Yes, Maxi’s is now in Santa Ana, in an old converted home that had previously housed the Italian restaurant Casa 97. This is the real deal, folks. Ricky Barthley and his wife, who opened the original Maxi’s some 20 years ago, have moved to the city and brought their famous Caribbean cuisine with them.
On a recent weeknight visit, the place was pretty crowded and festive, with heavy wood furniture, painted in the bright colors of the Jamaican flag, filling several rooms and covered outdoor patio spaces. The menu was Maxi’s traditional menu, with classic Rice ‘n Beans coming served with your choice of chicken, fish, shrimp, steak, pork or lobster, alongside a whole host of other options.
I’ll admit it, right off the bat, I have a soft spot for Maxi’s. I first ate at Maxi’s over 17 years ago, when Manzanillo was a forgotten little village at the far end of a rugged dirt road. And I’ve eaten there regularly over the years. This isn’t fine dining, but it is authentic Costa Rican Caribbean cooking.
We were served a complimentary appetizer of little bite-sized bowls made of plantain filled with a few different fillings—including guacamole, garbanzos, chorizo and refried beans. All were quite good.
My whole red snapper was on the small size (it’s all they had available, and was priced by weight), but wonderful. Maria Jose’s chicken in peanut sauce was a bit bland, and the sauce itself too thick and lacking in finesse. Fabrizio’s fried chicken did the trick, and the patacones were large, thin and crisp, just the way we like them.
Another plus, while Maxi’s down in Manzanillo had become a bit of a victim of its own success—too crowded, too loud, sometimes lax service—Ricky and crew are working hard to make a name for themselves in a new spot and are very on top of things.
They don’t have a liquor license yet, but you can bring your own, with no corkage fee.
Longtime fans of Maxi’s in Manzanillo will notice the lack of Barcelona futbol memorabilia, although I was assured it was on its way. I was also assured that the original restaurant was going strong under the care of some relatives.
Maxi’s is located about 350 meters south of Broadway Beauty, which itself is just a few hundred meters outside of downtown Santa Ana on the Old Road to Escazu.