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Maya Opening Set for Friday, September 24

From Mac to Mexican

Tequila and mezcal cocktails will accompany regional Mexican dishes at the forthcoming Maya on Upper King
Tequila and mezcal cocktails will accompany regional Mexican dishes at the forthcoming Maya on Upper King (Andrew Cebulka/Maya)

By Robert F. Moss

Indigo Road Hospitality Group has announced that its latest Charleston restaurant, Maya, will open for business on Friday, September 24th.

Billed as “a regional Mexican eatery,” Maya will be taking over The Macintosh’s former space at 479 King Street. Indigo Road shuttered the Mac in March.

Executive Chef Brett Riley’s pedigree in the cuisine comes from up North, not down South, for he’s a veteran of several Mexican restaurants in New York City, most recently serving as the executive chef of Casa Publica in Brooklyn.

Riley’s new menu for Maya will include esquites, duck confit carnitas tacos, escabeche, and a chipotle shrimp-filled quesadilla. As one might guess, the cocktail offering will center on tequila and mezcal, anchored by margaritas along with cocktails made with ingredients like tajin, ancho, and tamarin.

The Maya offering includes handmade tortillas and coastal-inflected Mexican dishes
The Maya offering includes handmade tortillas and coastal-inflected Mexican dishes (Andrew Cebulka/Maya)

The shift to Maya seems an indicator of the evolving character of the Upper King Street district. When the Macintosh opened in 2011, Executive Chef Jeremiah Bacon's hyper-focused farm-to-table menu wowed local diners, and the restaurant led the emergence of Upper King as Charleston's trendiest dining strip. The Mac’s best plates—seven ounces of beefy ribeye deckle, tender braised rabbit topped with shaved ricotta salata, fish bologna sliders with tart pickled pepper tartar sauce—seemed unfamiliar at first but they delivered intense and unexpected flavors with each bite.

The quality of the Macintosh’s menu never waned, but its rustic decor (Edison bulbs, lots of dark brown wood) and farm-to-table vibe seemed increasingly out of step amid the gleaming new hotels and gourmet ice cream and doughnut shops catering to a surging tourist trade.

The new Maya will boast “a zen modern aesthetic” with lots of bright white colors and reclaimed timber, which certainly seems more in keeping with the times. I will be curious to see how the upscale Mexican offering lands with the shifting mix of locals and out-towners.

Initially, Maya will offer dinner service Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with the bar remaining open for the late night crowd until 2 a.m. on the weekends. A late night food menu and weekend brunch will be added in the weeks to follow.

Charleston

About the Author

Robert F. Moss

Robert F. Moss is the founder and publisher of The Southeastern Dispatch as well as the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living magazine and the author of numerous books on Southern food and drink, including Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, and Barbecue Lovers: The Carolinas. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.