If you're looking for a venue that will impress a first date, May St. Cafe is your perfect secret weapon. This upscale BYO takes minimalist chic style and makes it so warm and friendly that you can feel seriously classy and still have a great time.
Executive chef/owner Mario Santiago and chef/owner Guadalupe Aguilar join forces to create a dynamite menu, dressing up Mexican and Puerto Rican comfort-food specialties with contemporary Franco-Italian flair. For dinner ($10-$30), cinnamon chipotle chicken fajitas are a flavorful treat, while heartier appetites favor choice Allen Bros. steaks or salmon in rich tequila lemon butter chipotle cream sauce.
A darling of local growers, Santiago revamps the menu seasonally to feature organic and local produce. Approachable and attentive, he'll happily customize a dish to your tastes, and vegetarian options abound. But whatever you order, don't deny yourself the finale: a cup of rich dark coffee and the cafe's famous melt-in-your-mouth flan.
The cafe attracts a crowd (and often takes BYO to new heights, where guests at nearby tables make new friends by swapping one's glass of pinot noir for another's homemade margarita), so reservations are a necessity Thursday-Saturday, and always recommended. Santiago and Aguilar also do catered events; check website for details.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger