By Raymond Bill

With so many incredible Mexican restaurants here in our valley, it can be increasingly difficult for one to find success. There is simply, too much competition. But with the right formula and a talented staff, a new restaurant can outshine its competitors and become a valley staple. Such is the case with Maraca’s Mexican Cantina & Grill. Their second location in Rancho Mirage has been getting much attention and I had to see for myself what sets this Mexican restaurant apart from the others.

It was a typical busy night with much foot traffic from the nearby Rancho 16 Movie Theatre. I was treating my daughter to a celebratory dinner for her recent academic achievements and Maraca’s was the perfect reward. We were seated at the only remaining table in a filled restaurant. I immediately took notice of their beautiful bar with rich, dark wood and flat screen televisions. Inspired by America’s favorite bar on Cheers, this bar is the focal point of the restaurant. Offering well over 100 brands of tequila, I was in margarita heaven.

We began with an appetizer of Nachos with grilled chicken and steak, as we could not decide on just one meat topping. The Original Macho Gabacho Nachos were placed between us on a large plate. It was a feast and there was no way we could finish them but we gave it a valiant effort. The house made chips topped with ranchero sauce, refried beans and melted cheese were outstanding. The salsa was superb with a smoky spicy flavor that became quite addicting with each bite.

For our entrées, my daughter enjoyed her steak filled quesadilla and gave it two thumbs up. Upon our server’s recommendation, I ordered the Carne Asada Plate. Recently added to the dinner menu, our server mentioned how increasingly popular this dish has become. Arriving on a long boat-like plate, the well-seasoned grilled steak was topped with onions and accompanied by a cheese enchilada, rice and black beans (per my request). Finished with the standard guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, and served with warm tortillas, this plate was perfect in presentation and flavor!

Dessert never had a chance. The selections looked incredible and I’m sure they are. There was simply no room for it on this visit so we’ve made a promise to return and enjoy dessert for our first course to be sure we have room for it.

The staff is very friendly, smiling from the time we arrived to the moment we left. We were fortunate on this visit to enjoy some live music by a very talented duo in the front of the restaurant. Maraca’s Cantina & Grill has what it takes to last in this desert. They have found the formula for success and can’t wait to share it with the valley. The Rancho Mirage location offers happy hour at the bar all day and trust me, this bar is spectacular. Visit their website and view their mouth-watering menu at www.maracas-restaurant.com.

The original Palm Springs location is at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive and the new Rancho Mirage location is next to The Slice at 72775 Dinah Shore. Stop in for lunch or dinner 7 days a week. I can’t say enough how happy I am to have found this place.

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