Making a strong initial impression is crucial upon entering any new place of business as it establishes the atmosphere for the entire experience. Upon our eager arrival at Casa Ya’ax located at 51 NE 24th Street in Wynwood, we were surprised by the hostess’s remarkably rude demeanor. It was puzzling why we received such an impolite greeting, and we noticed that the two patrons in front of us got a similar treatment, devoid of any smile or eye contact, and then we were both promptly seated at the two most undesirable tables. They were at the table by the front door and then us, at the back door next to the booming music from their weekend garden patio party out back, when the rest of the restaurant was empty. Every time the back door opened we were met with an explosion of disruptive sound and a blast of wind. After requesting a relocation, albeit reluctantly, granted by the hostess, our evening began on a less than favourable note. Thankfully, the situation improved significantly with the arrival of our friendly and courteous server Ignacio.

Casa Ya’ax which opened its doors in December 2023, boasts Chef Omar Montero at the helm. With a culinary background rooted in his family’s catering business in Mexico, Montero refined his skills at a University in Mexico City before making his mark in Miami. His journey included a stint at the renowned Setai Hotel and the launch of a successful food truck in Little River back in 2017. Now Montero has transitioned into a lovely brick-and-mortar establishment in Wynwood.

The restaurant’s name translates into “greenhouse” and sets the tone for its inviting ambiance. Soft green hues, contemporary Mexican accents, and woven rattan lampshade baskets create a warm and modern atmosphere. With ambient lighting and a clubby playlist, the space exudes a Tulum vibe, complemented by an attractive bar, and polished concrete floors.

The bathrooms were out the back near the patio, and although very attractive, were dirty because of the weekend party going on out back. We had to mention this to the staff inside and a cleaner with a dripping mop traipsed through the restaurant during dinner to go and clean them. This was most unappetizing, and they shouldn’t have to be asked to clean their restrooms (so gross).

The menu, a beautiful celebration of authentic Mexican flavours, showcases the chef’s culinary prowess. However, our dining experience was hindered by under-staffing. Our server, handling an entire restaurant solo, resulted in long wait times and inconsistent service, which were not his fault. Too many dishes came out at once and were thus hard to enjoy. Despite the challenges, standout dishes like the corn and red quinoa masa gorditas stole the show.

Unfortunately, the dining mishaps continued with under-cooked chicken, initially served with a Casa Ya’ax mole and tamarind polo reduction. Upon request for proper cooking, the chef initially hesitated, insisting it should be served as is. Eventually, he relented, and the chicken got cooked through. It happened to be a delicious preparation.

Though the cocktail and wine program lacked a formal menu due to liquor license issues, the mojitos were a standout. Our dessert choice, a Mexican chocolate and orange infused mousse with a dry ice presentation, concluded the meal on a high note.

In conclusion, Casa Ya’ax shows promise with its upscale and creative Mexican cuisine paired with a cool ambiance. However, improvements to staffing, attitude, and consistency are needed to fully realize their promising potential.

Happy dining,




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