Best Mexican Food: Maize Mexican Grill

By Alexis Ramirez, Staff Writer

Maize Mexican Grill remains undefeated in the category of “Best Mexican Food.” The restaurant is owned and operated by Armando Sandoval and his wife. Sandoval was born in Mexico City and grew up on a small farm in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. He arrived in Champaign to study sociology at the University in hopes of becoming a teacher.

When Sandoval experienced health problems in 2010, he returned to Champaign with the goal of continuing his studies or starting a business.

Tortillas at Maize are handmade, as they are in rural Mexico. The items on the Maize menu — tacos, gorditas and tlacoyos — are staples of street food in the Mexican capital.

“I don’t presume to reinvent Mexican food,” Sandoval said. “Mexican food is like soul food. The recipes are the same. Everybody has their interpretation of them. So, for me, this is my interpretation.”

Sandoval said the beef birria tacos are the trending menu item at the moment. For first-time patrons, Sandoval recommended the pork “taco Mexica.”

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Sandoval said the restaurant has given him the opportunity to connect with the community and be the teacher he had wanted to be for the young people who work with him.

    “It’s a blessing,” Sandoval said. “I’m very thankful. I guess I never imagined that I would be able to be part of this community and then be recognized in that way. You know, it’s a testament of all the hardworking people that have gone through Maize.”

    [email protected]