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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


El Azteca: OK, But Not Appleton's Best Mexican Food

I took some family members to one of Appleton's two El Azteca restaurants. I've avoided it for quite a while, but I finally went after hearing several endorsements, including praise from a friend of mine from Mexico. Service was excellent and the staff was very friendly and helpful, the place was clean and attractive, and the chips and salsa were excellent, with both red salsa and a good bean dip. But apart from the chips and salsa, the food was average at best. The prices were lower than average, and it seemed that numerous cost cutting steps had been taken to keep the price down. Instead of the standard rice and refried beans, the beans on my plate had been replaced with a handful of pale yellowish lettuce. The mole sauce on my chicken enchiladas was a thin, dry coating instead of the rich layer of sauce that a mole dish should have. (Mole, of course, refers to a wonderful class of sauces originating in Oaxaca, Mexico, often made from ground, roasted seeds and, in the case of black mole, some chocolate.)

My boys like the red sauce on their enchiladas, but the other adults in the group were not impressed with their burritos or chimichanga.

Sorry, El Azteca. Nice place, but I think they'd be better off raising prices a little to afford an extra dash of quality.
Yeah, we went to El Az once. I thought it was "okay". For what I got, I guess I expected a lower price.

So what is the best Mexican food in the Appleton area? We've been to all we can find, but none of them quite compare to what we were used to when we lived in Eau Claire. I did go to

El Maya in De Pere for the first time today. I thought it was very good (and they have that white cheese dip I love!). The price was reasonable too. Oddly enough, I believe it's owned by the El Azteca folks. I also thought Margaritas in Green Bay was decent too (although I didn't care for the one in Appleton as much).

It seems like there is no end to the authentic Mexican restaurants on the East side of Green Bay where I work (not surprising, considering the large Hispanic population in that area).

At least we have A Taste of Thai. That's one of our favorite restaurants, and we live pretty close to it.
I actually absolutely LOVE el azteca! It surprises me that you didn't find it as appetizing. However if you ever go again make sure to try the Potato Burritos. Hope next time it's better! :)
I realize this entry is dated... have you been back to El Azteca?
We went last evening... It was later, we didn't want to drive more than five minutes, and having just returned to WI after many years, didn't know where to go. (I've been checking your restaurant reviews before going out to eat. heh Most are accurate!)

I agree with most of your review. Chips, salsa, bean dip, service, atmosphere... terrific! I will add that the beef fajitas were some of the best I've had. We did get rice & beans - but, that yellow lettuce was there, too. heh I don't eat yellow lettuce at home. Why would I have to pay for it at a restaurant?

The chimichanga that my dining pal had was very small compared to other restaurants we've been to - but unfortunately, the same price. Oh yeah... the guacamole also had lettuce in it? What's with that? Filler? Or just a messy kitchen?

Someone sitting near us got a mountain of food. Not sure if it was the nachos or what - and didn't want to interrupt and ask, but it looked good.

We'll probably be back there, since it's close, but we might just stick to the fajitas.
We love everything about El Azteca and the food is great. It kills all the Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee including South Milwaukee. We have tried multiple entrees-loved them all! The Fajitas and Chimichanga were the best entrees. The rice and beans were also much better than any of the restaurants. The salsa, white cheese dip, and drinks are our favorites. Even though we moved from Appleton to Milwaukee, we will drive to Appleton just to eat at El Azteca!!! Wish we had a location closer to us!!!
El Azteca is the best Mexican food in town. The service is great and they are SO friendly. I love the atmosphere, too. Very Diego Riviera!
I am from Texas and lived in San Miquel de Allende, Mexico for 3 months, so I like to think I know my Mexi-food.
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