If you’ve ever driven down Maple, past 72nd towards Historic Benson — you’ve seen Mantra Bar & Grille (6913 Maple Street). A small space that ordinarily would get overlooked, its neon trees catch your eyes no matter how focused on the road you are. With its modge-podge parking spots (pro-tip: always aim for the garage doors facing Maple first), intimate patio area and open bar next to the interior dining space Mantra nails the hole-in-the-wall vibe without crossing over into divey.
Larger parties get the privilege of being the center piece in Mantra, flanked by smaller groups along the back wall and patio entryway. Food comes out quickly for the most part and Mantra has a good selection of cocktails, wines, beers and other libations to take your mind off of how hungry you may be. Their bottomless mimosa special is standard fare (pro tip two: ask them to add pineapple) jazzed up by the promo “penny a piece mimosas after purchase of two”.
My first Mantra visit was for a birthday dinner. As we waited for everyone in the party to arrive the bartender let us order a drink while we waited. I started with a peach julep because it was one of the few bourbon based specialty cocktails. Ended up being just a little too sweet for me.
Someone at the table ordered spinach artichoke dip to share. Creamy deliciousness in a good sized ramekin that wasn’t overpowered by any one ingredient. It came with both pita crackers and crusty french bread. The french bread was definitely the better choice for this appetizer.
I decided on the seafood enchiladas, which I knew could be risky. The scallops were definitely fresh and the cumin cream sauce would be good on quite a few things. The filling did come across very bland, the strongest flavors came from the cream sauce and beans (which weren’t choke full of it either).
I also tried the black and blue Manhattan that night. A much stronger drink choice than the julep, the blackberry jam didn’t make the Manhattan too syrupy sweet.
My next visit to Mantra was for brunch. We started with the obligatory mimosa which had a good ratio of booze to juice.
Although I’m not a huge crepe fan I tried their special that day — a crepe with chorizo and jalapeno hollandaise. The crepe was fabulously done and there was enough filling to give it real substance. The hollandiase wasn’t too spicy and the side of potatoes were just crispy enough. The English muffins were the best I’ve had at a restaurant in a while.
If you find yourself driving down Maple and have a few hours to spend Mantra is definitely worth a visit. While their menu isn’t huge, they take the time to get many things right. And who doesn’t want to eat dinner by neon tree light.