The latest addition to Washington D.C.’s 14th Street corridor, Maiz64 brings regional Mexican food to the completely reimagined former BToo space. Walking in, the contemporary feel of the stylish design comes alive and a large communal table catches your attention. Surrounding the room are details of art and decor from small Mexican artisanal producers. The dining area is spaciously planned, and the perfectly pitched lighting sets the tone for a chic night out.
The mezcal cocktails we started with were delicious, and we could easily have drunk our way through many more of the tempting mezcal-based recipes on the menu. The beverage program, which features a variety of agave-based spirits, is created by veteran bartender and mixologist Arturo Rojas, who is based in Mexico. Rojas has over 25 years of experience and has written books about Mexican cocktails. The wine list is curated to showcase a number of Mexican wines along with other selections. Tempted, I selected a Mexican Chenin Blanc and sipped it for the remainder of the meal.
My eyes devoured the options on the food menu, which easily warrants multiple scans, and offers diners a mélange of vegetarian, pescatarian and meat options. The tuna tostada we started with includes a generous portion of sliced tuna with ponzu, ginger, spicy mayo and a salsa macha, accompanied with a crunchy tostada. The kick from the spicy mayo and crunch from the salsa makes for (multiple) fun bites.
I knew I had to try something with mole, so I decided on the broccoli taco. It was absolutely delightful, with a generous, beautifully flavorsome mole topped with charred broccoli and served on a blue corn tortilla. It’s now an absolute favorite, and one I will be going back for. Various other dishes from the comal — a traditional griddle heated with wood found in most Mexican kitchens — are also available: suckling pig, steak, squash tacos, a huitlacoche quesadilla and more.
The grilled octopus with pastor marinade was also very good: It was tender with a nice flavor, and the grilled pineapple and eggplant ash made for a nice accompaniment. For a finish, the sweet pineapple relish harmonized with the smoky octopus. A box of warm corn tortillas is provided with the dish, so you can choose to make your own tacos, or eat the tortillas by themselves as I did. Of course, I didn’t expect anything less from a restaurant named after the Mexican word for corn (pronounced — Ma-eez) and its incredible number of 64 varieties, hence the restaurant’s name.
The next dish — steak — came on a bed of mushrooms and a mushroom pate. It was well-seasoned, cooked appropriately and delivered in a generous portion.
Finally, dessert was fabulous: The churros were light and just sweet enough, and the accompanying chocolate sauce was enchanting. Although I’d have preferred the sauce be served warm, this did not deter me from polishing off the entire plate. Pastry Chef Elisa Reyna brings her experience with the flavors of Mexican sweet traditions and French technique to the restaurant and doesn’t disappoint.
El Comal — a multi-course tasting experience — will also be added soon, offering diners an interactive experience over the comal. Maiz64 will showcase an evolving menu of traditional Mexican “antojitos” (street food), starring seasonal ingredients. Expect to see items such as a tetela, a triangle-shaped tortilla filled with a wild mushroom ragout and green pipian sauce, as well as a tostada with kampachi, a dish comprised of apple puree, tomatillo relish and fennel, in addition to various tacos.
The food at Maiz64 is impressive, exhibiting a modern approach to traditional flavors. The entire experience is captivating and fantastically executed. The service is friendly, but not overbearing. Our dishes were timed nicely and servers read our table well. You could also sense the passion everyone working there has for the food.
We were thoroughly thrilled by all the dishes, and we weren’t alone. The party at the next table remarked to us on their way out, “That was great, right?”
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