Saturday, March 20, 2010

Plaza Azteca

 Plaza Azteca Mexican Restaurant
5125 Monroe Street, Toledo, OH 43623
Hours 11a - 10p Sun through Thurs; 11a - 11p Fri & Sat
(419) 841-9250

I've been meaning to try the Plaza Azteca restaurant on Monroe Street for several weeks, and I finally got around to it today.  In short, I'm not all that impressed.  The place is over-staffed, which is rare in the restaurant business (generally speaking, being over-staffed means that the manager screwed up the schedule) but in this case it means that one person seated me, another person took my order, a third person served my order and a fourth person finished serving me - he took over for a waitress that left or was no longer available.  The only trouble with this arrangement is that the wait staff is very unlikely to know what the kitchen is doing, and my visit was no exception.

My order started out with complementary taco chips and two kinds of dip, white and red.  I have no idea what the white dip is about; it tasted a little like a combination of tarter sauce, mayonnaise and El Gringo's Authentic Mexican Spices! (the last ingredient is called poetic license, but go ahead and try to find it anyway).  The red dip is standard salsa, very mild.

I ordered the Burrito San Jose, a burrito that was supposed to come with chicken, chorizo sausage, refried beans and rice.  My burrito arrived on a large square bright white tray plate, and it just fit the diagonal.  I noted that the beans and rice were conspicuous by their absence.  My waitress didn't serve my food, and the server left as soon as the tray plate hit the table.  Naturally my waitress was not to be seen (service: strike one!).  Being hungry, I started eating anyway and found the burrito was good.  The sauce was spicy if a little on the rich side.  So, when my mouth was full and I couldn't talk, my waitress comes by and asks if I need anything (service: strike two!).  With some difficulty I explain the lack of beans and rice, and my server vanishes to find out what's going on.  The server reappears in a few minutes and explains that the beans and rice are to be found within the burrito.  This isn't what I expected, but so what - I'm hungry and I'll eat it anyway.  My server vanishes.  About halfway through my burrito I conclude that the beans and rice are not appearing in this feature.  I'm not too happy about this, but my server isn't around.  I continue to eat, and again while my mouth is full (service: strike three!) my server comes by with another server and explains that I'm changing hands.

By the time I could explain the absence of beans and rice to my new server, the burrito was history.  My only concern here was that I was charged, and subsequently paid for two items I didn't receive.  The manager, who never appeared at my table, offered a side dish of beans and rice which I declined.  I wasn't hungry and I really didn't care.

The atmosphere at the Plaza Azteca is that of a family style restaurant, and the portions and prices live up to those expectations.  The place is noisy and Mexican elevator music plays in the background.  I didn't sample the margaritas, reasoning that any bar featuring a dozen different kinds of margarita and a half dozen different varieties of a martini is not going to have anything that I want to drink.  If you don't believe me, find a place like this and try ordering a dry martini straight up, then watch as the waitress's eyes glaze over.

Kevin Moore over at the Toledo City Paper wrote an infomercial on the Plaza Azteca, Spicin' Things Up in the Mexican Scene,  which makes the place out to be something it isn't.  I include the link mainly because I like reading the City Paper and Kevin writes pretty well.

The thing about Plaza Azteca is that it's located right next door to Shorty's, which has some of the best barbecue available in the Toledo area along with equally good service and an outdoor patio.  So whatever I have at the Plaza, it's going to have to beat Shorty's - and that isn't happening today.  Tomorrow isn't looking good either.

On my own personal scale of restaurant excellence, I would give Plaza Azteca a very shaky 5 on a scale of zero to 10.  The place is headed to four or less, but who knows?  Maybe I'm being overly critical, maybe the kitchen will get their act together, maybe the service will improve.  Maybe not.  I'll probably eat there again, but not right away.


Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


Thanks for the "heads up" on this place. I'll continue feeding my Mexican food cravings elsewhere where I know what to expect.

When I run into a place like this I also put them on my watch list, returning for a second try only if the manage to stay in business for a good long time, say 10 or 20 years...

There's no need to risk another visit in Toledo when we are blessed with hot ans cold running restaurants in such abundance.

Mad Jack said...

I may try it again for the sake of fairness, but perhaps not. It isn't likely to change, and I don't crave Mexican food all that often. If I do, there's always Taco Bell... Ha!Ha!Ha!

What do you like by way of Mexican Restaurants?

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


El Salto, Mi Hacienda and El Tipico are my favorites.

Interestingly, I've never tried Taco Bell, so I can offer no opinion on its "food."

KevMooreWrites said...

Hey Jack,

Just wanted to say thanks for complimenting my writing :) Nice blog btw. I like the reviews.