I really love Mexican food, I really do, but this is not food that State College is known for. Having just come back from a trip to Southern California where there is real, authentic and delicious Mexican food – seemingly offered on every block, the State College three selections of; Mad Mex, Rey Azteca and Plaza Mexican don’t seem to really stack up. It is after all, Central Pennsylvania so I do understand what we are up against.
I’m really hoping that our visits to Mad Mex and Rey Azteca deliver – because sitting #3 out of 3 on our list of “best “Mexican” restaurants in State College” has got to be Plaza Mexican.
We went on a busy, cold and snowy Saturday evening – luckily we beat the rush because that place was busy with a lot of people waiting as we left. I’m not sure when they opened, I remember going here when it was Ruby Tuesday during the late 90’s. I was also surprised to find out that its part of a chain – the name on the web site is Plaza Azteca, so I’m not sure why the State College location is Plaza Mexican – (maybe they just haven’t changed the signage out front?).
The menu and food are basically what you would find at any East Coast Mexican restaurant chain. Nothing special. Nothing you haven’t seen before. The formula for most chain Mexican restaurants is this; huge plate with a sea of beans, a cup of rice (usually served in some fiesta funcolor!) and your order – doesn’t matter what it is, it’s all the same in the kitchen just wrapped up in a different form factor; hard shell, soft shell…. and topped with a sauce of some sort. This place was no different. Obviously presentation is not a high priority here – I mean just look at those photos (and we really tried to take flattening photos and it just wasn’t meant to be.) My enchilada combo photo doesn’t look half bad…too bad the cheese wasn’t even melted inside of the cheese one…..
The best thing we ordered were our drinks. I got the house margarita, my husband the mojito. The downside however, they don’t list the drink prices in their menu – which is beyond annoying. I know why they do it, its to sell drinks and surprise everyone with the cost at the end because they know that most people feel uncomfortable asking the price for every drink. I’m not a fan of restaurants putting their patrons into uncomfortable or confusing situations – just put the prices on the menu. It might even be required by law.
Maybe we caught it on an off night, our friends have raved about this place. Once we get through the other 200 places on our list maybe we’ll circle back.
As you can probably tell, this is not on our list of favorites. Right now its ranked #3 on our list of Mexican restaurants in the area, so lets hope our upcoming visits to Rey Azteca and Mad Mex put them higher on that list. Until then, I’ll just have to reminisce about the awesome burrito I had in California last week…..