Cenote Modern Mexican officially opens in Sayville’s former Bistro 25


A new kind of authentic Mexican experience has landed in Sayville. 

After over a decade of serving the Sayville community as Bistro 25 — and then as Bistro LI, owner Michael Turner has revamped the restaurant once again.

Inspired by the current modern Mexican food trend, Cenote (pronounced seh-NO-teh) Modern Mexican introduces Yucatán traditions to customers — a dining harmony experience that blends traditional and contemporary approaches to Mexican food. 

“We wanted to create a destination experience for people in the community,” said Jessica Btesh, senior project manager of A2Z Restaurant Consulting. “There is not a lot of cultural variety I would say and very minimal authentic experiences.”

Click here or look below our story to check out Cenote’s food and drink menus.

Turner said this next chapter for 45 Foster Ave. just “feels right.”

“Sayville is a really nice community and rather than introduce the traditional Mexican restaurant we all know and love, I’d bring something more modern and maybe sophisticated,” he said. “It’s an old-world, different experience. The ingredients are fresh, delicious and easy to handle.”

What the heck is a cenote?

Cenotes are deep water wells most commonly found in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. 

Known for their freshness and serenity, cenotes are often described as the “hearts of the Earth.” 

These hidden gems hold a historical meaning as well, as they were once sacred places for the ancient Mayan civilization. Keeping this significance in mind, Btesh said the “spiritual” feeling of cenotes is emulated through the new restaurant.

Story continues after photo.

People swimming in Yokdzonot Cenote in Yucatán, Mexico. Photo by Ruben Hanssen via Unsplash.

Upscale, authentic experience 

Created by Chef Chris Owens, the menu is split up into five sections: cositas pequeñas (appetizers), tacos and platos (entrees), bebitas (drinks), and dulcitos (desserts). 
Owens, a Northern California native, gained an appreciation for fresh, hyper-seasonal projects during his travels throughout the U.S. and Mexico. 

While eating his way across the United States southwest and Mexico, he gained a better understanding of the benefits of cooking over “live fire.” 

“It’s cooking over wood or coal,” Btesh said. “The flavors are accentuated completely different and I feel like it makes us different than other Mexican restaurants I’ve seen on Long Island. We don’t have burritos, we’re not using flour tortillas, it’s a more upscale authentic experience.” 

As far as the atmosphere goes, Btesh described the vibe as similar to a “restaurant near a resort you’re staying at in Mexico.”

The colors are vibrant, the margaritas are named after famous cenotes in the Yucatán, and the customers are introduced to old — but reinvented — traditions, Btesh said.

“One thing that stuck out to me when he was making the menu — it’s small but it matters — was pumpkin seeds,” she said. “Pumpkin seeds are something that Mexicans use a lot, especially in the South, but when you go to an American-Mexican place, you never find anything with pumpkin seeds. One, because the price is higher, but two, (the restaurants) don’t really care how authentic it is.”

Passing the torch

Cenote Modern Mexican has been in its soft-opening phase. Thursday, Sept. 22, is the grand opening celebration, hosted by A2Z Media Management.

Since quietly launching earlier this month, Btesh said the feedback from customers has been positive.

“I personally have opened over 20-25 restaurants in the past few years, and this is one of the most flawless openings we’ve had,” Btesh said. “We got so many compliments in service, so many compliments in the presentation. The Instagram even blew up faster than I expected.”

Michael Turner said he is in semi-retirement mode and is looking to take more of a back seat in the business.

“I’m going to hand off the reins to a younger group,” he said. “Conceptually, it was my idea, along with my consultants, but I’m handing the baton off to Chris [Owens] and my manager Theresa Reischman.”

Cenote Modern Mexican is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m.; and Sunday from 4-9 p.m.

For updates, follow Cenote on Instagram and Facebook, or visit their website for more information.

Here’s what’s on Cenote’s menus

Top photo: Cenote. (Google Maps)