Best Imitation of a Mayan Temple - 2009
Macayo's Mexican Kitchen
Macayo's is more than just a nice place to have dinner. This renowned Mexican restaurant is a great place to go to relive your lunchtime past over a plateful of flautas and a bowl of pico de gallo, because it's been standing on North Central Avenue for decades, and there's hardly anyone who can't recall having dined there "back when." Macayo's is also a traffic hazard, at least for out-of-town visitors or newbies who can't help but take their eyes off the road to gaze in shock (and possibly horror!) at the restaurant's gaudy façade. Its multi-hued, step-down front — which emulates the over-the-top stylings of a Mayan temple — has been screaming to passing traffic for decades.
This tarted-up Mexican mainstay is also a movie star, having appeared rather infamously in the 1969 movie Chastity, starring Cher as a hippie hitching rides in front of Macayo's. And, perhaps most notably, Macayo's is a leading chapter in the history of Mexican-American cuisine, because it is allegedly the place where the chimichanga was invented.
But we digress, because while Macayo's may be a local landmark, it's mostly a restaurant where people both famous (Bill Cosby, Fleetwood Mac, the Obamas) and infamous (Elvira, Liberace) have dined. Those of us outside the spotlight have also eaten at this garish Central Avenue location, which threw open its doors in 1952. When we're not dropping in for chips and salsa and quesadillas, Phoenicians can feast their eyes on the spectacle of our very own downtown Mayan temple.