1191 1st Ave., btwn. 64th & 65th Sts.,
Phone: (212) 585-1818
Few chefs manage to maintain tradition while being fiercely innovative as well as Richard Sandoval. He’s got an empire of Mexican restaurants to prove it, including Pampano and Zengo right here in Manhattan. But Maya was his first foray into the restaurant scene back in 1997, helping launch Mexican cuisine into the world of fine dining. Sandoval’s menu features classics, like tableside guacamole, freshly made tortillas, and chicken tamales, but our favorite dish at Maya is the Tuna Ceviche. Served in a parfait cup with a side of chips, the tuna is marinated in a chili morita citrus sauce and mingled with watermelon, red onion, jicama, and tomato — a light and refreshing seafood salsa of sorts. Washed down with a tequila cocktail (a must at Maya, whose collection features more than 200 tequila-based spirits), there aren’t many better ways to start a meal.