Nothing ignites the uncontrollable need for a margarita quite like 3 feet of snow and the promise of more on the way. So, during a recent break between blizzards (as luck would have it, on Valentine’s Day) and after digging out of the Western Prom post-parking ban, I ventured over to Guerrero Maya, a little slice of Mexico on the way to the Maine Mall in South Portland.
This authentic Mexican restaurant resides in the building that previously housed Wild Willy’s Burgers, which closed in 2014. A quick Google search revealed that guerrero maya is Spanish for “maya warrior” but, fun fact, it is also the name of a string of Mexican luchadores enmascarados (masked professional wrestlers a la the classic Jack Black film “Nacho Libre”). There wasn’t much in the way of luchador decor, but I think there’s hope for the future. The interior was bright, inviting and festive — a much needed splash of color in the bleak midwinter hellscape that is Maine right now.
Having been trapped inside for 45 of the previous 48 hours, literally any friendly human contact would have impressed me, but the staff at Guerrero Maya went above and beyond my attention-starved expectations. My drinking companion and I were welcomed in and seated by the bar instantly, with someone coming over to grab our drink order and give us water within mere moments.
As with any self respecting Mexican restaurant, the secret password at Guerrero Maya’s bar is, say it with me now, tequila; 90 percent of their beverages contain a healthy dose of this distilled beverage derived from the blue agave plant.
I know I talked a big game about needing a margarita, but the 12-year-old girl in me took the wheel and ordered herself a pîna colada with Bacardi in a characteristic exhibition of a lack of self-control. My more traditionally-minded companion ordered the house margarita, which was available in small, medium and fish bowl (big enough for four people). The drink also comes in multiple flavor options available for a dollar more. Six taps make up the beer selection, along with a few wine options and sangria for those craving fruitiness.
This place does not lack for food options. The menu is extensive and the servings are ginormous, which helps when the margaritas come in fish bowls. Happy hour, from 2 to 6 p.m. on weeknights, includes specials on taquitos and nachos, $5 house liquor drinks, $3 Mexican beers and $2 drafts of Bud.
So, if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, drinks the size of your head and an amazing happy hour (who isn’t?), the search stops at Guerrero Maya. While watching yet another foot of snow fall, it helps to know that a friendly and cozy Mexican oasis is only a short drive away.
WHERE: 449 Westbrook St., South Portland
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
AMENITIES: Bright festive decor and atmosphere, separate dining and bar area, TVs near bar, friendly and attentive staff, tableside guacamole, margaritas in multiple sizes, incredibly cheap and lengthy happy hour for food and drinks.
BOTTOM LINE: An authentic Mexican restaurant in Maine — what more could you need? With healthy servings of everything they offer and a lengthy happy hour to sweeten the deal, Guerrero Maya is a great option for those looking to escape the dreariness of winter.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes