A rooftop dinner seems absolutely called for at the moment to welcome in the easing of lockdown, post-Covid life and to support the hospitality industry. Queue Maya: a Mexican restaurant on the 7th-floor rooftop space of the Hoxton Hotel’s Shoreditch outpost. Recently opened in collaboration with Soho House, the restaurant is a travelling story: it started life back in January 2019 as a pop-up in Soho House West Hollywood, experimented with openings across the world and then settled down as a permanent LA restaurant. And like its LA sibling, The Hoxton’s Maya is chic and trendy.
On a sunny evening, the outdoor terrace feels like a hidden place to be – the entrance is tucked away behind Great Eastern Street through a discrete green door with a great big handle. Requiring navigation to the 7th-floor rooftop, once you’ve made it up the view and décor at the top is worth it: bohemian greenery outside breaks up the industrial-styled setting on the outdoor terrace. The inside is equally attractive, encased by a glass structure with a concrete and terrazzo bar and a mix of low-level lounge seating, booths and dining tables.
Foodwise, the menu was designed by chef Giacomo Pettinari, picking up experience from LA Mexican restaurants and from his mainly Oaxacan kitchen staff. Focusing on coastal “Baja Mexican” food, made with local produce, the menu features all the elements you’d expect from a Mexican restaurant: bites, tacos, tostadas, sides and plenty of tequilas / mezcals. The “plant-based” options on offer here are extensive making Maya a big draw (for me at least) compared to most other taquerias in London.
Guacamole – though not table-made on our experience – is a must start to any meal here (alongside a tequila-based cocktail). On that, I went for Naked & Famous (£12) – a neat, deep red drink of mezcal verde momento, French chartreuse, aperol and lime. Like a smokey version of an aperol spritz, it’s a Mexican take on the Italian classic. Punchy, to the point and not sweet, it sets the taste buds going from the go. My companion went for Verde Aztec (£12), made with centenario plata tequila, Cointreau, apple, jalapeno syrup and lime. Infused with this chilli-sweet syrup, the end result was refreshing, green, summery and best of all, the rim of the glass had been seasoned with tajin. A Mexican chilli-salt mix, also available in individual bottles on each table, a sprinkle of this condiment may just be my new go-to flavour burst. Smokey, spicy, salty, it sets the fireworks going. Both drinks solid choices.
The Guacamole (£9), meanwhile, is served with large shards of crispy white and blue tortilla chips and crudités – an attractive bowl of radishes, gem lettuce and yellow peppers. The guac itself – studded with tomatoes and grilled corn – is creamy, chunky and super fresh. Though it needed a touch more seasoning, a sprinkle of the tajin did the trick.
We also went for the Mushroom Quesadillas (£11) filled with cheddar, scallions and jalapeno. With the perfect amount of filling – not scant but neither overflowing – these were toasted to perfection: a good bite but still oozy. Served with a (vegan) chipotle mayo, this hit the smokey flavour note spot on.
From the tacos, the Calabacitas (£9) had my name on them. Filled with squash blossom and crema, the pico de gallo – the accompanying salsa – was zingy fresh. An ideal accompaniment to a very picture-perfect courgette flower.
From the sides, the Grilled Camotes (£6) are unmissable. Chunky wedges of sweet potato, they’re satisfying, sweet and most importantly, seasoned with the magic tajin.
For desert, absolutely not to miss is the Chocolate Cake (£8) served with passion fruit sorbet – always the best fruit (if any) to pair with chocolate. Two layers of cake – a crumbly base and a firm mousse above – it’s topped with a good sprinkling (and seasoning) of cacao nibs and sea salt. Rich, not too sweet and an irresible combination of textures, it’s an ideal finale to any meal here, with the passion fruit striking that sweet-sour note so emblematic of Mexican food.
Rooftop Maya feels under-the-radar, relaxed and like a total escape from London despite its Shoreditch Hoxton Hotel setting. With a diverse menu, plenty of vegan options and flavour explosions all around, it may just be one of the best Mexican spots in London.
Maya, 1 Willow St, London EC2A 4BH