The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

To dine or not to dine: Plaza Azteca

It sometimes feels like once you've been to one Mexican restaurant, you've been to them all. But that's not how I feel about Plaza Azteca on Broad Street. With a fun atmosphere, good drinks and huge portions, Plaza Azteca falls just a notch above other Mexican restaurants, including everyone's freshman year favorite, Mexico's.

Plaza Aztecta's decor may seem a little kitschy at first, but the stone floors and high-backed booths make your dining experience all the more fun. There is also a substantial outdoor dining area that does a decent job of masking the industrial surroundings.

The menu is extensive and boasts all of the traditional Mexican dishes, along with some non-traditional items such as barbecue and fajita nachos. Drinks are what you would expect them to be. Margaritas are tasty and not too sweet and the various beers by the bottle are sure to complement your meal nicely. I probably wouldn't order a dirty martini at a Mexican place, but if that's your drink of choice, I'm sure they can accommodate you.

But the food is what really makes Plaza Azteca shine. First, they shower you with unlimited chips, salsa and a creamy sauce that is reminiscent of ranch dressing but with more of a kick. You may want to tell them to hold the chips after the second or third round so that you have room for the sizeable meals.

If you leave Plaza Azteca without ordering the guacamole, which is made table-side, then you need someone to teach you how to dine out for Mexican food. One of my major pet peeves is a Mexican place that doesn't make the guacamole right in front of you. So what if it's a shameless marketing ploy to get you to pay triple for some guacamole, boy is it worth it. At Plaza Azteca you can customize your guac to be just as spicy, limey or cilantro-y as you like it. It's just one of those little things that can make all the difference.

Once you are adequately stuffed with chips, salsa and guacamole and feeling a slight buzz from your grande margarita, it's time to dive into the fajitas. Everyone who has eaten with me at Plaza Azteca agrees that the two best things on the menu are the fajitas and the fish tacos. When you're in the right mood there is nothing more satisfying than when that platter of chicken and vegetables finally arrives at the table, and you can hear it sizzling before you even see the waiter carrying it. The meats and veggies for the fajitas are sauteed in garlic oil and spices to give it its delicious flavor and make everything perfectly tender for the tortillas, which are kept warm in a separate container on the table. Each order of fajitas arrives with an entire plate of fajita trimmings on the side, including lettuce, tomato, sour cream, queso blanco and refried beans or rice. The fish for the fish tacos is lightly battered and pan-fried until golden brown. They're light and flaky and a nice deviation from some of the other more heavy entrees.

All in all, Plaza Azteca has everything you need in a great Mexican restaurant, plus affordable prices. The food is delicious, portions are generous and it's the ideal place for a fun group dinner.

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