La Chaya Maya | Merida Yucatan Restaurant

Directly after dropping my bags at the hostel we drive back to my cousins house, pick up her mom (my aunt) and head to a restaurant called El Chayo Maya.

Chayo is a leave, that resembles the Maple leaf, but green. Its made into tea and juice. It’s very healthy and has been made into juices, here in the Yucatan, for a long time. I’ve never tried it before, so I decided to give in and try it.

We get to this large restaurant. Very popular. My cousin tells me the lines go around the block every weekends. It’s one of the few restaurants that have sampler platters. As we enter there’s a lady dressed in traditional garb (an Ipil — A traditional dress), hand making corn tortillas next to our table. We sit and order. Guess what we ordered? The sampler platter! It has four bowls of different things. It’s stuff my family makes at home. I’ve tried other restaurants in California that have a “Yucatan” section of the menu and its never that great, not bad, just not great.

In the direct center of the picture is Queso Relleno, to the left of the pickled union is the Pipian Rojo

The four dishes consist of: Cochinita Pibil (a pulled pork dish)… This dish is baked in a cocktail of red spices and simmered for hours… sometimes up to 24 hours (or at least that’s how its make at home). Its served on a tortilla (as a taco) or as a sandwich, inside of french bread. Its topped with picked red onions and chilly as hot as you can handle. I can’t handle chilly. No Chilly for me.

Queso Relleno (filled cheese): This cheese dish is basically a few block of what they call “cheese ball.” It gets its name because this giant cheese is literally the size and shape of a basketball. It’s a strong flavored cheese. They cut it into blocks, melt it slightly and put some ground beef. They add a flour and cheese made gravy on top of it. I think its amazing and my mother makes a good one as well.

Put Negro (put… i think the spelling is off): Basically a beef dish in black spices. The stew is thick and black. It almost looks like blood sausage. It tastes a little smokey and peppery. It’s good too. My parents also make this at home.

Pipian Rojo: Basically another redish chicken dish. The spices make this one red, but this one has always been my least favorite. It was today as well.

The result? Amazing deliciousness. Ive never had food

Picked red onion to the left. To the right of the onion is the cochinita pibil. Directly above it, the black stuff, is Put Negro.

this good outside of my mothers house. This really is the homeland.

After our food, even though we were so full, we got dessert. Traditional dessert from the Yucatan. I’ve never eaten any of this back home. You can’t find it. We got another sampler platter. This one came with three desserts. Candied Nancer. Nancer is a round fruit, the size of a grape. It’s sweet to begin with. Followed by candied Papaya —I don’t like papaya, but what the hell, right? And a dessert called the Broke Cowboy or Caballero Pobre, which I’ve never heard of before. This one was a smothered bread pudding.

Everything was amazing and worth it.

Let me break it down for you:

Should you come here? Yes! On a week night there is no line out the door.

Is it expensive? I don’t remember it being super pricey but I was treated, therefore I can’t really tell you.

Totally worth it.

Candied Papaya (left), candied Nancer fruit (middle), Caballero Pobre (right)
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