Fargo's Plaza Azteca gets back to the basics with a fresh Mexican menu

Plaza Azteca delivers a consistent dining experience with an emphasis on freshness, Forum food critic Eric Daeuber writes after a recent visit to the restaurant.

Plaza Azteca's Texas fajita packs distinct flavors onto a cast iron dish but fans of spice will want to ask their server for more.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

Plaza Azteca can be a busy place on a day like Cinco de Mayo, but my server assured me that it’s like that often. It’s big and it has a bit of an industrial feel to it mostly by design. Any diner serving that many people is going to have a similar feel when it comes to the food, and that atmosphere tends to extend itself beyond the kitchen and the dining room, too.

More places are popping up in Fargo and Moorhead that are one of several locations producing shared experiences for their diners. They aren’t chains, really, but the goal is a consistent, predictable experience. The occasion for going out, the company you keep and the conversations you have make up a larger part of what dining out means at places like this. The food itself recedes a little into the background.

The interior of Plaza Azteca in Fargo offers an industrial feel, food critic Eric Daeuber explains.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

It’s not a surprise, and for many not a disappointment, if there isn’t much special about your dinner. Plaza Azteca bills itself as fresh, authentic and unique.

Authenticity is always an elusive concept, particularly when it comes to culturally significant food that is also wildly popular. When discussing Mexican food, someone is very likely to claim that — somewhere in the mountains of Puebla — you will find the very best enchiladas in the world, and this or that Mexican restaurant in America is the only place that makes them like that.

In the opinion of Forum food critic Eric Daeuber, the beef chimichanga from Plaza Azteca is basic and predictable, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

“Unique” is equally difficult to nail down because there are just too many people to serve and more than one location in which to serve them. Uniqueness just doesn’t apply.


But fresh? Plaza Azteca does this well.

You might notice it first with the chips that come to every table. I imagine they haven’t seen a paper bag because they are crisp, light and, I think, fried on site. Another place where this commitment to freshness can be experienced is with the tableside-created guacamole ($11).

Tortilla chips at Plaza Azteca in Fargo come with two dips, while fresh tableside guacamole is also available for $11. Forum food critic Eric Daeuber suspects the chips "haven’t seen a paper bag" and are fried on site.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

It’s more than a show because guacamole turns dark in both color and flavor very quickly. One doesn’t have to have a palate well-educated in southwestern cuisine to appreciate what fresh out-of-the-skin avocados taste like. This makes a welcome introduction to a kind of flavor that makes its way through the menu.

At Plaza Azteca, guacamole is made tableside for $11. It's just one example of the freshness that is a staple throughout the restaurant's menu, food critic Eric Daeuber writes.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

Another place where freshness really matters is in fajitas, where the flavor depends on very quick cooking and presentation. The Texas fajita includes shrimp along with beef and chicken ($20). The combination of ingredients is colorful and the flavors are distinct. However, it is rather muted in terms of seasonings and, with not much on the table to dress it up, fans of any kind of spice or heat will have to ask for some help from their server.

The colorful Texas fajita at Plaza Azteca consists of onions, peppers, steak, chicken and shrimp. A side dish of rice and refried beans fill out the meal but "don't seem to add much," Forum food critic Eric Daeuber writes.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

This isn’t always easy. The restaurant is heavily staffed, but on a busy day, it seems that most are in motion. Catching someone’s attention can be difficult unless you are the type that can attract notice in a crowd. Plaza Azteca can be noisy, which doesn’t help.

Staples such as burritos are predictably good and, equally predictably, huge. The San Jose Burrito ($18) is pretty basic and includes a nice, bright chorizo which speaks to a commitment to fresh. Just as basic is the chimi dinner ($16). Again, it's predictable rather than unique, like the rice and refried beans that fill out the plate but don’t seem to add much except to do that.

The San Jose burrito from Plaza Azteca is meaty in more ways than one, Forum food critic Eric Daeuber writes. It's large and filled with a "nice, bright chorizo."
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

Desserts are not a big part of any Mexican menu but the fried ice cream is quite a lot of fun and, at $7 in a world of $6 shot glass-sized puddings, is worth the investment and makes for a fun ending to your meal.

Fried ice cream is an enjoyable and, at $7, affordable way to cap a meal at Plaza Azteca in Fargo.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

There is no shortage Mexican options in Fargo and Moorhead and fans of Mexican cuisine will have a lot to talk about when comparing new additions to the market. As summer gears up, the patios are inviting and the food at Plaza Azteca matches that all-to-brief window of time in which we can share the southern sunshine.


Warmer weather beckons outdoor diners, like those seen here at Plaza Azteca in Fargo.
Contributed / Eric Daeuber

Restaurant profile

What: Plaza Azteca
Cuisine: Mexican
Where: 5505 28th Ave. S. and 5081 Charles Way S., Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Phone: 701- 212-1996
Reservations: Call ahead about seating options
Alcohol: Full bar

Ratings (out of 4)

Food: 2.5 stars
Service: 2 stars
Ambiance: 2.5 stars

Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at

Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at
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