- Matthew Schniper
Maria’s has been open just over a decade, although it changed ownership about 2 1/2 years ago, explains my notably friendly and professional server/cashier, named Eric. He says he worked under the prior owners for a year or so, and he much prefers the food Maria’s puts out today versus the menu of the past.
He cites better and fresher ingredients, as exemplified by the best-selling fish tacos. But by this time, I’ve already ordered and enjoyed a filling, $10.75 plate of sopes. I was able to choose my own meat, going with carnitas, which arrive oily and properly tender with nice fatty bits intermixed with browned-edged pulled pork threads. Above the pork: shredded lettuce, perhaps a bit too much sour cream, and typical grated cheese mix. Below: refried beans (in addition to those served as a side with Mexican rice) atop the dish-defining, thick, fried masa discs. There’s a pleasant doughy texture to the sopes’ interior and rich corn flavor, not overwhelmed by the lightly seasoned pork.
Only when I add condiments of mild chile verde and a rojo sauce — vinegary with a medium Japanese pepper heat, and chile de árbol earthiness — does the dish express any bolder flavors. I load on the latter, seeking a little spice burn, plus it best complements the pork. I watch the to-go counter pile up with orders and vow to return not at lunchtime, to indulge in a bomber of Mexican beer with dinner and maybe a plate of barbacoa — something else Eric recommends.