Pueblo Maya Mexican Restaurant

33 Buford Village Way, Suite 311, Buford

678-714- 6915

Owner: Rene Rivera

Open since: Jan. 16

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Location: Pueblo Maya is located in the Buford Village Way Shopping Center off Buford Highway and Hamilton Mill Road.

Atmosphere: Take a drive around Gwinnett County and you’ll see dozens of restaurants competing for the business of the more than 800,000 residents. With so many options, Pueblo Maya’s goal has been to stand out with authentic Tex-Mex cuisine.

Lively Latin music and bright colors draw patrons into the large restaurant that is just a stone’s throw away from one of Buford’s busiest roads, Buford Highway.

The inspiration for the bright colors comes from management’s vision of what a Mexican restaurant should be.

“We’re transforming the Tex-Mex style by making it more Mexican,” Pueblo Maya General Manager Carlos Diaz said. “We have the a unique flavor and are looking to have quality service for customers around the Buford area.”

Previously, Diaz was in management at Agavero Cantina, located in Lilburn off U.S. Highway 29.

“We have a lot of customers from over there that are ready to come over here,” Diaz said. “We have the opportunity to bring them over because they already know us. It’s going to be fun to have them over here and will definitely be a different experience.”

Diaz’s path to becoming general manager at Pueblo Maya is one that has taken a lifetime.

“I started in the restaurant business before I was born,” Diaz said. “My father used to run restaurants back in Mexico.”

Diaz got into the restaurant business after earning a degree in business and marketing in Mexico. After he arrived in the United States, he started working as a server.

His experience at all levels of the restaurant and hospitality business is one reason why Pueblo Maya aims for not just good food, but rather a great experience that includes good food.

Pueblo Maya is trying to become more than just a restaurant; it’s looking to be a gathering place. The dining area and bar have televisions set up for patrons to watch big sporting events. Diaz says they also have a room for private gatherings.

“We have a private dining room that we’re looking to rent out to companies that want to have business lunches or if somebody wants to have a private party,” Diaz said.

Menu: In its quest to make the food it serves the type of cuisine you would expect if you were to visit Mexico, the restaurant offers options that might not be available at most other restaurants. One example Diaz points out is using green tomatillo salsa in the enchiladas.

“We have fresh-made Mexican food with a modern flair,” Diaz said. “We offer classic Mexican dishes as well as some signature dishes not available anywhere else.”

Patrons will find dishes such as the Chilaquiles — corn tortilla chips simmered in a tomatillo salsa topped with grilled chicken or steak, two fried eggs, diced onions, cheese and cilantro — as well as the Enchiladas Isla Mujeres — enchiladas filled with shrimp and fish cooked with pico de gallo, topped with jalapeño cheese dip, ranchero salsa, lettuce and tomatoes.

Diaz’s favorite dish on the menu comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s the Tika Cheese Burger. The burger is in line with the restauarant’s approach on taking classic Mexican ingredients such as chorizo and grilled onions and combining them an American classic of bacon and ground beef.

“It’s a very flavorful dish for everyone to taste,” Diaz said. “It’s Mexican food wrapped into a popular traditional dish.”

Pueblo Maya offers daily specials including: $3 off house margaritas on Mondays, $2 tacos on Tuesdays, $1 off draft beers on Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Pueblo Maya will feature live music. A Mariachi band will play on Thursdays, live jazz be played on Fridays and live music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s will be played on Saturdays. To close out the week, the restaurant will offer $1 off draft beer and $3 off house margaritas on Sundays.

What you might not know: The name Pueblo Maya was chosen as a tribute to the Mayan people. Diaz and the rest of the management group went through a list of names looking for something unique.

“When a lot of people think of Mexican restaurants, they think of Aztecs, but we wanted to be different, and thought by paying homage to the Mayans we would be different,” Diaz said.