Maya Norte (Ladysmith) Review

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Maya hee! Maya ho!

Ok, I know we’re Nanaimo Food Blog, but let’s be real. We can drive to Ladysmith for a good meal every once in a while.

Cute, right?

With that out of the way, let’s talk about our visit to Maya Norte, a cute Mexi-Spanish spot serving tapas and tequilas. You can’t miss this place with its bright red paint, just off the highway on Roberts St.

We were greeted at the door by friendly staff and despite not having a reservation, we were promptly seated and offered drinks. Our server was quite attentive and even went to the effort to explain how tapas-style works and how they recommend ordering. Basically, tapas are small plates designed to be shared. Ideally a couple of people would order five or six plates and share it all. We love to eat this way (and we see this with plenty of Asian cuisines too) so that worked just fine for us.

While we were perusing the menu, and the lengthy specials board, we received our cocktails, which were spicy (goes with the territory) and delicious.

We’ve always believed you should start with a restaurant’s most basic item to see if they really know what they are doing. Accordingly, we started with the chips and guacamole. The chips appeared house-made and were perfectly salted and the guacamole was fresh and chunky. While we were scarfing those down, our order of corn/chorizo/cheddar fritters arrived. Not to spoil anything, but these might have been our favourite item of the night. There was a ton of flavour packed into the little morsels and they were gooey with melted cheese, but never seemed greasy, despite being fried. They also came with this immensely delicious jalepeño aioli, which we could pretty much just tube feed ourselves with for the rest of time and be quite ok with it.

In fact, we were so into these that we forgot to take a picture, and only remembered once we were ready for the next plate to arrive. Whoops.

If you squint, you can see the scallops.

Our next item to arrive was one of the daily specials – the scallop ceviche. if you’ve never had ceviche (seh-vee-chay) before, it is uncooked fish or shellfish that has been cured in citrus juice (usually lime). This particular ceviche was a little different than we expected. It was served almost like a salsa fresca, with tomato, onion, and cilantro, and a side of tortilla chips to scoop it all up. One of us was a bigger fan than the other, due to very differing opinions on cilantro, but we both agreed it was good, if a little stingy on the scallops, given the $13 price tag.

This is the stuff right here.

After our good-but-not-exceptional ceviche, another winner arrived – the empanadas. These little pastries were so flaky and light, and they were served with more of that jalapeño aioli (inject into our veins, plz).


Lastly, our order of tequila-lime shrimp arrived. We were offered a side of bread with these which we took. We both agreed the shrimp were well cooked and good, but for something as exotic sounding as tequila-lime the flavour didn’t quite knock our socks off. The bread was not a supremely helpful addition, either. It was served with some slightly-chile’d oil and was really only good for soaking up leftover shrimp sauce. We were’t sure what else to do with it. We’re meh on this one.

Finally, we ended our dinner with a dessert of bananas flambé with ice cream and Kahlua sauce. Obviously, you can’t mess that up and it was naturally quite delicious.

Our dinner with the five tapas, two cocktails, and dessert was enough to mostly fill us up. The price, including a reasonable tip, was $102. We found this to be ok value.


We recommend Maya Norte. The facility and service is great, and the food is creative and for the most part quite tasty. There is a bit of a value issue as we think $102 as pushing it for what we actually ate, but if you’re ok with a somewhat premium price tag and a twenty minute drive, you can do far worse than this. Check them out and let them know we sent you!

P.S. No mexi-poutine. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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