Greeted at the door with a friendly smile and hearty handshake, you a feel as if you are being welcomed into a good friend’s home! With vibrant and bold colors, and a bar that replicates an authentic Mexican cantina, walking into Azteca feels like walking into a Mexican fiesta!
What to Wear
You’ll be perfectly comfortable in jeans at Azteca but, guys, please don’t confuse casual with dowdy! This is a date after all! Jeans are okay but balance them with a crisp dress shirt and, please, no sneakers! Take into account where your date is coming from and be sure to dress to complement her attire.
What to Order
The food is incredible and the menu showcases Mario’s Latin heritage offering a variety of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex options! Buck and I wanted to order EVERYTHING! James pulled up a chair and walked us through our options and, before we could say a word, Mario had Ceviche Mixto (shrimp, filet of flounder, marinated in lemon juice, spices & cilantro, served with avocado) on the table and ice-cold margaritas in our hands!
Mario explained that authentic Tex-Mex dishes often center on combination plates with multiple options on one platter, so we decided to be adventurous and ordered the Plato Picadera Especial! And especial it is, consisting of Codorniz (Quail), Mexican Sausage, Beef, Chicken, Ribs, Shrimp, Yuca, Pico de Gallo and onions (although, I suggest substituting the onions with another vegetable of your choice.) Have you ever had quail? Neither had I and now I wonder why I waited so long! An ample serving, there will be plenty to share and eating off the same plate will create an immediate level of familiarity that will help set the tone for the rest of the evening!
What to Drink
As any good party host would do, Mario kept the beverages coming and we eventually had to decline another margarita, recognizing that one of us would have to drive home! We suggest that your date have the Azteca Sunrise, the restaurant’s Signature Drink. It’s pinkish red, fruity and fun to just look at! Men, you have a wide selection of quality, Mexican, beers to choose from, but if you’re feeling adventurous as well, order the “Bluebird.” They won’t tell you what is in the drink but it’s tasty!
Where to Sit
When you make your reservation, ask for one of the tables by the window. You’ll be far enough away from the bar that you can start your evening in a quieter location , but you’ll still be able to view the activity throughout the entire restaurant.
Where to Go After
Like any good celebration, the party at Azteca can last well into the night! After dinner, head over to the bar and enjoy a delicious dessert and coffee cocktail. Azteca’s bar replicates the feeling of an authentic, Mexican, cantina. Grab one of the back, left, tables for two. You’ll be close and comfortable under soft, dim lighting. We highly suggest ordering a few of the restaurant’s gelatos to sample and share (chocolate, mango, rum raisin, chocolate with jalapeno, Mexican vanilla, papaya or cinnamon)!
My night at Azteca was enjoyable! From the moment you step through the door you feel as if you are being welcomed into someone’s home! The staff’s focus is on ensuring that you have a great night—and with good food and drinks flowing freely—you will! Be sure to follow our secret tip #2 to experience Mario’s personalized, and most delightful, cocktails!
Where is It?
9505 Baltimore Avenue
College Park, Maryland 20740
Hours: Daily, 11am-11pm
There is hidden, free, parking in the back (if you aren’t able to pull into one of the spaces located immediately in front of the restaurant).
Secret Tip #1: If your date loves Paella, call ahead and order The Paella Marinera for Two (consisting of lobster, shrimp, fish, mussels, scallops, calamari & clams, simmered in saffron rice with green peas & sweet pimentos.) This dish has a cooking time of 40 minutes and the chef will work with you to ensure that the timing of its completion fits perfectly with your arrival.
Secret Tip #2: Call ahead and speak to co-owner, Mario Orellana. Let him know that you heard about Azteca through Rita’s Date Guide and he’ll be sure to personally greet you at the door! Ask him to recommend a beverage and he’ll disappear behind the bar to whip up an ice-cold concoction for you both. He’ll see to it that by the end of the night you know the entire staff! You’ll leave Azteca feeling not only that you’ve had a great night, but that you’ve also made good friends! It’s a party you don’t want to miss!
Pocket Guide to a Date at Azteca
Expect to spend: $50 – $90
Best tables: By the front window
Best evening: Thursday (less crowded)
Order: Plato Picadera Especial or call ahead for the Paella Marinera for Two
Drinks: Azteca Sunrise (for her) and Bluebird (for him). Both should enjoy Azteca’s delicious margaritas!
After dinner: Dessert and a cocktail coffee in the cantina
Where to make your move: Cozy up next to her in a corner table of the cantina
My night at Azteca was a true fiesta! You’ll have a great time on this date, boys! I’d love to hear all about yours, so drop me a line and tell me your stories!
Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Azteca Restaurant & Cantina!
We’d love to hear what you have to say! Post a comment to this blog no later than Sunday, March 11, 2012 and you’ll be entered to win a $50.00 gift certificate to Azteca! The winner will be randomly selected and announced in the next “Rita’s Date Guide for Guys” post on March 13th!
Here is a topic to get you started…what is more important when choosing a first date location? The atmosphere or the quality of the food?
**Pursuant to “what’s right” as well as what the FTC thinks is right *wink*, I’d like to disclose the following: Azteca Restaurant & Cantina graciously donated the date for Buck and me, as well as the $50 gift certificate that was raffled, in order for us to be able to truly bring you the best way to navigate a date at this location!