Sol Azteca Needs to Grow On Potential

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MQT’s latest culinary experience is Sol Azteca, located at 105 E Washington Street, directly above L’Attitudes. The location is great, with available parking, a wonderful view of the Lower Harbor and a great setting for an authentic Mexican dining experience with a MQT spin. Unfortunately for Sol Azteca and for myself, the experience was not good.
The evening got off poorly when what we were told would be a 15-20 minute wait turned into a 55-minute bore. It was a confusing wait as many guests were going down to the L’Attitudes bar since Sol Azteca is still waiting on their liquor license. Customers had difficulties identifying the quiet host, who was considerably under dressed in a UP tshirt and leggings, while the rest of the wait staff was in black shirts, dress pants and ties.After seating, we were greeted by a friendly waitress who took our drink orders and returned quickly given the large amount of people. When she returned with drinks and complimentary chips and salsa, we put in our order. The homemade salsa was not prepared well, with a gross overabundance of cilantro on top and all the spices on the bottom. There was so much cilantro in the first bite, I felt like my mouth was flogged with the actual plant. The saving quality of the salsa was that after mixed, the consistency and flavors were considerably improved. Give it a good mix before you try it and it is one of the better salsas in town.Our appetizer, an order of buffalo wings, was the worst part of the meal. I consider MQT to be a buffalo wing town, so I wanted to try this latest addition to a competitive gauntlet of wings. They came roughly a half hour after we ordered them, but were presented well, with a side of buffalo sauce and ranch. While the smaller wings were cooked properly and tasted good, the largest wing pieces were still frozen near the bone. Sol Azteca comped the appetizer before giving us the check without being asked and took responsibility for the mistake.

For a server to do that without us directly asking for one showed great customer service skills and took the fall for a coworker’s mistake. Whether at our table or watching other wait staff with nearby tables, I was really impressed with Sol Azteca. They knew the menu, knew the prices and showed considerable vigor when waiting on customers. It was the best part of our night.

Our entrees were the Taquitos Mexicanos and the Special Dinner – a combination platter of a tostada, chile relleno, beef taco, enchilada, tamal and sides of rice and beans. My guest’s taquitos were overcooked, burning the ends of the fried rolled dish. Buried under lettuce, sour cream and tomato, my tostada took a while to find since it looked like the accompanying sides for the Taquitos Mexicanos dish. The enchilada, tamal and taco were good, but the lack of spices left a more subdued and therefore bland meal for traditional Mexican cuisine.

However, the chile rellenos was probably one of the best I have ever tasted. The blackened-poblano pepper dish from the Puebla region of Mexico had a complex flavor that worked with the breading and sauce. It was easily the greatest part of the meal and a staple for Sol Azteca.

Due to the long wait time before and after seating, we were not able to sample one of the four dessert offerings. Sol Azteca has flan, fried ice cream, sopapillas (a fried tortilla with honey butter and cinnamon) and xango (a deep fried cheesecake).

One thing going for the restaurant is the price. The Special Dinner is tied for the fourth-most expensive meal at 14.99. After the comped wings, a large meal with leftovers for two with tip was $35. This will probably change as alcohol is added to the menu, but the location, a large menu and great serving sizes makes this a quantitative value.

MQT Social Scene rating:  The location and wait staff were good, but the food’s potential can’t save the restaurant from back-of-the-house mistakes. MQT Social Scene will return in a couple months to see the eminent improvement, but Sol Azteca is off to a rough start. 2/5

Brice Burge is the Managing Editor of MQTSocialScene.com. He can be reached at briceMQT@gmail.com.

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