Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sol Azteca

[Note: about ten percent of the visitors to my site get here by searching on "Sol Azteca." You should know that I have eaten at the restaurant another five times since I wrote the post below and that I did not praise it loudly enough at first. It is a terrific restaurant. The pork dish that I talk about below is still my favorite, but the roast half-duck is also very good. There is still much that I haven't tried on the menu, but the restaurant is definitely worth a visit. The servers are also extremely attentive.]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you want good ethnic food in the DC metropolitan area, you must head for the suburbs. Thus, after my culinarily unilluminating experience of Wednesday night, when V. said Friday evening that he wasn't sure about his strategy of preparing for Addis Ababa by eating Ethiopian food and asked me to suggest a restaurant, I said that we should head for Sol Azteca in beautiful downtown Olney. Olney is about as suburban as you can get: think Stepford as populated by government employees (i.e., not as rich, but nearly as uniform), and you've got Olney. But there are a few good places to eat, including a well-regarded Belgian restaurant, a Salvadorean (I have always written "Salvadoran" in the past, but the restaurant sign itself proclaims "Salvadorean" for all to see) restaurant that serves very good food (but that has an uninspired but VERY LOUD live band playing on the weekends, alas), and Sol Azteca.

I can't really say for sure that Sol Azteca is a kick-ass Mexican restaurant because I haven't ordered that much of their menu. They're relatively new, and the first time I ate there, I thought that the pork cooked in a Seville orange sauce sounded pretty good, and I was right, and I tend to suggest that we go there when I'm in the mood to eat that particular dish. Still, the service is friendly and very attentive, and the Corona drafts are only $2.50, so it's tough to go wrong. The pork dish is called something like "morsels of pork" but translated into Spanish. In the unlikely event that you're ever there, it's the first dish in the "oven dishes" (my spotty memory is forcing me to paraphrase here). V. ordered the pollo saltado from the same section of the menu, and he reported that it was very good. He found it a tiny bit spicier than he would have liked, but he has never been a huge fan of spicy foods. I tried a bite of the chicken (I would have tried more, but I really didn't want to give him any of my pork; I am a bad man), and it seemed yummy and only moderately spicy to me.

The bitter orange sauce that the pork is cooked in is (in addition to not being bitter) so good that when you've finished with the pork, the only sensible thing to do is to spoon all of the rice that's sitting on your plate into the small gratin dish that the pork comes in so as not to miss any. I had considered ordering some fried plantains as an appetizer, after my fried banana disappointment from Wednesday, but I reasoned that I was already going to be getting a lot of food, what with the frequent chip refills and all, so I didn't, but fortunately, there were some fried plantains on my plate along with the pork and the rice and the small bowl of good black beans. The plantains were absolutely phenomenal. I have no idea how they make them so well, but it seemed that they may have been dusted with some sweet spices. I must experiment. I must find out. Otherwise, I will end up getting in the car several times a week and driving by Sol Azteca and gazing longingly. Of course, an appetizer order is only $2.95, so I could just buy some more, I reckon.


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