Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meandering to Maria's for Mexican Food

Maria's Mexican Kitchen
163 W. Ontario Ave. Ste. #101
Corona, CA 92882

It's been some time since we have made our way out to Corona to see our good friend Anthony, and his wife Sabrina. Usually when we head out this way, I pick a restaurant. During this visit, they threw me for a loop when they had a place that they had wanted us to try. This took a lot of the pressure off of me, which was nice. Now the only pressure I would have was trying to make it through some of Sabrina's stories without falling asleep. Not an easy chore for sure.

Maria's is housed in a spot where we formerly did a review. Back then it was called the Twisted Gourmet, but they have since moved on to another spot in Corona. Maria's opened here in May of last year, and they do have another more established place in the Woodcrest section of Riverside. Since opening on the corner of Ontario and Main, Maria's has kind of gotten reviews all over the map on Yelp. It seems that people either love this place or hate it. I know, not surprising for Yelp, but it made me wonder which side of the fence I would land on at Maria's.

We got to Maria's at about 7pm on a recent Saturday night. The restaurant was deserted when we walked in, but soon after we arrived a large party filled the front of the place, which brought some much needed life here. Since Maria's has taken over this space, they painted the walls bright colors, added colorful furniture, had some plants strewn across the area, and added plenty of decor to the walls. The menu is pretty much what you would expect from a Mexican restaurant. Combo plates, burritos, tacos, and all of your favorite Mexican cuisine is represented here. I was pretty hungry after our long trip out the 91 Freeway, so let's see how this visit ended up for us.

We were given the customary Chips and Salsa to start things of with. These were some pretty stellar chips. They were fried nicely, while still being light. They were almost addictive. When the salsa came to the table, I was kind of let down by the appearance of it, but its flavor won me over. I typically like a chunkier version, but this salsa had enough heat to compensate for the lack of chopped up veggies. There were some nice pieces of onions floating around in there though. A very good version of chips and salsa, which got me excited for what was to come.

The appetizer section did not exactly inspire creativity at Maria's. They have eight items on their appetizer menu, and four of those are quesadillas. We went with their El Toro Quesadilla ($9.95). This large flour tortilla was filled with shredded beef and cheese, then served with sour cream. The menu says this comes with guacamole, but there was none to be found here. No matter, this was still a pretty good quesadilla. It was conveniently sliced into four pieces for the four of us, so there was no way Sabrina could have hogged it all. The quesadilla was not as greasy as I had thought it would be. The beef inside was tender, and this had just the right amount of cheese in it, so it did not overshadow the meat.

Most of the meals at Maria's come with your choice of soup or salad. Anthony is partial to their Caldo De Albondigas Soup. This meatball soup came in a broth with carrots and cabbage. Anthony liked the flavor of the meatballs. I had the Dinner Salad, which was just your basic salad, which included fresh greens, tortilla strips, your choice of dressing, and a sprinkling of cheese on top. I'm not sure what made this salad for me, but I really liked it. There was just enough dressing, plenty of crunch from the tortilla strips, and I liked the inclusion of the pepper on the side.

Anthony will start off our entree portion of this blog with his choice, the El Trio Grande ($16.95). This three item combination plate came with a pork tamale, chile relleno, a shredded beef taco, and rice. Anthony kind of was up in the air about his meal. He liked the tamale a lot. It was stuffed with plenty of pork, and then topped with cheese and red sauce. The chile relleno he felt was good, but he's had better. The taco was very average. Just looking at the almost white hunk of tomato on top of the taco would have turned me off too. Anthony is usually a big eater, but even he could not finish all of this food, so he took some home for the next day.

Sabrina is always predictable when going out for Mexican food, as she always gravitates towards a Two Cheese Enchilada Combination Plate ($9.95). As you can see, this was the case at Maria's as well. Sabrina used to be enamored with the food at Miguel's, but now she has switched allegiances to Maria's. She likes the red sauce here better, and the inside of the enchilada has a good amount of cheese. She likes the beans and rice here as well.

I guess I shouldn't give Sabrina such a hard time about getting the same thing, because Katie's a creature of habit when it comes to ordering Chicken Fajitas ($15.25). These are your typical restaurant fajitas, with sizzling iron plate and all. The chicken was cut into large strips, and served with onions, green bell peppers, and tomatoes. They come with your choice of tortilla, beans and rice. She of course got a side of Guacamole ($3.75). Katie felt the chicken here was juicy, but otherwise nothing spectacular. She liked both the beans and rice though.

I had asked the waitress about the carnitas, and she mentioned that the Chile Con Carne De Puerco ($15.25), also known as Chile Verde, was a better choice. Even though I did not have the carnitas here, I have a feeling she was correct. This was a really tasty plate. The pork hunks were very tender, and the chile verde had a little kick to it, which made my taste buds stand up and take notice. I had wished that the serving size was a little more generous with this though. The beans and rice were pretty good as well, with plenty of cheese topping the beans.

I think we all left Maria's satisfied with our meals. Now don't get me wrong, this is not life changing Mexican food here. It's good, middle of the road Mexican food, in an area that seems to have a love affair with Miguel's. This is better than Miguel's. Unlike at Miguel's, the food here taste like something. The prices are a little on the high side, but with most dinners you do get a salad or soup, so you will be leaving here with a full stomach. The service that we received on this night was pretty good. They were not crazy busy, so our waitress had plenty of time to make sure we were doing okay. Sabrina and Anthony ended up picking out a good place for dinner. I'm sure it was all Anthony's doing.

Out of five time capsules, (because the city of Corona hold the unofficial record for most time capsules lost, a staggering 17 of them within the city limits), five being best to zero being worst, Maria's Mexican Kitchen gets 3 time capsules.

Maria's Mexican Kitchen does not have a website, but you can find more information about them on their Yelp page, which you can see by clicking here:

Maria's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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