Margaritas as big as your head

Andy Frakes

The most authentic south-of-the-border dining experience in Marquette also has one of the best table views.

Sol Azteca, a relatively new establishment in the local food scene, sits atop another well-situated but now-defunct eating spot: L’Attitude. Located at the terminal end of Washington where it meets Lakeshore Drive, the building overlooks Mattson Park and the expanse of the lower harbor.re-sol azteca logo-crop-u1247

But the view isn’t the best reason to head for Sol Azteca; it’s all about the food.

The restaurant held its own for over a year without a liquor license, which as a standalone fact speaks volumes about the food quality.

Now that they serve a healthy selection of beers and cocktails, however, the place is almost always hopping on the weekends. Domestic offerings—the typical stuff—are complemented nicely by imports you would expect, such as Modelo, Dos Equis and Corona. The bartenders are also capable of putting out great margaritas, some of which are bigger than your head.

For my own dinner, I couldn’t see myself eating more than a chicken quesadilla. I should’ve gone with more of an appetite, I reflected as I sat down; everything looked delicious.

But, at $9.99, a chicken quesadilla still proved to be too much food; two large flour tortillas folded in half and stuffed with mozzarella cheese and shredded chicken breast proved a hefty serving.

I thoroughly enjoyed the quesadillas, and my compatriot inhaled his enchiladas with no complaints.

Every meal is precluded by warm tortilla chips and a dish of salsa, and if any drink heavier than Coca-Cola is involved, there’s little to no chance of leaving the table hungry.

It’s tempting as hell to fill up on chips and salsa alone; I can also heartily vouch for the guacamole, which is well-worth the few extra dollars per bowl.

The food is unmistakably, authentically Mexican. While it’s a tenet of this reviewer that authenticity isn’t worth anything if quality is compromised, the quality of the food is worth every penny of the meal cost. A meal here tends to average out at $10 per person, plus drinks, for dinner.

The sheer selection of the food is also impressive; a multi-page menu offers alternatives for most dishes in chicken, steak and shrimp, as well as smaller or larger portion sizes available for most of their entrées.

I’ve been to Border Grill many times, since it’s in walking distance of my house and it’s also pretty affordable to walk away full. Compared to Sol Azteca, though, I would almost call it steril.

Because Sol Azteca is a one-of-a-kind location and independently-run, I think they’re able to take liberties and make offerings that a place like Border Grill might not even consider. Both restaurants are simply striving toward different goals in terms of eating experience, as well; Border Grill almost lacks atmosphere altogether, with its loft-like post-industrial feel (think Chipotle) while Sol Azteca sticks with an old-world vibe that I, for one, appreciate.

All in all, I would put Sol Azteca on my short list of places to eat in Marquette. I’ve rarely had such good Mexican food (let alone this far north) and the atmosphere, in addition to the spectacular view and the price point, should satisfy everyone from underclassman schlocks to the genteel skier crowd.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, staying open until 10 p.m. for Friday and Saturday, and the complete menu can be found at http://www.solaztecamqt.net/.