Last week I asked my two friends, Ruth and Ginny, to meet me for an early dinner. 

I chose Azteca Mexican Restaurant on the BLVD in Lancaster and much to my surprise, they mentioned they had never been there. 

I was excited to have them try it because I know how good the food is.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the owner, with a very warm, "Welcome, please sit anywhere you like.” 

We picked a well-lit window booth. In fact, the entire restaurant was very well lit and quite inviting. After the menus were distributed, drink orders taken and chips and salsa placed on the table, we were ready to start sampling some of the food.

Let me start with our drink order, as they now serve beer, wine and agave wine margaritas. I ordered a strawberry margarita. It was bold, refreshing, fruity and full-bodied. Ginny and Ruth each went for a glass of white Zinfandel. After a nice toast to “friendship,” we partook in a very delicious and oh, so refreshing drink. 

Before we put in our dinner order, we decided to try the Azteca appetizer combo, complete with taquitos, beef chimis, a flauta, nachos and a quesadilla, served with guacamole and sour cream. 

This was a true delight and almost a meal in itself. 

There was plenty for everyone, with a little left over. The combo included punches of reds, greens and yellow with just as many flavors. The nachos were my favorite, with beans, cheese, pico de gallo and jalapeños nestled on a bed of tortilla chips with dollops of creamy and flavorful guacamole and sour cream on top. 

The flautas and taquitos were both stuffed with moist, tender and well-seasoned beef and the quesadilla had just the right amount of cheese. The combo is a definite must have, when you dine at Azteca.

Everything, and I mean everything, was made from scratch. Freshness  is what this restaurant prides itself on. From the chips to the salsa, everything we ate was fresh, delicious and satisfying. 

Speaking of the chips, not only were they warm, but they were accompanied by three made-from-scratch salsas: red (medium spicy with a nice kick at the end), green (mild and flavorful) and dark (very spicy). They all were tasty and each had it’s own distinct taste.

I have noticed, over the years of reviewing restaurants, that no two have exactly the same cooking techniques, even if they are the same ethnicity. There are always differences. Take the tamale for instance, I have had almost every flavor imaginable and prepared many different ways, however, at Azteca, they put a completely different spin on it. 

We ordered an a la carte chicken tamale for $2.95 and thought it would be small, plain and steamed with the husk. That wasn’t the case. In fact, small wasn’t a word that could be used for anything at Azteca. A beautifully presented plate arrived with a rather large tamale covered in white and yellow cheese and smothered in a dark red sauce. We looked at each other with disbelief in our eyes, amazed at what we were looking at. I just couldn’t wait to dive in— and, in I dove. 

The flavor was incredible, the rich, dark red sauce, which was very similar to enchilada sauce, worked well with the cheese-covered tamale. Each bite was so delicious. The only downfall was that I had to share it with my companions, but, I guess that was good in a way, as it allowed me to have room to taste everything else.

Ginny ordered a beef tostada. The flour shell was fried to a golden brown in 100% vegetable oil, as it says on the menu. There was virtually no grease. It was filled with quite a bit of tender, well-seasoned meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and rice, then topped with freshly-made, cold, refreshing and absolutely delicious guacamole. I’m so happy she shared a bite or two with me, as it was really good.

I ordered the chile Colorado served with rice, beans and flour tortillas. What a wonderful plate. It had chunks of tender, seasoned beef in a deep, red, thick and savory sauce and refried beans covered with melted cheese and a very light and fluffy tasty Spanish rice, made even tastier, sprinkled with a little green sauce and then scooped up with a chip or two.  

I put some of the meat in one of the steamed flour tortillas and enjoyed it as a burrito. This dish was served just the way I like it – making me a very happy camper.

Ruth ordered the cheese enchilada and chile relleno combination, served with the same yummy Spanish rice and beans that I had with my plate. 

The cheese enchilada was very cheesy inside and out. It was covered in a delicious red sauce and the chile relleno was heaven on a plate, covered in that same yummy red sauce. It had a very unique and wonderful flavor. 

Luckily, I only need one bite to tell whether I like something, as one bite was all I got. Her combination was scrumptious and she had enough left over for lunch the next day.

Everyone knows by now, that I like to end my meals on a sweet note and this time was no exception. We decided on the fried ice cream. We got one giant scoop of cornflake battered ice cream nestled inside cinnamon sugared tortilla chips, topped with a mound of whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup. There are only two words needed to describe this sweet plate of heaven and that would be sheer perfection and the perfect end to our meal.

Azteca Restaurant serves a great breakfast from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m., with over 13 different items (ham or bacon and eggs, chicken omelet, huevos rancheros, chorizo burritos and more) served with rice and beans or home fried potatoes. 

Lunch and dinner consists of appetizers (Mexican pizza, wings and cheese chips), soups (albondigas, chicken, menudo, tortilla),  tostadas (flat and crispy or flour),tacos (soft or crispy with al pastor, beef, carne asada, carnitas, chicken or fish), tortas (served with French fries), burritos (made with beans and rice inside plus your favorite meat), fajitas (beef, chicken, carnitas or shrimp), combinations and specialties like Camarones a la Diabla (spicy sautéed shrimp), carne adobada (marinated pork steak), chicken mole (breast of chicken in mole sauce), carnitas (chunks of delicious pork), chile verde (chunks of pork in green sauce), mojarra frita (whole fried perch) and so much more.

Beverages include soft drinks, iced tea, horchata, Jamaica, juices, coffee and hot chocolate — and as stated earlier, beer, wine and margaritas top the list. 

Azteca is open from from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. They are closed Monday. Catering and banquet facilities are available and for something really different, Azteca has their own taco truck to make any party more fun. 

For more information, call 310-831-7777. Stop by and enjoy a nice meal at 814 W. Lancaster Blvd. 

Bon Appétit!

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