After living in the Great Lakes region of the USA for 5 years without REAL Mexican food it was great to move to Spokane where there was REAL Mexican flavors once again. Azteca has been in Spokane as long as we have, maybe longer and I think it is pretty authentic tasting.... rice, beans, asado, cilantro... fajitas... all without oregano and mozzarella as the main ingredient, you have to love that!
We grew up in the Southwest where burritos, tamales and enchiladas are part of life...thought of as American food. What we endured back east just wasn't the same. (The stories I could tell.) We did get rescued during that 5 year period when someone finally opened a good Mexican restaurant, but it was three long years of leaning to eat Italian flavored "Mexican food" while laughing at it. It was tasty, but not Mexican, not by far. We endured.
Geo has a chile relleno addiction, and I love tamales so Mexican food sounded especially yummy today when some friends invited us to dine with them for lunch! The place of choice was Azteca, (on the north side of town.) located at 9738 North Newport Highway, in the Northpoint shopping center.
The first thing I look for in a Mexican food restaurant is good salsa, and Azteca has it. I also like their chips. What I do not like is their big, fat, heavy, photographic menu, (but that is just a personal preference.) Besides being heavy to hold, I think it is a confusing menu. Looking to try something out of the ordinary for me, left me... ordering nothing unusual.
Photos on a menu are helpful if you want to know what something looks like... I can appreciate photos... but I was a bit disappointed that one of the photos had a disclaimer that the food in the picture, (a three enchilada dish) was not served in a hot plate dish as it is pictured in the photograph, which made me dislike the menu more... but hey, we are not eating the menu, right? We are eating the real stuff that they bring you and that is what really matters:
Here is what our food looked like:
Mine was the green plate.
Unfortunately, and I am sad to report that my taco arrived soggy.
Fortunately, and thanks to my friend Steve who had flour tortillas with his meal, I was rescued! I simply created my own "Paco Taco" as we call them and I didn't have to cry.
My food was good, and I was in the mood for a tamale, (I always am,) which was on my "combination plate." I was not so happy about the soggy taco though...
(They are supposed to be crunchy!)
This was a bummer...my stuffing kinda fell out of my taco.
Nan ordered a dish and asked for "no cheese." you should have seen the waiter's expression. A few minutes after taking our order to the kitchen, the waiter came back, told her this was nearly impossible with what she ordered and asked her how much she did not want cheese in her food. She changed her order, glad that he was attentive. Funny thing was though, she ended up with cheese on her beans and didn't eat them! Geo noted, "Ordering Mexican food without cheese is a little bit like ordering a hamburger without meat." She was a little bummed-out about not getting a salad as per the first thing she ordered....
Geo says his enchilada was cold, and his relleno, good, but not "the best." He always makes me try a bite.... and I didn't like it, but then I seldom do. I have had good rellenos though! (It just seems to me that too often these restaurants make a common practice of making them ahead instead of fresh... and this was one of those."
Azteca is a lot of people's favorite place for Mexican food in Spokane. We do not think it is the best, but we know why people like it. It has a fun, festive "Mexican" atmosphere, (Mexican music, waiters who speak Spanish.... and (in my opinion) great salsa... good chips and delicious guacamole...and three convenient locations too. It's always been a good place to gather with a few friends for food and very accommodating for a large group as well as kids. I think one reason people like it so much however is not the food, but the "happy hour" and the specialty beverages they have with their food...margaritas, tequila... etcetera....Not being drinkers, we go for food, and usually drink water with our meal.
The food at Azteca, at least today, was "good," but nothing I would call "excellent." It was a nice time however with our... muy buenos amigos."
As for the food:
"Quizás la proxima vez."