With Maize existing in our community for nearly a decade now, you may think you know the menu from so many visits. However, Maize recently rolled out new brunch options, so I took a few trips to see how these new items held up to their standard menu. Brunch is only at the Downtown Champaign location, so don’t show up at the Green Street location early on a weekend expecting to enjoy some brunch.
As usual, I walked into the brightly lit Station location where the copper tables gleam, and the staff quickly seated me. Early on a weekend, I had nearly the entire space to myself, so I didn’t have any wait as I usually do when visiting on weekends with groups of friends. At brunch, they have two menus to look through that cover brunch, drinks, appetizers, and lunch food. Various items only appear on the double-sided brunch menu or are new additions that appeared at the same time as the brunch menu, so take your time looking through everything.
Image: A restaurant dining room features at least 14 copper colored tables with wood chairs. Black napkin-wrapped utensils sit on all the tables. The floor is a brownish-gray tile, and the walls are bright red-orange, with dark wood wainscotting a quarter of the way up the wall from the floor. There are windows on the left side of the image. Photo by Matthew Macomber.
Image: Shrimp ceviche is garnished with avocado slices and served in a small, square, white bowl. The bowl is in the middle of a rectagular white plate that holds golden tortilla chips. The plate sits on a hammered copper table. Photo by Matthew Macomber.
I started with one of the new appetizers, ceviche de camaron ($8), also known as shrimp ceviche. Using Maize’s homemade tortilla chips, I took several bites of the shrimp, lettuce, lime juice, tomato, avocado, and cilantro mix. I loved the tangy, heavy citrus taste as it was enhanced by the salty chips. The shrimp were plentiful, ensuring that every bite I took had something of substance. A seafood dish that’s also packed with vegetables, this is an ideal appetizer to share with your pescatarian friends.
Image: A breakfast burrito is cut in half and sits on a rectagular white plate. The flour tortilla is white, and from inside the burrito is melty cheese, rice, and eggs. Everything spilling out is an orange color, and orange grease and liquid is pooled in between the burrito halves. The plate sits on a hammered copper table. Photo by Matthew Macomber.
Unlike the light shrimp ceviche appetizer, the breakfast burritos ($8) at Maize are as delicious as they are hearty. Filled with beans, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, chorizo and oh-so-much cheese within a flour tortilla, I quickly filled up as I ate this burrito. Even more so than the lunch burritos, watch out for dripping cheese and other juices when eating. Thankfully, the juiciness of brought the whole experience together as the chorizo flavor permeated every other ingredient of the burrito. I recommend this burrito over any at Maize.
Image: Three corn-husk wrapped tamales sit on a rectangular white plate. The tamales are a light golden brown, and rectangular. The plate sits on a hammered copper table. Photo by Matthew Macomber.
On my second trip to enjoy the brunch at Maize, I tried two more dishes with the help of my sister and cousin, with the first of these being tamales ($3 each). Maize offers tamales filled with guajillo pork, verde pork, or rajas so I ordered one of each. The verde pork tamale is the safe choice for those who don’t want a spicy tamale, while the guajillo pork variety is a nice slow burn of spice. For vegetarians, the rajas may be the only available option, but it is also the most interesting from my perspective. While I initially tasted just the masa (corn dough) and the juiciness of the poblano chile, the heat of the pepper quickly took over yet stopped just shy of overwhelming me. I appreciated the delicate balance in play with the rajas tamale.
Image: Two gorditas and a small avocado salad sit on a rectangular white plate. The gorditas are round and a light golden color. The plate sits on a hammered copper table. Photo by Matthew Macomber.
As my last dish, I tried a gordita chicharron with egg ($8 for two). A breakfast version of the gorditas we are used to from Maize, this gordita came with beans, cheese, avocado salad, beef, and egg between two thick tortillas. Unlike the tamales, the brunch gordita doesn’t have a meaningful amount of space. This is too bad, as the doughy tortillas take up so much volume that it’s difficult to appreciate the ingredients inside without extra seasoning of some kind to help them stick out. While the gorditas are not bad, the similarly priced breakfast burritos are better on all fronts.
As I hoped, the new brunch at Maize holds up just as well as the lunch items they’ve cooked and sold for nearly ten years. Even better, I met with more than a few surprises as I tried out the Maize’s brunch. I did not expect to like the shrimp ceviche to be a better pair with chips than the restaurant's salsa. Only eating this brunch did I realize Maize didn’t offer tamales until now. I’m glad to say I have new favorites to order, thanks to the refreshing ceviche and the packed breakfast burrito. Do yourself a favor and head over to Maize sometime to find your own favorite dish off the brunch menu.
100 N Chestnut St
M-Th 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sa 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa + Su 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.