It’s all about the margaritas baby – Riviera Maya, Stamford

31 Oct

Let’s lay it all out on the table right now–I consider myself to be somewhat of a Mexican food snob. I’m not sure where in my life I earned that right, considering the closest to Mexico I’ve ever lived is Atlanta, but nonetheless, here I am. In fact, when I moved to CT, I thought there couldn’t possibly be any GOOD Mexican food around here. Clearly, I was mistaken.

Riviera Maya is one of those restaurants I’d categorize under GOOD Mexican. Not fantastic, but definitely good and reliable. On our recent visit I ordered the Atlixo (which I clumsily flubbed the pronunciation of 3 times): two crispy fried tortillas topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado, sour cream, and best of all, strip steak. While the steak was cooked medium rare, just as I like it, and very nicely seasoned with a little salt, garlic, and perhaps some cumin, I don’t think I’d order it again. Overall it was a bit bland compared to other items they have on the menu (like the Taquitos Pastor de Pollo Danny’s going to tell you about).

Ok, now here’s where Riviera Maya goes from just good to GOOD: FRESH GUACAMOLE and JALEPENO MARGARITAS. Yep, both take the award home for best I’ve ever had!

The guacamole is made fresh at your table, exactly as you like it. Choose from any or all of the typical ingredients: onions, cilantro, tomato, salt, pepper, fresh-squeeze lime juice, and jalapenos to go as spicy (more please) or as mild (lame) as you want. The finished masterpiece is served up in a heavy stone bowl placed in the center of the table (or right in front of my face if you’re dining with me).

To wash it all down is the most fantastic margarita that both cools the senses and burns the tongue at the same time: the jalapeno margarita. Not too weak, not to strong, get it frozen or on the rocks, you really can’t go wrong with this ying and yang cocktail, which is just spicy enough to give you that tingle, but refreshing enough to wash down the spiciest meal.

And, to round out our score of 3.5 noms, the wait staff is friendly and accommodating, service is fast, but unhurried, and the prices are reasonable.

Noms: 3.5
Cost:  $$
Riviera Maya
Address:  20 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 588-9400

Riviera Maya on Urbanspoon

14 Responses to “It’s all about the margaritas baby – Riviera Maya, Stamford”

  1. Alicia November 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Looks like I might have to take a field trip south once I move to West Hartford.

    Jalapeno margarita alone sounds like its worth the trip!


  2. Dan Del Ferraro November 11, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    You’re from Long Island? Nice. How was it to move to LA? I guess good because some of your family is still there! :) El Torito was awesome. We used to go there with my Popi and we’d always order the fried ice cream. Remember it came out on fire? :) I was actually in San Francisco a few years back and guess what I saw??? El Torito!!! The El Torito that was in Lake Grove is now a Kids R Us store or something lame like that. Very sad. It’s weird, but now you could walk almost anywhere on Long Island and you’d find some really great Mexican places. Really amazing change in demographics.

    Thanks for reading and for your post…means a lot :)


  3. Howie November 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    That is so funny Dan! I left Long Island for Los Angeles in 1992 when the only Mexican food was Taco Bell and El Torito! Sadly the family I still have left there does not eat Mexican or Latino food.

    Like your new blog! Good luck!


  4. Linda Madia November 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    A very enjoyable meal shared with 2 of my favorite people! Guacamole was the best I’ve had so far!


  5. Dan Del Ferraro October 31, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Coming from the cold, tough streets of Hauppauge on Strong Island, I’ve known some great Mexican places. Riviera Maya can keep up with these guys, though I definitely agree that their strong points are: drinks, table-service guacamole, and the Taquitos al Pastor de Pollo.

    That being said, one of my favorite things to do at a restaurant is to ask the waiter for his advice or ask what’s good. I cannot say I was disappointed with the two margaritas that he threw my way. 1) Chipotle Margarita. This was served frozen and was reddish in color from the chipotle that was mixed in. It had a smoky and spicy taste to it that I loved, though Kristien wasn’t crazy over it. 2) Negra Modelo. Also served frozen, this margarita had Negra Modelo poured and mixed into it. I know it’s daring…mixing beer and margarita, but maybe I’m too trusting. Well, it was really great. You got the sweetness of the margarita, the deep flavor and hops of the beer, and the kick of the tequila. Serious stuff.

    My entree, the Taquitos al Pastor de Pollo, did not disappoint either. This was some of the moistest and softest chicken that I’ve had in a Mexican dish, wrapped up in a soft taco. Throw in bits of pineapple–don’t worry, it wasn’t overpowering at all–with the tomatillo sauce and chile Huajillo sauce, and you have a real winner. I fight with myself when I come back here because I want that dish, but I want to try more of the menu. The Taquitos usually win. ;)

    My dessert, though, wasn’t worth getting, and I’d venture to say that dessert is not Riviera Maya’s strong suit. I had the Tres Amigos. I’m an ice cream fiend, so this dessert sounded fantastic: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream served with cinnamon chips. To begin with, the ice cream had frosted over so it was crunchy. I know some ice cream is meant to be crunchy, but this seemed that it was frozen at some point and was ruined. The cinnamon chips at first seemed like they would be a great contrast, but after scooping some chocolate ice cream and chomping down I wasn’t happy. Stronger than the cinnamon was salt. I love salt on my chocolate and desserts, but in small quantities. This was quite a disappointing way to end the meal.

    Overall, though, I do love this place. I’d just have dessert somewhere else.



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