Smile Politely

Maize to open second location in Downtown Champaign

It hasn’t even been two years since I initially wrote about how damned good Maize is, a then new Mexican restaurant at the corner of First and Green. In that time, Armando and his crew have pretty much ended the game for Mexican food in this town, pumping out the best tacos, tlacoyos, volcanes, and gorditas around.

But the one complaint has always been this: The place is so small, one can’t really “dine in,” especially in a group. And that’s something that any restauranteur will tell you is key to being successful.

So, now the news comes that Maize will be opening a second location at the corner of Chestnut and University in Downtown Champaign, in the space that Luna recently occupied. Previously, Tracks and The City of New Orleans had stints in the old train station space, as well. It’s been a black hole for restaurants, mainly. The space was always under-utilized, and for whatever reason, couldn’t ever really take off well enough to remain open.

But something tells me that Maize will do just fine in this location. Between the excellent patio that sits below the train, and the two-room, one kitchen dining space, along with the best Mexican food around, I think we’re going to see a very formidable new player in the Downtown Champaign restaurant scene.

The fact that they are keeping their First and Green “shack” open only further demonstrates Armando’s commitment to quality first, and profits second.

I, for one, am very very glad that I will be able to sit down with a margarita and order too many tacos this Summer in Downtown Champaign. Likely outdoors, with lots of friends.

This is good stuff.

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