
Finally, opening this month is Mayan Restaurant, which bills itself as having more “authentic” Mexican food with more traditional and diverse options than the typical taqueria we see in San Carlos and elsewhere. It interesting to note, however, that by our count there are now 11 (yes, 11) Mexican restaurants in San Carlos, but most are the more common taquerias (the exceptions including the recently opened Stamp Bar & Grill). What’s even bolder is that Mayan opened next door to La Corneta, one of the larger and consistently popular Mexican taquerias in town.
For those who have lived in San Carlos a long time, the inside of Mayan will look very familiar, as they basically kept the old Sneakers layout, with the long bar across the left-hand side, booths across the right-hand size, and tables in the middle. The center island is gone, a bunch of the TV screens are gone (although there are still a few), and the decor is updated with brighter colors and Mexican-themed art and decor. Unlike most Mexican spots in town, Mayan is a sit-down restaurant. The menu is very large with many more options than one would expect — from breakfast, salads, appetizers, “traditional” plates, and lots of seafood choices. However, you still can get a burrito, tacos, or enchiladas if you want, but it seems best to go for items that are more unique to this place. One member of our party did have the enchiladas, which was a large portion of three enchiladas, however we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t order multiple meats but rather had to pick one for all three enchiladas.
There are not many places around where you find items like Molcajete (the stone bowl that contains meat, fish, cheese, peppers, and onions), Posole (traditional hominy soup/stew), as well as the variety of fish and shrimp dishes they have. Everything we had was very tasty, and the portions were very large — each of us had to take home food.
We went for lunch in the middle of the week, and the restaurant wasn’t very crowded. Given the fact that it is a sit-down restaurant with large portions, perhaps it’s better suited for the dinner crowd. We’ll have to come back in the evening to check it out. More importantly, we’re starting to see a saturation of certain cuisines in San Carlos with more direct “we’re right next door to you” competition (including the Greek battle on Laurel Street), so it will be interesting to see how both Mayan and La Corneta do and if they can co-exist on San Carlos Avenue.