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.”
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.
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Upscale, authentic experience
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.
Here’s what’s on Cenote’s menus
Top photo: Cenote. (Google Maps)