El Azteco

15 03 2009
  • 225 Ann Street
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-9111
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
El Azteco on Ann Street in downtown East Lansing.

El Azteco on Ann Street in downtown East Lansing.

I have no idea why I’ve been craving Mexican lately, but it’s been like an everyday thing.  J’s step-dad headed back to Chicago, but her mom stayed for another day.  We made a run to Howell after breakfast then did some grocery shopping at Horrocks and Walmart.  By the time we got home, we were all starting to get a little hungry.  I sat down in front of the computer and asked what they were in the mood for.  To my surprise, J said Mexican which is what I was thinking.  Instead of going to one of the two places that are close to our apartment, I wanted to go to East Lansing and try one of the most popular restaurants in downtown.

El Azteco is on Ann Street near the Marriot in a that strip of restaurants at the corner of M.A.C. and Ann.  From all the things I’ve read, El Azteco made it’s name at a different location a few blocks that wasn’t nearly as flashy or noticeable as the new building.  While I love atmosphere, restaurants don’t survive without good food.  It was the good food we were really after.

We walked into El Azteco just after 6:00 on a Sunday night.  It was still spring break at MSU, so the clientel was mostly older people and families.  Someone in the kitchen noticed us and told us to take a seat in one of the front dining rooms.  There are actually three dining room areas.  Two of them are are in the front and look out to Ann Street.  The third is off to the left when you walk in and it runs along the kitchen.  We took a booth along the wall.  As you can imagine, the decor has sort of a southwest feel.  The tables are primitive with no frills.  The benches of the booth are all wood with no padding.  They are also pretty close to the table.  They really force good posture.

A waitress came over with water and menus then took drink orders.  I got a Pepsi, J got a Diet Pepsi and J’s mom tried to ordered a strawberry frozen margarita.  El Azteco doesn’t do frozen or flavored margarita’s.  They only do them on the rocks, so that’s what she ended up getting.  After she dropped off the drinks, she asked if we wanted chips and salsa.  Chips and salsa are usually free at Mexican restaurants but not at El Azteco.  The salsa was free, but the chips were $1.50.  There was quite a few in the basket and it took us two cups of the salsa to finish them off.  The chips were good, but they were more like grocery store chips and not so much like home made although I’m sure they were.  The salsa was hot.  Lots of pepper and chunks of jalapeno’s.

El Azteco near Michigan State University in East Lansing.

El Azteco near Michigan State University in East Lansing.

For dinner, I sort of wanted tacos again, but froze up when the waitress came back.  I ordered the beef enchilada.  I ordered it spicy.  The three enchiladas were served on a plate with frijoles and rice.  I don’t know why I keep ordering full dinners.  The enchiladas were good.  It wasn’t too spicy, but had a little kick to it.  The beans were alright, but I really don’t like refried beans on their own.  I tried the rice this time and it was pretty good, but not my thing. 

J ordered the spicy chicken flautus.  The tacquito like entree came topped with cheese and guacamole.  She really liked the guacamole and thought it tasted really fresh.  She broke off a piece for me.  When I just ate the chicken, I loved it.  When I tried it with the guacamole, all I could taste was onions..I don’t like onions so it wasn’t a very good taste to me.  Her meal came with the frijoles and rice as well.  She ate a little, but like me, not a big fan.

J’s mom got a combination plate than included two enchiladas, a beef taco, a tamale, frijoles, and rice.  The taco looked really good.  I should have gotten a couple.  She seemed to really like everything on her plate including the beans and rice.

After we were done eating, the waitress asked if we wanted the sopapilla which came with all of our entrees.  We all said yes, so a few minutes later she brought out the dessert with a squirt bottle of honey.  It was a nice ending to a pretty good meal.

The total for three of us was just under $40 which was kind of surprising considering this is a place that college kids love.  Usually they gravitate towards the cheap food, but El Azteco is a place to get quality Mexican food near campus.  Is it what I was expecting?  Not quite, but it was still pretty good food that I would definitely eat again.

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5 responses

16 03 2009
Misty

They charge for chips?!?!?! That is really weird! I have never heard of a Mexican restaurant doing that. We will stick with Mango’s on Park Lake Rd.

16 03 2009
T-Money

El Azteco has long been a favorite of mine, since my parents first took my into the place during the Art Fair in my adolescent years. The old East Lansing location was in the basement of a building on MAC across from what is now Cosi and it was a scene. From the dim lighting to the crazy cast of characters who worked in the place. It seemed to add to the bohemian style East Lansing had in the late 70’s and 80’s.

The location in Lansing (corner of Saginaw and MLK) does not charge for chips and salsa, only in East Lansing for obvious reasons. Plus you don’t have to contend with meters, surface lots or ramps as they have an ample parking lot.

17 03 2009
Rachel

Like T-money said the only charge for chips in E.L. because of the students. Also you need to go again and order these two things. First the cheese dip, it is not the standard yeallow creamy stuff, it is a ricotta, cottage cheese jalopeno creation that is to die for. Secondly, the Topopo Salad., I would say it is a comination of nachos and salad. Both these Items are staples in Lansing.
I have a Friend who lives in Dallas, TX , she can get Mexican anywhere, but Needs Topopo everytime she comes to town.

17 03 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

ok, the cheese dip sounds delicious. I think we’ll have to go back and try it.

I was really surprised to see a charge for chips…I probably would have gotten them even if I had known, but I guess I just always assume chips are free at Mexican places.

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