The retired Macintosh storefront on Charleston’s north King Street is getting a jungle-tropicalia makeover. And with it, the promise of a new eatery with bold, vibrant themes.
Maya, the latest venture from the Indigo Road Hospitality Group, has drummed up much buzz with its anticipated launch. The space will open its doors on Friday, September 24, with curated dishes that celebrate Mexico’s various culinary cultures.
Helmed by executive chef Brett Riley, Maya levels up Charleston’s Mexican restaurant scene with authentic cooking techniques and traditional formulas he learned while working in New York City, specifically at Michelin-starred Claro. “You follow the traditional formulas,” Riley says, “then it’s up to you to put fresh, local ingredients into it.”
Riley is bringing the flavors and foods of Oaxaca, Jalisco, Mexico City, Tulum, and beyond with a focused, approachable menu that represents each region––one where every bite holds a story.
The antojitos pull from fresh seafood and seasonal produce, with items like the diver scallop ceviche. The platos fuertes showcase different regions’ styles of mole, ranging from a mole negro over chicken and a tomatillo mole verde over the rotating fish selection.
The tacos, though, are the stars of the show. Some feel familiar, like the al pastor of spit-roasted pork in adobo with guacamole taquero salsa, pineapple, onion, and cilantro. Others offer a taste of something new, including the duck carnitas with confit duck, escabeche, and a chichàrron.
The menu at Maya subverts any assumption that Mexican food is, by default, fast casual. “We’ve moved so far past in what Mexican cuisine can do and how it should be appreciated,” Riley says. “It deserves respect and recognition.”
One of Maya’s standout features is its in-house masa program. It uses a traditional nixtamalization process and corn sourced from Mexico to create everything from tortillas and chips to tempura-fried squash blossoms.
The flavorful bites and tropical drinks pair well with the jungle-meets-coastline space, complete with natural elements like reclaimed timber and cascading greenery.
“It’s all about a feeling,” Jon Murray, chief restaurant officer, says. His time in the Yucatan Peninsula inspired the space and vibe. He wants guests to be enveloped in a warm, inviting atmosphere the moment they enter the resort-casual dining room or tropical patio space.
“It’s the feeling we’re trying to ingrain in our staff,” he says. “There’s so much warmth, comfort, and love. That’s what we want people to feel when they walk in here.”
- by Erin Byers Murray