Any good foodie who’s ever dined at Maracas Mexican Cantina & Grill (located in the Monterey Marketplace nearby Costco and Home Depot in Rancho Mirage) knows that it’s traditional not in the way of most American-styled Mexican restaurants, but traditional in the it’s-as-real-Mexican-cuisine-as-you’ll-find-in-Mexico-City way. I dare say that, with its more than 120 tequilas behind the bar—almost all of which are made of 100% blue agave—plus its distinct lunch and dinner menus that boast items you’d never see available at other local eateries, Maracas is the only fine dining Mexican restaurant in Rancho Mirage—and one that’s family friendly to boot.
Nowhere else can you find Huarache Maracas (a thick sandal-shaped corn tortilla topped with black beans, jalapeno coleslaw, and diner’s choice of grilled steak, grilled chicken, or shredded pork topped with queso fresco, diced tomato and crème fresco), Sarten de Maracas (the resto’s spin on the traditional Molcajete; a molten, stewed mix of tomato and chiles, grilled green onions, cactus petals, and wedges of Oaxacan cheese with corn or flour tortillas and a choice of grilled veggie, chicken, steak, or shrimp), and Drunken Salmon (fresh filet of salmon marinated in tequila and lime juice, then grilled and topped with Maracas’ house-made beurre blanc and served with two sides (Mexi rice, refried or black beans, chipotle mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, mixed vegetables, fries, or a side salad).
If you’re lucky enough to be a regular—or be on first-name basis with one, as we are, dear reader—then you know all about Maracas’ “secret menu”: the list of a dozen items that may only be ordered by requesting them of your server. These include not only a host of breakfast entrees served from opening to dinnertime (chilaquiles, huevos con machaca, the breakfast burrito) but specialty items like the side of jalapeños that are fire roasted, then deep fried and served with grilled onions. To die! And a bargain at just $2 per order. You can even call ahead, speak to co-owners Todd Flood or Jack Srebnik (or to any manager on duty), and pre-order Langosta Puerto Nuevo (deep fried fresh, live Maine lobster). Now, if that doesn’t put you in the mood to plan a fiesta, I don’t know what will. And when you do, please be sure to invite me!