This Saturday evening, I went along with my family to the local restaurant Azteca as a last hurrah for spring break. Of all the choices for Mexican-American cuisine in Sioux Falls, this place is probably my favorite. It isn’t as cheap as, say, Taco Johns, but if you’re looking for a more traditional sit-down feel with great food and a polite, friendly staff, Azteca certainly offers that.
My party arrived right at 5:45 p.m. for dinner. There were probably five other families eating when we showed up. We were seated immediately upon entering, but, from previous experience, it may be a 30-plus minute wait on busier evenings. The restaurant itself was tastefully decorated and well-kept. As with most sit-down Mexican places, the Azteca staff gives you a basket of slightly warm tortilla chips and salsa to whet your appetite. The two more cultured members of my party both ordered margaritas,. Another went for a lemonade, and I settled for an Arnold Palmer.
The food selection at Azteca has your traditional Mexican-American choices. Their cheapest selections, various taco salads, run an average of $7.50, while the dinners (of which there are scads of choices) have an average $12.50 price tag. Almost every dish comes with your classic refried beans (most likely canned), coleslaw and Mexican rice. On a college budget, Azteca unfortunately runs a bit high. I decided to order from their a la carte section and snag a ground beef chimichanga. Besides beef, you can order pork, chicken, picadillo (which is ground beef and a tomato sauce) or just cheese as filling for your dinner. The other dishes we ordered were the pork verde (pork served with a mildly spicy green chili sauce and cooked to a delicate texture), beef fajitas and a beef tamale.
After waiting for a good 20 minutes, during which our waiter and several other staff members stopped by to check in on us and chat a bit, our food came. My chimichanga, which was supposed to be deep fried in order to achieve a nice crispy exterior and tender filling of beef and cheese, was a bit on the under-fried side. Regardless, it still tasted fantastic.
The pork verde was well-seasoned and tender, and the dish certainly contained enough food for a good-sized leftover lunch. As fajitas go, ours were served with an almost obscene amount of grilled onions and peppers on flour tortillas. And for our light eater, the beef tamale was flavorful and served without the traditional corn husk.
For dessert, we split an apple chimichanga four ways. This was probably the least inspired dish we had: just a simple apple filling inside a deep fried tortilla topped with vanilla and strawberry ice cream. Satisfying, but not terribly exciting.
Our final bill was just over $70 for four people, but the total drops down to a mere $60 if you knock off the alcoholic beverages. However, everyone felt as though we had our money’s worth with the experience, and each of us had some leftovers to take home for later. Azteca is a good atmosphere for your relaxed evening meal. Just make sure you come hungry.
Azteca is located at 811 S. Minnesota Ave. and operates from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.