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[Photographs: Nancy Huang]

Richard Sandoval's flagship, Maya, a longtime staple for upscale Mexican on the Upper East Side, recently rung in its 15th anniversary with an interior redesign and bar/lounge expansion called Tequileria Maya. Fueled by a wide selection of tequilas and fresh fruit margaritas, Tequileria Maya is a loud and lively space, a casual atmosphere perfect for happy hour snacking.

The menu of Botanas (snacks), priced at $4 each, includes a delightful Squash Blossom Quesadilla ($4), a fried pocket of corn masa stuffed with squash blossoms, poblano chiles, roasted corn and cheese. The final product resembles an empanada, but has a chewy (not flaky) consistency from the masa.

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The same corn masa is used to make oblong huaraches and griddle-fried sopes, which are topped with cheeses, meats, and/or vegetables. Maya offers two versions, a Huarache de Carne with filet mignon and manchego (pictured above) and a Mushroom Huarache with wild mushrooms and goat cheese.

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The kitchen offers a variety of tacos, such as the Al Pastor (a bit bland) and Chicken Tinga (delicious). The Taco del Dia on this visit was a flavorful braised short rib.

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No drinking session at Tequileria Maya should be without a side of guacamole and chips—the kitchen offers a traditional version and three varieties. The Spicy Crab Guacamole ($18) was one of our favorites, topped with a generous helping of fresh crab dressed in smoky chile de arbol.

Happy Hour runs from 5-7 PM and 10PM-midnight daily, though specials extend mostly to drinks rather than food. For regulars, Tequileria Maya also offers free bottle storage for anyone purchasing a full bottle of tequila.

Tequileria Maya

1191 First Ave., New York, NY 10065 (map)
212-585-1818
RichardSandoval.com/MayaNY

About the author: Nancy Huang, who comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, writes The Wanderist, a food and travel blog of adventures here and abroad. She loves noodles, subway maps, and word games.

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