Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Can Riviera Maya exorcise a haunted venue?

Lechon al horno at Riviera Maya.
LEO photo by Frankie Steele.
This may seem a topic better suited for Halloween than the dead of icy winter coming up on Fat Tuesday, but hey, let's talk about "haunted" restaurant locations. Local foodies quickly learn about these venues that seem to labor under a curse, housing one short-lived restaurant failure after another. ...

I've certainly heard people in the business use a broad vocabulary of curse words to describe the Frankfort Avenue storefront that, back in the '70s, housed the original Lynn's, soon followed by a range of eateries from Jamaican to Korean to Chef Alan Rosenberg's short-lived Danielle's and, most recently, the short-lived Cubana.

Walking along the avenue the other day, we noticed there's a new tenant here, a bright and inviting Mexican restaurant called "Riviera Maya."

Say what? The Mayan Riviera, Mexico's answer to Destin, is a place of blue Gulf waters, white-sand beaches, intriguing Mayan temple ruins and affordable vacation packages. Centered on Cozumel, it lies on the tip of the Yucatan, jutting out into the Gulf in the general direction of Cuba.

"Mayan" is also a term of culinary significance in Louisville, where Chef Bruce Ucan's landmark Mayan Café, which started in NuLu before NuLu was even invented, has introduced us to the Mayan cuisine of the Yucatan and Guatemala.

After a quick lunch at Riviera Maya, I can't say it's another Mayan Café. But I'm ready to welcome it as an inviting addition to the Frankfort Avenue strip.

Read my full review on LouisvilleHotBytes, or click to it in this week's LEO Weekly.