2776 W. Main Street
Wappingers Falls, NY
OK, technically Café Maya isn’t within our defined parameters. Main Street? Yes. Poughkeepsie? Well, for those Hudson Valley aficionados amongst us, what is the difference between Wappingers and Poughkeepsie, really?
Last Friday night we departed from our normal trajectory to Café Maya in the village of Wappingers Falls, NY. Zoe and Nina just did a bang-up performance celebrating the end of their weeklong Choral camp at Vassar College. Our latest intrepid adventurers of Pok-Mex cuisine, Ann and Kate, came to see the girls, and joined us for dinner. It was a consensus (amongst the adults, at any rate) that Margaritas were in order, and dammit, Café Maya pours a good one!
Café Maya is one of those wonderful Mexican restaurants that appeals to the more mainstream clientele of the Hudson Valley. Every time we go there (Margaritas), the place is hoppin’- televisions blaring over the full service bar, a host/hostess that will seat you when your party is properly assembled, and a waitstaff of high school students whose English is flavored with that particular lilt that can only come from a Dutchess County native. As far as atmosphere goes, about as far as you can get from the blissful Main St. Poughkeepsie dives.
And, did I mention, they have Margaritas?
The overall experience of Café Maya is not centered on the food, but rather the atmosphere. There is a sizeable outdoor seating area with doors that open to the bar, where said Margaritas can be had. No, I am not a tequila snob. I did not ask for the Patron/Cointreau johnson that would cost lord knows how much- just gimme what you gots. Salt, on the rocks. Anne and Kate went for the frozen flava- they have a big Slurpee lookin’ machine for those. And, props to the bartender that fashioned a sweet and sour with lime fizz for Zoe and the classic Shirley Temple for Nina.
The simple Margarita went quite nicely with the fresh Blue Point oysters they serve with lime and a slightly-too-strong salsa. The girls were sorely disappointed that the oysters won out over the tableside guacamole, which Zoe swears they made start-to-finish in less than a minute. It takes her at least 5 minutes to make her soon-to-be world famous guacazoe. But oysters on the half shell, lime, and Margaritas on a Friday night with friends? Yeah, that’s right!
I admit to being seduced by the Pollo Pibil. This is a chicken dish slow cooked in a banana leaf with achiote, a combination of traditional Mayan spices, and Sevillian orange juice. While the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and the spices subtle, I was somehow underwhelmed. Rob and I split the dish and their Ensalada Caesar, which boasts a ‘Classica Tijuana’ style, but seemed little more than iceberg with some tomatoes and croutons. Bor-ing! Nina destroyed her simple quesadilla (chicken quesadilla is a flour tortilla with melted cheese and grilled chicken on the side), and Zoe her bean and cheese burrito- and to their credit, they got it right for the kids! Anne did not quite finish her tacos de pescado (Tilapia tacos complimented with guac, lettuce, tomatoes and a ‘chipotle mayo sauce’), so Zoe and I helped out. Of course by the time we’d gotten to them, the corn tortillas were flaccid, and the bland flavor did nothing to bring them back to life. Satisfied with the Margaritas, we chose not to order from the predictable flan/fried ice cream/churro desert fair, also to the girls’ dismay.
Overall, Café Maya is a great place to go for a good time with friends- good drinks, easy atmosphere, friendly and helpful waitstaff. But if you are seeking a authentico Mexican diaspora meal, go to the real deal on the real deal Main Street in Poughkeepsie!