A Breath of Fresh Air in Long Beach



The real gem of this property, though, is its restaurant Fuego, run by executive chef Jesse Perez, who studied extensively in Mexico and was recently named  2009's Top Latino Chef in the United States by the Flavors of Passion Awards. The restaurant is a spacious two-story room with walls that peel back completely to reveal the large deck area of the dining room and bay views. A tequila-based bar is tucked off in the corner with cozy nooks to sample the extensive collection. Perez's food is one of the best examples of Latin fusion I have had in a long time; it actually works on the plate and not just in the advertisements. Duck al pastor tacos with chile California and roasted piña make an inspired starter, and Perez has perfected mole sauce. The drink menu is equally enticing, with a fine selection of wines and original cocktails — I stuck most closely to the El Diablo, which consists of Corzo silver tequila, Chambord, ginger beer, and lime on the rocks. Food, like the rooms, is reasonable here.

Hotel Maya is part of the Joie de Vivre hotel group, the San Francisco-based chain whose founder and CEO is gay businessman, speaker, and author Chip Conley. The corporation gives to LGBT causes, so staying at the Hotel Maya keeps money flowing back to the gay community. If you tire of the great food and peaceful nights, you can walk to the Queen Mary down the street or take a cab or water taxi into the city. All in all, Hotel Maya offers the best of relaxation and convenience in the heart of Long Beach, whatever your idea of a good time is.

Tags: Travel