Cheen-Huaye Mexican restaurant expands menu, dining room in North Miami

Cheen-Huaye photo by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald

Chéen-Huaye Mexican restaurant in North Miami recently expanded, adding another dining room with replicas of Mayan pyramid carvings.

Find favorites like fajitas, tacos and ceviche with mango and a smattering of Yucatecan dishes with Caribbean influences. Two new Mayan weekend specials joined Chéen-Huaye’s menu a month ago.

Executive chef-owner Marco Velasquez grew up in Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, and has a blended Mayan Indian and Spanish heritage.

He learned to cook from his mother, and he came to Miami at 18 and worked for Mark Soyka for 16 years at the News Café. His Brazilian-born wife, Magna, works the front of the house at Chéen-Huaye. 

It was on a drive seven years ago from Miami to Merida for their wedding that the couple decided to open a place of their own. The name means “only here,” with dishes not found elsewhere in South Florida.

The new specials are chicken tamales seasoned with achiote seeds ground with spices, Mexican oregano and garlic; and brazo de reina (queens arm), a traditional tamal dish with masa dough mixed with bits of hard-cooked eggs and spinach-like chaya leaves (grown from seeds brought from the Yucatan) rolled up and cut into slices then topped with pumpkin seed purée and tomato sauce. 

The regular menu offers pibil pork wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked for eight hours; sopa de lima with shredded chicken in broth steeped with blackened garlic, cinnamon, cloves and cilantro; and poc-chuc (grilled pork) marinated in sour orange juice with chilomate (roasted tomato-chile sauce) and pickled red onion. 

Dip churros in caramel goo to end.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.