I paid a visit to Mayan Sol hoping they might serve some Yucatan specialties. It turns out that Mayan Sol is really not a Yucatan restaurant at all but is still a somewhat interesting place (mainly for reasons other than food).
It's not your typical storefront Mexican restaurant on Lawrence. Nicely designed awnings advertise it as a "latin grill" (in hip lower case). Inside it's rather upscale with nice tile floors, exposed brick walls, ceiling fans, and high tech lighting. There's a good sound system, video monitors, and a little stage in the corner of the moderately sized dining room. Up the stairs, toward the back is a small bar but they have no liquor license yet. A coat check room and DJ booth make it seem they intend to make a nightclub out of it. Clearly a good deal of thought and money have gone into this place.
I was there on a Saturday afternoon when it was about one-third full with well-dressed Mexican couples and families. The several people working there were very welcoming and helpful. The menu seems pretty much generic Mexican with just a few Guatemalan and other touches. I specifically asked if any specials or items not listed were available (none were). Quesadillas, flautas, nachos to start. Some tacos, burritos, and tortas. Four shrimp dishes and about ten dinner plates. From what I could see the most popular was their version of churrasco, a T-bone steak with grilled spring onions, a steamed ear of corn, guacamole, plantains, garlic bread, and a baked potato with a giant pat of butter. I must say that plate looked awfully good and seemed fairly priced at $14.95. There's a so-called parrillada ($35 for 2) that sounds even better. Breakfasts (every day until 1pm) sound relatively standard except one: huevos con longaniza (Guatemalan sausage).
I tried a few small things. Chuchitos (Guatemalan "tamale style empanada") was a large lump of masa, encasing two tiny nuggets of chicken, served on its corn husk wrapper. It was fine but nothing to write home about. Likewise, a taco al pastor was okay. The fairly chewy meat and soft onions were pretty good but there are far superior versions around. A torta milanesa was better. The soft, buttered and grilled bolillo was nice but the rest of the fixin's were ordinary. Except the milanesa which was expertly done. Pretty good quality meat cooked with great care. Lots of nice crispy edges yet not overdone. Clearly someone in the kitchen was paying attention.
I haven't yet been by at night. I would be curious to see what sort of crowd it draws. I think they currently have a solo guitarist during dinner. I just might get a few friends together, bring a few bottles, order a T-bone, and listen to some music.
Mayan Sol was something of a disappointment to me. On a more positive note, while wandering around on Lawrence, I found two new sources for tamales oaxaquenas (one mentioned here before).
Mayan Sol - latin grill
3830 W Lawrence Av