Though Maiz (Spanish for corn) lies in the heart of Humboldt Park, this is not another la fonda boriqua. Daring to be different in a neighborhood with a large Puerto Rican population and the restaurants to prove it, Maiz offers up tasty, filling Mexican food at prices that don't break the bank.
In its second incarnation (the original Wicker Park spot burned down a few years ago), Maiz serves up traditional Mexican dishes in the quesadilla and empanada vein, in a colorful space that updates traditional Mexican decor. The tiled bar mixes with the bright paintings and contemporary-style seating to simultaneously provide visitors with a familiar and fresh dining experience.
The food, naturally, follows suit. Shrimp and fish tacos add a new dimension to old favorites, and hearty cheeses perk up common dishes. Meat eaters, you've found your place: Any item on the menu can be made with chicken, steak or pork...or all three, if you're feeling adventurous. Your veggie friends won't be out of place with zucchini, mushroom and spinach fajitas, sopes and quesadillas on the menu. Nothing costs more than $7, good news to anyone watching his or her pennies. One word of caution: The portions weren't the biggest I've ever seen; don't expect to take a doggie bag home. Maiz serves the requisite sangrias and margaritas, as well as a selection of Mexican beer and a small wine list, perfect for washing down those steak huaraches or mushroom tacos.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Venita Griffin