Maria’s serves up the spe­cials in two NWA lo­ca­tions

Bur­ri­tos, en­chi­lada’s, beer and more; Maria’s Mex­i­can Restau­rant has it all

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BROWN BAG STORY - BY SEAN LAUGH­LIN/NWA ME­DIA

In a world (and area) full of dif­fer­ent types of Mex­i­can restau­rants, Hugo Ortega knows he has been ex­tremely lucky when it comes to the suc­cess that his restau­rant, Maria’s Mex­i­can Restau­rant, has had over al­most two decades.

The idea of cre­at­ing a restau­rant in North­west Arkansas first came to Ortega back in 1999, when his wife and him cre­ated Maria’s at 2503 S. Wal­ton Blvd. in Ben­tonville.

“When we first started there were only about 14-15 ta­bles so what we have grown into now is pretty good,” Ortega said.

Pretty good is right, in 18 years be­ing opened, Maria’s in Ben­tonville has grown from those 15 ta­bles to seat­ing 160 people.

Not only has the Ben­tonville lo­ca­tion been a big hit, Maria’s has ex­panded through­out the west side of the state. In 2002, Maria’s ex­panded their chain by open­ing a lo­ca­tion in each Roger’s and Ft. Smith, which Ortega said wasn’t a huge tran­si­tion go­ing from one to three restau­rants.

“It was more work but, the cus­tomers con­tin­ued to come,” Ortega said.

Maria’s is truly a fam­ily restau­rant start­ing from the name on the build­ing to the smil­ing faces in­side.

“I de­cided to put the name of the restau­rant as Maria’s be­cause my mom, she is named Maria and my wife is named Maria as well, it is kind of just the fam­ily name,” Ortega said.

Maria (Hugo’s wife) can be found in the Ben­tonville lo­ca­tion where she co-owns the restau­rant with her hus­band. As well as Maria, (Hugo’s daugh­ter) can also be found along­side her older sis­ter Stephanie, and younger brother Hugo work­ing at Maria’s as servers and hosts. Maria’s is a true fam­ily af­fair.

Ortega sees a huge part of why his restau­rants have had such great suc­cess is due to their food from scratch ev­ery­day that has the cus­tomers com­ing back for more. A lot of the items on the menu have been served since it opened back in ‘99.

One of his per­sonal fa­vorites, and a very pop­u­lar menu item, is his spe­cialty bur­rito, named the Bur­rito Mex­i­cano. It is a large bur­rito over­stuffed with a choice of chicken or steak, plus onion, cilantro, hot sauce, mush­rooms, Mon­ter­rey and ched­dar for $5.99. Prices such as this are truly a huge part in why cus­tomers love com­ing back be­cause of the com­bi­na­tion of de­li­cious food and prices that won’t break the bank.

Bur­ri­tos are what a lot of cus­tomers come in for, not only the Bur­rito Mex­i­cano but also Bur­rito Asada which is filled with Fa­jita steak served with cilantro, onion and hot sauce in­side, again for just $5.99.

Not all of Maria’s top dishes are bur­ri­tos though, they have great en­chi­ladas such as the En­chi­lada Ban­dera. This is three mouth-wa­ter­ing en­chi­ladas. One cheese en­chi­lada cov­ered with ranchera sauce, one chicken en­chi­lada cov­ered in sour cream sauce, and one beef en­chi­lada cov­ered with salsa verde. All of that is also served with rice, beans, let­tuce and pico de gallo for only $8.99.

Fa­ji­tas are an­other house spe­cialty and come in seven va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing the Chicken or Beef Fa­ji­tas are filled with either

their chicken, steak or a com­bi­na­tion of the two cooked with bell pep­pers, onions and fresh toma­toes. Sin­gle serv­ing is $12.99 or two is $23.69.

The menu also in­cludes other tra­di­tional en­trees, such as chimichangas, que­sadil­las, na­chos, tacos and a va­ri­ety of seafood dishes.

Spe­cials are a huge part of Maria’s Mex­i­can Restau­rant on a daily ba­sis; start­ing with the lunch menu. Mon­day’s are Mini Chicken Chimichanga’s and Beef En­chi­lada with rice for $6.99. Tues­day’s, Chicken Que­sadilla served with white cheese dip for $6.99. Wed­nes­day’s you can get Beef Fa­jita na­chos with pico de gallo and cheese sauce on top for $7.50. Thurs­day’s you can get Chicken Breast served with rice, toma­toes, onions, bell pep­pers let­tuce and white cheese on top for $6.99. Then round­ing out the lunch menu is Supreme Chicken Fa­jita Que­sadilla which comes with yel­low cheese and white cheese sauce on top, as well as all of the veg­gies on the side for $7.50 on Fri­day’s.

Oh, and don’t for­get that all meals start off with a com­pli­men­tary, made in the back, bas­ket of fresh chips and also a spe­cial Maria’s home­made salsa. Which comes in either Hot Ta­matillo or mild.

Maria’s also has a full bar which has eight beers on draft. Miller Lite, Modelo, Shiner Rock, Blue Moon, Pachico Light, Dos Equis, Bud Light and Bud­weiser. All can be or­dered at any time through­out the day for only $2, both do­mes­tic and im­ported dur­ing Maria’s Happy Hour from 2-7 p.m.

Other drinks that are of­fered at Maria’s in­clude reg­u­lar and fla­vored Mar­gar­i­tas. Rocks Mar­garita’s in­clude Rasp­berry, Strawberry, Peach and Mango as well as the tra­di­tional Mar­garita, which all can be frozen as well. There is a spe­cial drink called the ‘Per­fect Mar­garita’ which is a mix of 1800 Re­s­posade Tequila, Grand Marnier and or­ange juice. Maria’s is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m ex­cept for Satur­day and Sun­day when Maria’s closes at 9:30 p.m.

For any of the in­cred­i­ble en­trees that are made fresh ev­ery­day or their wide va­ri­ety of drinks, visit either of the three lo­ca­tions in West Arkansas. Ben­tonville (2503 S Wal­ton Blvd), Rogers (2813 W Wal­nut St.), or if you are more south, head over to the Fort Smith lo­ca­tion at (8640 Rogers Ave). Or more in­for­ma­tion or to check out their menu, head over to mari­as­mex­i­can­restau­rant.biz.

SPE­CIAL THANKS TO NORTH­WEST ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

Maria’s Mex­i­can Restau­rant, serves chips and salsa made from scratch with each meal that is or­dered.

SEAN LAUGH­LIN/NORTH­WEST ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

Happy Hour is from 2-7 p.m. ev­ery­day where there are Mar­garita’s and $2 do­mes­tic or im­ported beer along with other fa­vorites.

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