Family Fiesta

. February 18, 2013.

A recent Girls Night Out at Plaza Azteca Restaurantes Mexicanos resulted in “entrée envy” and in a quick return visit with my family and more friends. Entree Envy is a silly term I coined a while ago. Basically, even though I’m enjoying my own meal, it means I’m looking around the table wishing I had ordered what someone else has because it looks so good. The foodie in me always wants to try it all. On that particular night it was the Azteca Salad.
Out for a break
In the middle of crazy activity and school schedules for the kids, my neighbor and I found ourselves with an open Tuesday night. Still thinking of that Azteca Salad, we grabbed the kids and hubbies and went out for a fiesta. We turned it into a little birthday party for my daughter. (Not that I needed an excuse to get back there for that salad.)
Plaza Azteca opened approximately nine months ago on Monroe St. next to Shorty’s BBQ. The architecture of the building is inviting, and it has a large wrap around patio for the warmer weather. The inside is cozy with a subdued color scheme, tile floors, authentic Mexican décor, and brick archways down both sides of the dining area separating booths and adding a bit of privacy. General Manager Rafael Alvarez spoke of expansion plans as the current general seating area is rather cozy. The bar and waiting area are small as well, so I suggest reservations on weekend evenings when they are very busy.
True to its roots
Alvarez is from the Mexican state of Jalisco which borders the Pacific in the central western region of Mexico. He said the founder of Plaza Azteca is also from Jalisco and the unique entrees on their menu reflect the food of that region. Despite 30 locations in seven states this is the only Plaza Azteca in Ohio. They take much pride in the way they serve authentic Mexican food. The entrees came out looking picture perfect on the white Zen plates.
As we began our fiesta with some tasty margaritas, we also enjoyed having some fresh guacamole prepared tableside; exactly how we liked it. Oh it was sooo good. They have a Kids’ Menu for 12 and under for $5.99 including a soft drink. The seven choices ranged from burritos to tacos, pizza, hot dogs, quesadillas, etc. The kids tried a little of everything and liked it all. Note that on Mondays kids receive a free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. With four adults and 6 noisy kids, our waiter was most gracious and didn’t even seem perturbed when my youngest dumped his Sprite all over the floor. Thankfully it was the only spill of the evening.
Authentic cuisine
Well beyond the basic burritos and tacos are some of the most mouthwatering and unique entrees, as well as reasonably priced, I’ve seen on a Mexican restaurant’s menu. Ruben Chicken Zucchini, Tilapia Veracruz, Stuffed Chicken and Pescado Azteca are just a few. I can’t explain them all here, but trust me, their menu does not equate to “smothered in cheese and salsa”, and I am looking forward to trying something new every time I go.
Fine choices
The Azteca Salad I’ve mentioned is fajita grilled shrimp, chicken, and mushrooms over a bed of lettuce, tomato, cheese and pico de gallo for $9.75. After all the anticipation, I was not disappointed. My husband ordered the Spinach & Chicken Enchiladas for $7.94. They were three corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and spinach topped with roasted poblano salsa and white cheese served with rice. It was another fine choice. Other meals ordered at our table were fajitas, chicken fried rice, burritos and tacos. Suffice it to say we left nothing behind.
Rounding out our evening, I had mentioned to our waiter in passing that we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday. Before we knew it, they brought her a sombrero, a complimentary ice cream taco to share, and they serenaded her. She was a little embarrassed, but left not a morsel of desert on her plate.
Bottom Line
The Mexican restaurants around town vary greatly from “Americanized Mexican” to “Authentic Mexican”, and many in between. Plaza Azteca takes the Mexican menu to another level with many original and flavorful dishes. Add that to good service, a nice atmosphere and reasonable prices and your family can make any day a fiesta.