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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Greenville (NC) Eats: El Azador

As far as I know, you can't really get more out of the way for a meal in Greenville, NC than El Azador. Located down the street from the airport, it may be the only reason outside of flying for anyone to be across the Tar River on any given day of the week. El Azador is by no means a sexy place to take a date or have a party being located in a relatively old building next to a laundry mat across the street and some warehouses. You may not even know this is a restaurant driving by if you didn't take a hard look at the sign on the side of building. It's almost as if they don't want anyone to know they are there, and for the most part it almost is as if no one does with its mostly Mexican clientale. So why should you give a damn about a place that doesn't seem like it gives a damn about you you ask? Well, because it's damn good of course.

Authentic Mexican cooking is the name of the game here, and El Azador features a few things that definitely sets it apart from its local competitor, Super Mercado El Rancho. Before we talk about all that though, we first must talk tacos. Compared to the competition, I think this is where El Azador falters for me. The portions aren't that generous, and although its nice they provide the appropriate custom sauce to each of their tacos, a few of these bad boys will not leave you filled. The chiccarron (pork skin) taco is half the weight of El Rancho, and doesn't have any real texture or bite to it that makes it stand out. The asada and pollo feel average. I think El Rancho's Moe's-esque bar of condiments is what really puts it over the top for me in the fight between Azador and Rancho, and Azador is definitely lacking there. They make up for it in so many different ways, however, that this lost is something I'm willing to part with.

While their tacos may be tame, specials are certainly their game. Weekends are pretty terrific at El Azador when their soups and whole grilled chicken are available. And they are great. I had the menudo this past week, a mild soup filled to the brim with beef tripe. Okay, that might not sound appealing to a lot of people, but I certainly enjoyed it. It had a little spice, some freshness from the onions and herbs, and a ton of tripe to gnaw through. My only complaint was that I wish there was a little more diversity in the soup, a little beef or something to give it more range. Compared to the pozole I had at El Rancho, however, the broth and dish had a lot more umph to it that I liked.

Other specials I've had at El Azador, particularly the grilled whole or half chicken, are just awesome. Sopas, a kind of corn cake thing piled high with a meat of your choice, beans, lettuce, avocado, herbs, and quesa fresco are savory and fun. Their tamales are flavorful and worth coming back for. If these are not things that sound appealing to you, that needs to change, right now.

No Reservations, The 411 on El Azador
Atmosphere: A bit challenging. It's actually very clean and inviting inside, with a fully translated menu available. There's definitely some confusion for newcomers though when it comes to ordering, so here's basically what you need to know: you go in and order, you wait and either they'll call your food for you to get. If it looks like you are lost though, they'll bring it out to you. Pay after. You may get a few glances from the local crowd,
but do not fear, it'll be okay.
Costs: While there are things that are $1.50-3 a piece, I think $6-8 worth of those are what it takes to fill up. Specials range from $7-11.
Try: The whole chicken for sure.

For tacos, I'm still going to wander into Super Mercado El Rancho any day of the week, but if I'm looking for something bigger, I'm definitely venturing over Tar River and checking out El Azador. It's not the most inviting place at first, but a couple of adventures there and you'll feel at home in no time. Definitely worth the trouble for a taste of the real deal in the Greenville area.

El Azador Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Hey wat up its the managers daughter.thanx 4 tha review

Coolrthanice said...

Formerly Darwin Waters Service Station and beer joint in the 60's and 70's. Great replacement. Television in dining room is Mundo(Nat Geo). Food smells good.. will review later.

Johon King said...

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