Azul 17

A guest post contributed from my dining partner, my wife.
Tonight we had our first visit to Azul 17 on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia.  We had a hankering for some sort of ethnic food and nearly sealed the deal with one of our favorites, House of India.  However, we made a last minute decision to try this relatively new eatery.  We both love Mexican food – one of our old favs is El Salto in Brooklyn.  We both had high hopes to have found an "authentic" (thanks, Kevin & Ann) Mexican restaurant near the homestead. Azul 17 Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Lounge on Urbanspoon
The decor is very bright white, minimalist, and modern.  The main dining room was mostly empty, so we sat at the bar.  The bar stools were wobbly with VERY low backs, and not very comfortable.  Large, high-quality TVs were mounted near the bar playing a slideshow of artistic agave pictures and food.  Party-boy music played loudly.  It wasn’t quite our style, yet we were still hopeful our food would be worth the trip.
There were many Mexican beers available by the bottle, and many, many tequila options (it IS a tequileria, after all).  With only 4 draught options, I liked the choices – Dos Equis, Negra Modelo, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.  I started with a glass of (properly carbonated) Stella and Ben had a traditional margarita.  Ben’s margarita was a winner, so I had one also.  Delicious.

The bartender brought us chips and salsa.  The salsa was great; full of fresh flavor.  The chips seemed a little stale, but that did not stop us from nearly emptying the basket, thanks to the salsa.  We proceeded to order 2 Platos Pequeños (small plates): Tuna Azul and Chile Relleno de Queso.  In addition I ordered 3 tacos, De Alambre (grilled steak with onions), Tacos de Salmon (you guessed it), and Chorizo Picante (spicy pork chorizo).  Ben ordered the Enchiladas de Pollo (chicken enchiladas).  I had expected our small plates to come first, followed by the tacos & enchiladas.  However, food just came out as it was ready with no thought to the order.  In the end, Ben stared at me while I ate my tacos and I stared at Ben while he ate his enchiladas.  Oh well, this place isn’t exactly fine dining.  It’s just a little disappointing how often this happens.

The tacos were the star of my meal, with my clear favorite being the salmon.  It was cooked well, light, with nice heat balanced with sweetness, and full of flavor.  The other 2 tacos were good, but not spectacular.  If I were to return, I’d likely get 3-4 of the salmon tacos, or try something new.  If you order the chorizo tacos, you should know that it is quite greasy; a puddle formed on the bar while I ate the other tacos.

The Tuna Azul was a good quality, nicely prepared piece of tuna, seared to medium rare with a flavorful crust.  The tomato/onion/arugala/jicama salad was bland and after a couple of bites, it remained on my plate.  The tuna itself would have been very enjoyable, had it not been for the overly sweet cranberry drizzle.  It was so sweet that I did my best to scrape it off.  I’m not sure what they were going for here, but they’d be smart to skip the drizzle, or devise a better match for the tuna.

Once the Chile Relleno arrived, Ben found the dish enjoyable, but understated.  The chili pepper was cooked nicely, stuffed with a little cheese, and served in a tomato based sauce.   All the flavors were nice but the dish was not memorable.

The Enchiladas de Pollo arrived after I finished my food, so Ben offered me a bite.  The quality of the shredded chicken was good and the sauce was pleasant, but it left me thinking of tomato soup.  Where was the bite?  The rich flavor?  I’m all for fresh and light, I felt the the dish was so light that it was lacking flavor and excitement. There was a very light crumble of white "queso fresco" on top.  Perhaps I’m not accustomed to "authentic Mexican" food, but I missed some melty, cheesy goodness. 

Looking back at the entire meal, it was all good, but unfortunately not GREAT.  Howard County is home to so many fantastic restaurants, it’s not likely that I’d return this this one.  If I’m craving Mexican or Tex-Mex, I’ll head over to Frisco’s for a yummy fajita sandwich or some mahi tacos.  Oh, and El Salto still rules.  More reviews here.

One thought on “Azul 17

  1. Milhouse44

    Great write up. I have not made it to Blue17 yet and may stay clear. Everytime I get the craving for ‘Mexican Food’ I hit a taco truck or the Shell Station in Jessup for some Tacos de Lengua and Al Pastor, which my wife will not eat. When we are together she is only going to El Azteca in Clarksville. If you guys get a chance check them out I’d be interested to see how you think they stack up against El Salto.

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