For those who don’t live near Heliopolis, a hotel next to the airport seems an unreasonable distance for dinner or drinks but for lovers of Mexican food this may change. The Fairmont’s Maria’s – a Mexican restaurant in the lobby to the right (so technically in the building of the old Sheraton) – takes authenticity pretty seriously.
For the faint of palette (like myself) Chef Victor Garrido cooks up a fantastic set of chicken cuts in Mayan spices and Mexican oregano with a side of cucumber and cabbage slaw – finding a nice meeting point between authentic Mexican and mildness. A connoisseur of authentic Mexican cuisine should order an appetizer like the shrimp tamal in green tomatillo salsa.
“Most of these dishes are from the north of Mexico,” explains Garrido. “I have kept the recipes authentic, using Mexican ingredients and spices.”
A personal favorite is a heaped bowl of guacamole with onions, tomatoes and lime (LE55) and hot tortilla chips. Team this up with one of Maria’s fantastic margaritas in strawberry or mango for a perfect high table or bar side evening.
Prices run average for hotel fare – dishes start at LE90 and desserts such as the caramel flan we tasted (it appears to be a close relative of our local ‘creme caramel’) are around LE30. The flan is very rich and no one at our table was able to resist a taste.
As for ambiance, a hotel can only go so far. Little cacti adorn the tables and paintings and prints of Mexican actresses line the walls, but the restaurant's open design reminds you you’re in a hotel lobby, removing you from your Mexican fantasy fiesta.
Maria’s, Fairmont Heliopolis, Salah Salem Street (Orouba) near the airport, Heliopolis