Your Adventure is About to Depart: An Evening at The Mayan

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The Mayan
9400 South State Street, Sandy, Ut, 84070
Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Reviewed Oct. 8, 2008.
I was hanging out with a bunch of friends the other day and realized “Christ! My friends have a lot of kids!” It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people out there reading SLUG that have kids, and not just teenagers. I decided to drop by a kid-friendly place to see if it was worth hitting up the next time the nieces and nephews are over. The Mayan seemed like an obvious first choice––being tucked away in that breeding ground commonly know as Sandy in that Las Vegas casino knock-off strip mall— The Jordan Commons. I had been to this place once before and was not impressed, but that was just shortly after it had opened, long before the lawsuit in July of 2000 by Casa Bonita, the original cliff diving and torch juggling cafeteria-style Mexican restaurant in Lakewood, Colo., alleging violation of intellectual property rights and The Mayan’s subsequent remodeling and revamping.

To make sure we could get a kid’s perspective, I dragged along another SLUG staffer, her seven year old daughter, an immature friend and of course, my poor wife who had to keep us all in line. The entry and lobby looked like some poorly built mock up for a ride at Disneyland. It was not entirely clear why it was decorated like an archeological outpost, but I figured that it didn’t matter because at least there wasn’t a gift shop. After a 10- minute wait, a mumbled voice announced over a crackling loudspeaker, “Worbon, party of five, your adventure is about to depart!” We were lead down a hallway to an open dining room with walls draped in fake tropical plants, a large manmade cliff with a pool at the bottom and speakers playing jungle noises that sounded like one of those meditation CDs you see displayed on a new age store’s endcap. We were seated at a booth with a clear view of the cliff. We started with some drinks. My wife ordered a Bloody Mary, my buddy a beer and the child got a strawberry banana smoothie. I can’t speak for the smoothie, but the Bloody Mary tasted pretty bland, kind of like the bar tender just used tomato juice and vodka. I don’t know why so many restaurants have such a tough time with the Bloody Mary, but it’s not tough to add a little seasoning, maybe some onion powder or garlic or pepper or even just a little hot sauce. It wasn’t a big deal though, because I think we were mostly just happy to have the option to drink,.I was actually a little surprised that The Mayan had a full liquor menu as well as beer and wine, and based on the entertainment, I would suggest taking advantage of it

The dinner menu was divided into three sections of entrees: Latin, American and Kids, which we were given a comfortable amount of time to review before our server returned. After a brief rundown of the specials, the waitress took our order and we settled in with some complimentary chips and salsa and an appetizer of Queso Especial ($5.95) that tasted like Cheese Whiz somebody had farted on. We watched as teenagers dressed like Tarzan climbed the cliff and occasionally jumped in. It didn’t seem all that impressive, but the seven-year-old at my table was entertained. The show was in full swing when our food arrived––with live drumming and some girl stomping around in a headdress. I had ordered two tacos ($9.95) and had my choice of pork barbacoa, rotisserie chicken, or carne asada. I chose the steak and the pork and ended up wishing I had just opted out of eating altogether. The Queso should have been warning enough. My tacos were dry, bland and cold. Looking around the table, it seemed like everybody else was in the same boat as me. The seven-year-old only took a couple of bites of her Bow-tie Pasta and Cheese ($4.95) while her mom complained about the cold meat on her skewers of Shrimp and Beef Medallions ($9.25). My wife only ate half of her Cheese Enchiladas ($7.75) and my buddy managed to be the only one to finish his burger (the special with bbq sauce and onion rings), but immediately began complaining about not feeling well. While the entertainment seemed to keep the kids in the place enthralled, I’m pretty sure that the shit I took the next day probably tasted more like a decent Latin meal than what we had that night. It is obvious that the food is not what keeps this place in business—I assume it is its proximity to the IMAX Theatre that brings people there. There is a lunch menu too, but it’s not likely that I will be trying it anytime soon.