EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dining Duo are a couple of foodies who enjoy eating out and sampling the local cuisine in the Mid-South. To ensure the reviews are unbiased and that the duo remain anonymous, their identities are masked behind their favorite comic book heroes.

 

Maria’s Cantina

6717 Airways Blvd

Southaven

 

4 POWs

 

I’m not sure I knew what to expect when I walked inside Maria’s Cantina. But I knew from reading the menu online that it was’t going to be a typical traditional Mexican restaurant, that’s for sure. At first glance, I’d say the menu struck me as a cross between sports bar food crossed with Mexican dishes. They describe it as “Mexican with a twist,” and I’d have to agree that’s pretty much right on the money.

I was impressed by all they had to offer - burgers, enchiladas, chimichangas, rice bowls, quesadillas, sandwiches. In fact, it was downright hard to choose. “There was a lot that sounded really good,” my Atlantean colleague Aquaman said. 

I expected the server to bring out the usual basket of chips and salsa, but that was’t the case. But when you see all of the fun, unique and tasty sounding appetizers on the menu, you understand why they don’t include it with your meal. I mean, who wants just plain chips and salsa  when you can try BBQ Jalapeño Poppers or chicken and cheese crispy fried flautas or spicy crawfish empanandas? 

Aquaman and I decided to try the Latin-style egg rolls ($8.49) and the Smoked Bacon bites ($10.99). It was a bit of a mixed bag. My Justice League colleague absolutely loved the egg rolls. The rolls are stuffed with shredded chicken, cabbage, black beans, cilantro, and seasoning. It came with two dipping sauces, a garlic sauce and a sweet chili-lime sauce. “I should have ordered this as an entree,” Aquaman said. “They were awesome.”

The smoked bacon bites were only okay. Most people would call them burnt ends. They weren’t bad, but they were very chewy, and I mean chewy. The secret ingredient apparently is Maria’s OG Chipotle BQ sauce. They also come with BBQ and Ranch dipping sauce. Both of us found ourselves dipping more into the Ranch than the BBQ sauce. “I liked them,” Aquaman said. “But I don’t think I would order them again. They’re kind of hard to eat because they’re so chewy.”

Aquaman and I mulled over three or four possibilities for our entree going back and forth several times. Aquaman initially had his mind set on the spicy Jalapeño burger, but in the end he decided to try Bubba’s Favorite BBQ Tamales ( $11.99). The tamales were on the large side and filed with smoked pork steamed in a corn husk and topped with queso and BBQ sauce. They come served with black beans and cilantro-lime rice. “I didn’t expect the tamales to be this big, not even at an authentic Mexican restaurant,” Aquaman said. 

My aquatic super hero companion liked the tamales, but did not care for the BBQ sauce, which had a bit of a sour taste to it. “I think they went too heavy on the BBQ sauce,” Aquaman said. “It was kind of overpowering and I don’t think the sauce was that good. Maybe with a different BBQ sauce it would be better because the pork was good.” 

I also struggled to narrow down what I wanted to try, but at the last minute decided to order the catfish tacos ($11.75). Here again, thats a very unique combination of Mexican fused with southern cuisine. I was very satisfied with my choice. The catfish had a good taste to it and wasn’t gamey or muddy tasting, and reminded me of the catfish bites at The Hollywood Cafe in Tunica, which are amazing. They come served with Latin slaw, which I opted to get on the side and was glad I did because the slaw was a vinegar based kind which is not my favorite. I added tartar sauce to the catfish bites which gave it a good overall flavor.

Both of our entries came served with black beans and cilantro-lime rice which is fine, but both Aquaman and I would have preferred refried beans and Mexican rice. But, it’s not a deal killer.

In sum, we give Maria’s Cantina 4 POWs. The menu has a lot of Mexican-fusion style dishes to choose from that are unique and tasty, and the overall atmosphere makes it a comfortable place to head to before or after a movie or on a Friday night. 

 

4 POWs

 

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