Maiz serves bold artisanal Latin American fare like arepas and churros. There are also epic churro sundae creations and decked-out Latin cocktails.
Inside, the decor veers a little over the edge with a ton of neon, twinkly lights, cacti and sombreros, but the space is clean, organized and more importantly bursting with colour and passion.
Options for four organic house salsas include a mild green “Guasacaca” that’s apparently mandatory with arepas in Venezuela, a black bean japaneo “La Negra,” spicy “Arbol” sauce and a habanero BBQ. All are sold here as well.
All arepas are $12 but the $13 Pabellon shoves an entire classic Venezuelan meal (Pabellon Criollo, also served here) of shredded beef, black beans, sweet and firm fried plantain and cotija cheese into one messy arepa.
The carnitas arepa is more simple, just juicy pulled pork and sharp, rich cotija cheese. All the arepas are fairly oily grease bombs, though, so watch out for squirts and drips.
Choriqueso ($12) is a dish of crumbly, zesty house chorizo and beans layered with ultra-stretchy, molten Oaxca queso fundido, served with corn chips.
Camaronilla al Tequila ($19) is a main dish of big, juicy tequila-flambeed shrimp dressed with their spicy house habanero salsa and served with colourful salad-like coleslaw, rice and tortillas. You’re intended to eat them all together, sort of like a taco.
No Creo en Nada ($12) translates to I Don’t Believe in Anything, but it’s a misleading name for this very imaginative churro sundae.
Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, house churros and triangles of fudgy house brownies are piled with vanilla ice cream, Nutella and a big puff of cotton candy.
A jalapeno mojito ($12) is made with Havana Club, muddled mint and simple syrup. Mojitos typically come garnished with a sweet cinnamon sugar rim that offsets the flavours of rum and lime.
A Chamoy Michelada starts out with lime juice squeezed fresh daily, Worcestershire, fruity Chamoy, and Tajin, then dunks an upside-down beer bottle into the glass rimmed with chili salt and garnished with, of all things, sour gummy worms.
The name Maiz speaks to Chef Fernando Sequeda’s desire to bring real, organic ingredients from his experience working in kitchens all over Latin America to Toronto.