Ahh, Mexican food — it’s one of my favorites! Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Palmdale just opened their second location. They must be doing something right to warrant this new location. 

My sister Debi, granddaughter Arissa and I found it to be a great idea, while searching restaurants for lunch last week. As we were driving on Rancho Vista Boulevard, we noticed balloons and immediately turned in to see what was going on. We soon discovered a quaint little restaurant in the middle of the strip mall with Mexican art displayed on the walls and a very pleasing aroma emitting from the kitchen.

We sat down in a nice cozy booth. Hot and crispy chips with delicious salsa were brought to the table and our drink order was taken all within the first five minutes — great service right off the bat. We ordered horchata (sweet cinnamon drink made from rice-flavor, similar to rice pudding), Jamaica (hibiscus flavored tea —tart with a subtle tang similar to cranberry) and a bottled soda. Beer (Tecate, Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo and Pacifico) and micheladas (clamato, lemon, salt, hot sauce and of course, beer) were available, but it was lunch time and I was working.

Since I decided to do a review, we ordered family style, so I would be able to taste a little of everything, or at least that was the excuse I gave them. The menu had a nice variety of options: Breakfast (ranchero-style eggs — ham, bacon or sausage and eggs; Mexican-style eggs and chilaquiles), soup (traditional menudo served with handmade tortillas, birria, which is spicy stew and barbacoa), combinations plates served with rice, beans and handmade tortillas, alambres (grilled beef topped with cheese, salsa, chopped bacon and onion), appetizers, molcajete (beautifully presented mixture of seasoned  steak, shrimp, chicken and chorizocooked in a spicy sauce then layered all the way around the rim of the traditional molcajete with green onion, peppers and hot salsafor dipping), specialties (tortasquesadillas, tacos, burritos and huaraches — Mexican flatbread with toppings) and seafood (shrimp cocktail, Mexican-style fried fish, ceviche and fish tostadas).

 So, on with my order, which was a wet asada burrito with green sauce, cheese enchilada combo, three-taco combo, huevos con chorizo (eggs with sausage) and shrimp tostada. I was very happy that they serve breakfast, in fact, it’s served all day.

Tomatillo or green sauce, not only has an excellent flavor, but it’s my favorite part of Mexican food. I enjoy plenty of it on everything from my beans and rice to my entrée. The flavor is tart, fruity and slightly herbal, which complements almost anything it is slathered on or dipped into. The humungous burrito was smothered in this very delicious-tasting green sauce (I just mentioned) and melted cheese, which was the perfect combination of flavor. This was the dish that Debi helped pick out and I guess she thought it would be mainly for her. Really, with all that yummy sauce?  It was hard for me to share, but I did, right after I put a nice hefty portion on my plate, scooping up as much sauce and cheese as I could. Every bite had all the ingredients mixed together and it was pure deliciousness.

The cheese enchiladas were served with excellent-tasting beans and very flavorful rice. The rich, red and savory sauce had a very nice taste that blended well with the cotija cheese and sour cream that topped the enchiladas. I thought the beautiful presentation matched the incredible flavor — creamy, fresh and very cheesy.

Shrimp tostadas are another favorite of mine, especially with extra lime. I like to think of it as shrimp salsa. Diced shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cilantro and lime piled high on top of a crisp corn tortilla is light and refreshing with a zing at the end, pure bliss. This was the one item I did not share. I enjoyed bite after delicious bite, right down to the last drop of lime juice.

Our taco combo consisted of three street tacos (small soft tortillas with seasoned grilled meat, onions, cilantro, chile and spices), rice and beans. We chose two pollo (chicken) and one asada (steak) — what an amazingly delicious treat. For something so small, they packed quite a punch, hence, chile and spices. Just be sure to have plenty of water to drink afterward.

I saved the breakfast for the end of the review, as it was the last thing I ate. Kind of like eating dessert first, I had breakfast last. It was lightly scrambled eggs with quite a nice serving of chorizo folded in. I put some of the tomatillo sauce and melted cheese from the burrito all over my eggs, which not only made it more colorful, but increased the flavor as well. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this dish, even though I only gave Debi and Arissa a small bite, allowing me to devour the rest. I think this was even better than dessert and the perfect end to our meal.

Azteca Mexican Restaurant will celebrate its grand opening, May 11. They are located at 550 W. Rancho Vista Blvd., Suite C, 661-434-0584. The original restaurant is located at 856 W. Palmdale Blvd., 661-526-0827. Both restaurants are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday; and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday. 

Bon appetit!

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