Sherman's Food Adventures: Maria & Maria Cafe

Maria & Maria Cafe

*Location closed but owners are looking for a new storefront in the future*

As I was driving along 82nd on my way to Costco, something caught my peripheral vision. Smack dab in the middle of auto repair shops was something that made me smile - a new restaurant! I ground to screeching halt and pulled into the first parking spot available (actually there are very few spots around). Maria & Maria Cafe eh? Well, considering where it was located, I fully expected a run-of-the-mill sandwich shop purely existing for the local businesses. As I walked into the place, the minimalistic decor was interrupted by the warm greeting from 2 friendly ladies. Much to my surprise, this place serves Filipino food as well! Finally. A break from the regular stuff nearby. Don't get me wrong, I love Indian food, but to have something different in this area is an achievement. Much like finding something other than Chinese food in Richmond or car turn signals that work too...

Looking through the menu, there are the usual breakfast choices as well as sandwiches and wraps. I wasn't interested in those since there was the Filipino menu on the wall. Incidentally, that wall is covered with comments from customers. It's very cool that they really want to connect with their patrons. I ended up going for the Lechon Kawali or fried pork belly with garlic rice and fried egg. The crisp pieces of pork belly were fatty, of course, and heavily salted. By itself, the salt content stung, but eaten with the rice, it was just right. And about that rice, it was beautifully flavoured by the fried garlic on top. Mixed with the 2 runny over-easy eggs, it was a tasty concoction. Simple, yet infinitely more interesting than most offerings I've had lately.

The following week, Hot Mama tagged along for return visit. Upon my arrival, the 2 ladies remembered my name and welcomed us warmly. Once again, I referred to the menu on the wall and decided on the Bangus with garlic rice and fried eggs. Bangus is another name for milkfish, but in this case, my order looked more like a pomfrit. No matter, it was fried fish of some sort. Since the fish was fried to practically a crisp, there was no need to fear bones or even the head. The whole thing could be eaten just like that. Once again, mixed in with the runny eggs and tasty rice, it was an interesting meal. Hot Mama, being the conservative eater, had the Chicken Wrap and it was more or less your typical wrap.

On a third visit, I merely had what they had prepared that day, which happened to be Pancit and Chicken. The pancit was very flavourful, if not a touch dry. I liked the mixture of meats they put into it though. As for the chicken, it resembled a pot pie as they described. It was very creamy and the components were cooked perfectly. Loved the addition of Chinese sausage, it gave the dish a unique taste. Some forgettable veggies and plain Siopao completed the plate. Hey, it ain't blow-your-socks off food, at the very least it is different and served by 2 ladies that can't help but make one smile.

The Good:
- Something different in a sea of the same
- The 2 ladies there are super friendly and personable
- Inexpensive

The Bad:
- Limited menu of sorts
- Minimalistic decor and limited seating

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