Lost in a sea of shoe stores and kitsch, Pio Maya, the tiny taqueria on 8th Street (between 5th & 6th) is easy to miss. Decorations are scant and Mexican artwork hangs unevenly on the pale yellow walls, but no fear: the food is cheap, fresh, and filling--a welcome culinary trifecta for a city starved for great Mexican fare.
Chicken bastes on a rotisserie behind the cashier and for $5.50, 1/4 of the roast arrives with rice & beans (or yucca), and either tostones or sweet plantains, as well as working its way into quesadillas, grilled sopes, and atop the house chicken salad. The slow-roasted chicken is succulent--the owner is related to the rotisserie kings at Brooklyn's Los Pollitos-- and can also be ordered a la carte in 1/4, 1/2, and whole chicken portions.
With most fare ranging between $2 - $9, Pio Maya is perfect for a snack, a meal, or a feast, depending on how many small items--tacos, tamalas, or flautas you opt for, the variations seemingly endless. Double-tortilla soft tacos stuffed with pico de gallo, lettuce, tomatillo sauce, and a choice of grilled beef, chicken, or chorizo and pork ring up at $2.25 and are made "super" for a dollar more, which buys you guacamole, cheese, and sour cream. Burritos are large--a bit hard to eat without knife and fork--and stuffed with taco fillings plus rice and beans.
Super Nachos, a devilishly caloric cheese-laden heap of tortilla chips, were topped with homemade guacamole, sour cream, roasted jalapenos, and a choice of meat or vegetable. The chips remained surprisingly crisp under the weight of the toppings, but the table's nacho expert nodded in approval, barely able to eat half of the plate which is meant for a very hearty appetite. Several larger platters are also available: roasted pork, mole poblano (chicken in mole sauce), and grilled steak, all which arrive with generous sides of rice and beans. Stellar fried yuca, maduros, extra pico de gallo, and the housemade guacamole are all available on the side and enable ample mixing and matching for any appetite or any craving.
Pio Maya makes Mexican at prices fit to impress, while satisfying even the most scrutinizing tastebuds.
Pio Maya is located at 40-42 W. 8th Street and open M - Sat, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. and Sundays until 10 p.m. (212) 254 - 2277.