Riviera Maya Mexican Restaurant

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This family-style Mexican restaurant brings classic and Americanized dishes from south of the border to the south end of Mercer Island. The warm, friendly spot bustles, brightened by the large murals on the walls and a gas fireplace in the entranceway. Quick service and hearty portions make it a popular choice for mid-day meals, while families and groups enjoy the cozy feel at dinner.

Chips, salsa, and beans for dipping land at each table almost immediately after people get seated, along with the book-like menu that offers seemingly endless options for brunch, lunch, and dinner – including a few hidden gems. Offerings include Tex-Mex favorites like chimichangas, fajitas, and combination lunch meals. But the restaurant also serves some traditional Mexican dishes that are much rarer in these parts, like the Yucatan specialty of cochinita pibil, which involves slow-cooked pork marinated in a tart orange juice, and chile en nogada – a pepper stuffed with spiced meat, topped with a creamy nut-based sauce and sprinkled with pomegranates – which is said to represent the Mexican flag. There are also plenty of creative and intriguing vegetarian and vegan options, including asparagus fajitas, cauliflower tacos, fried potato tacos, and butternut squash enchiladas.

The five-year-old restaurant struggled to adjust to the pandemic at first, when their business dropped by 70%. Owner Erika Cedeno Luna eventually created a GoFundMe to help keep the restaurant afloat. But today, the restaurant – now with additional seating on the patio in front – once again rings with multi-lingual conversations as the television plays soccer matches and diners dig into piles of rice and beans.

Visit Riviera Maya in the South Mercer Village shopping center, near Mifit and Yuzen at 8451 SE 68th St, Suite 101. Find more information on the website at www.rivieramayawa.com.