Mexican Standoff: Plaza Azteca vs. Plaza Tolteca

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With all of the chains and local dives dotting Point Lookout Road, it’s hard for an eatery to distinguish itself in Lexington Park. I decided to investigate two restaurants who don’t seem to be trying to be unique at all, Plaza Azteca and Plaza Tolteca, to see if their food would set them apart more than their names do. The overwhelming winner was Plaza Azteca, whose better prices, food, atmosphere, and overall quality of the experience vastly eclipsed Plaza Tolteca.

Plaza Azteca:

After being greeted by the friendly staff and the encouraging site of a homemade tortilla press, my companion and I were seated and helped promptly by a server. The atmosphere was casual and fun, with a rustic Mexican design. The menu was huge, extensive, and reasonably priced for a college budget with lots of pictures. We took our time deciding over  fresh chips with a mild salsa that probably wouldn’t have the heat desired by any spice seekers, and a $3 margarita that, according to my friend, tasted like it was mostly tequila. To start, we ordered an appetizer called Pollo Gratinado that arrived on a sizzling skillet, and I could have eaten it as a meal. The dish consisted of grilled chicken that was incredibly tender and topped with onions and a creamy Mexican cheese mixture that made our chips disappear quickly, only to be replaced immediately by our attentive waitress. Our food came shortly after, steaming and smelling delicious. My Pork Belly Tacos were slightly dry, but flavorful and topped with fresh ingredients. My friend’s Burrito Cochinita Pibil was incredible and stuffed with tender, slow-roasted pork. Although we wanted to finish everything on the table, we had to resign to defeat and leave full to bursting and satisfied with our experience. The whole meal was less than $15, and a great alternative to waiting in line at Chipotle.

Plaza Tolteca:

Our rather large party of 6 was seated at Plaza Tolteca in record time, but it took a while for everyone to get drinks and menus. The service was friendly for the most part, but ridiculously slow considering we were sitting in a nearly empty restaurant. The chips were of the same quality as Plaza Azteca, but were served with a white sauce that tasted kind of like a Mexican Caesar dressing, as well as salsa that was spicier, but not as fresh as the competitor. We also ordered guacamole that arrived in a huge tureen that was chunky and flavorful.  Tolteca’s menu was not as extensive and pricy for a casual Mexican restaurant. Always the deal hunter, I went with a combination plate that gives the diner a choice of two from a variety of options for around $10. The food took its time to arrive, and may or may not have been worth the wait, depending on who you talked to. My burrito was unappetizing; the chicken inside was dry and it was topped with a red sauce that could have been found in an Italian restaurant, but my quesadilla was crispy, tender, and delicious. The table agreed that the rice that was served alongside was the true star of the evening, surprisingly enjoyable. One person got a Coronarita, a huge margarita with a mini bottle of Corona sticking out of the top, that got her very tipsy by the end of the meal, but was more than double the price of Azteca’s margarita. The meal came to be almost $20, which could be justified if the food was worth the wait, the price, and the food poisoning that some of the party got as a bonus.

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