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Social justice, moral rectitude, and mass compassion aren’t usually washed down with a margarita, but Carlos Santana believes he can serve up all of this and some delicious duck tacos at Maria Maria, a restaurant chain (they also have Joe Di Maggio’s in the Domain) with the first Texas outlet in Austin. Merging music and food is a no-brainer in Austin, but the celebrity of Carlos Santana gives Maria Maria a palpable energy. At a recent media event to celebrate the opening of the restaurant, The Carlos made an appearance that had most of the local media a twitter–KVUE’s Olga Campos donned a pair of Santana stilettos for the occasion. When asked why Austin, the usual response about music and Austin was dispensed, but later Santana went into a long response about his moral responsibility to all of the people in this country who need opportunity. (BTW, Santana believes in the change promised by President-elect Obama.) As Santana sees it, the shoes, the restaurants, the celebrity are all tools to advance Latinos and Latinas and others who need economic opportunity and a dream. Supernatural Santana talked a lot of heart, compassion, and giving back–he meets with the kitchen staff on every trip. A self proclaimed hippie, Santana touts that he hasn’t been knighted by the Queen of England like Mick Jagger and Elton John, but rather by Bob Dylan. For him this means that he’s found the wawh, as the African women who taught him to drum call the fourth beat in the 4/4 that Santana has mastered. For him it means it’s got rhythm, heart, and soul. According to Santana, Austin has the wawh. An interior styled Mexican menu at Maria Maria is spearheaded by Roberto Santibanez who honed his chops at Fonda San Miguel and overall it’s tasty. Complex chile sauces and crab enchiladas may be ambitious for a chain that plans on national expansion, but then again they have the wawh of Carlos Santana. Maria Maria – 415 Colorado Street Austin, TX 78701 (925) 944-2464 www.mariamariarestaurants.com