180 Common Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
--- Winner, Best Mexican Restaurant in Boston Area, 2007 ---
It is a shame that more people don't travel to the city of Lawrence to sample some of their many great restaurants. Such places as Tacos Lupita, Salvatore's, and Tripoli Bakery are just a few spots that are certainly worth the 35-minute drive from downtown Boston. And perhaps the best of all of the restaurants in Lawrence--Cafe Azteca--is not only the best Mexican restaurant in the Merrimack Valley, but also one of the best in the entire Boston area and the rest of Eastern Massachusetts.
Cafe Azteca, which is located in the center of Lawrence (across from the common), does not look like much from the outside; indeed, it looks like a tiny takeout joint with perhaps one small room inside. But this is deceiving, as Cafe Azteca actually has three rooms, with a particularly striking dining room way in the back, complete with colorful wall murals that add a feel of authenticity to this restaurant.
Cafe Azteca's food is certainly authentic, as well; in addition to the more familiar burritos, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, chimichangas (most of which have soft flour tortilla wraps that are not fried), and quesadillas (the latter of which are completely different from the more pedestrian ones you find on pub menus, by the way), you will also find some more exotic dishes such as the mouthwatering sauteed chicken plate with spicy brown sauce and cactus strips. If you like mole, both the mole poblano and the chicken enchiladas mole include an excellent version of this dark sauce, with a bit of heat and a wonderful chocolate taste (and the chicken enchiladas mole includes both white and dark meat, which is not always the case at other Mexican restaurants). Other interesting items on the menu at Cafe Azteca include sliced pork in a spicy guajillo salsa, dark chicken meat on rice with mole salsa, and sauteed shrimp and steak in an ultra-hot habanero salsa with cactus strips.
Cafe Azteca is open for lunch and dinner, with prices for lunch entrees being a bit cheaper than dinner prices, but even the dinner prices are reasonable, with most items being around $10. With those kinds of prices, and the quality of the food they serve at Cafe Azteca, there is no reason not to drive up to Lawrence to try this amazing restaurant. It is just one more reason to come to Lawrence, which is becoming a mini-mecca for great dining spots.
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