I normally don’t review chain restaurants, but Azteca is an exception. It’s one of a string of new eateries that are popping up all over Orlando. The restaurant is located in the old Uno’s building on University Boulevard near the University of Central Florida. According to one of the servers, Azteca is a family owned restaurant. As the story goes, Pepe Ramos moved to Seattle from Cuautla, Mexico, in 1974 to open a restaurant using his mother’s secret recipes (Mama Camerina). He later sent for his wife and three brothers who helped establish Azteca. The restaurant has a full service bar and happy hour, and it’s adorned in brilliant Aztec patterns and colors. Azteca has a number of locations in Washington, one or two in Oregon, and five locations in Florida. The staff is warm and friendly, and service is generally excellent.
The restaurant offers a number of specialties, including lamb shank, and seafood dishes such as coctel de camarones—a combination of shrimp, pico de gallo, and freshly diced avocados; mojo de ajo—shrimp or scallops and mushrooms sautéed in a spicy sauce; shrimp fajitas; and, seafood molocjete™—a Mexican stew made with shrimp, scallops, and whitefish. As expected, Azteca offers the normal fare common to Mexican eateries: tacos, fajitas, burritos, rellenos, enchiladas, mole, soups, salads, combination dishes, and of course, fried ice cream and sopapillas. The menu is diverse, and offers something for everyone.
I’ve enjoyed both lunch and dinner at Azteca. One of my favorite dishes is the chile verde—tender, bite size chunks of pork simmered in a tomatillo sauce. The chile rellenos are fabulous, and so are the carne dishes and the enchiladas. Try the Ramos Rita (my favorite), and save room for the sopapillas (another personal favorite). Whatever the secrets are in Mama Camerina’s secret recipes, they have earned Azteca numerous awards and a following of devoted patrons. Give Azteca a try; they will keep you coming back for more.