Maria Maria1470 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek,
Maria Maria, the restaurant Jeff Dudum opened in the former Cantina space with the backing of Carlos Santana, has turned into an instant scene. Thursdays through Sundays, the stylin’ night crowd sips strong margaritas while listening to superb guitarist Keith Sanchez. The barely post-teenage, black tank–topped waitstaff race nonstop around the dark wood tables and wicker-backed chairs. We enjoyed the zippy guacamole, tender short ribs in a smooth blackberry mole, and fish tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo. But the flavor of the fish in the trio of ceviches was lost to overpowering coconut and chili sauces, the steak fajitas suffered from a generic marinade, and the mole tortilla casserole was so bland, any native would snub it. Dessert—warm, moist mango bread pudding—was a nice finish. Lunch and dinner daily.