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Happy Hour Scene: Azteca's

The Place: Azteca's Bar and Grill 2207 Richmond 713-526-1702

The Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays The Deals: $3 wells, $2.50 domestics, $3 imports, $3 house margaritas, $4 house flavored margaritas

The Scene: The day after a date it's a little strange but not such a bad thing to have your dining companion text you, "I laid in bed thinking about dinner."

Unless the thoughts are troubling ones about how terrible some alleged meat was. I'm glad I'm not trying to sleep with this one. The quesadilla at Azteca was enough to kill Catherine the Great's sex drive, at least for a couple days.

Azteca's does not feature happy hour food deals, but when what's offered to soak up all that discounted booze is so abjectly awful, it merits mentioning here.

I had a chicken taco that was technically food and a burrito that did not seem to be rolled by human hands. It had the uniform, tightly sealed bottom fold and the brownish tortilla of a store-bought one. The upside was the kitchen heated it in an oven instead of microwaving it, so it was better than I would have done at home, although I would have gone with a higher-quality product to start with. The meat tasted like salty grease.

There isn't a word to describe the beef in the quesadilla my friend had, unless there's a word I don't know that means "sub-Taco Bell."

I'd never been to the place before. I decided to check it out after meeting a few ladies at the West Alabama Ice House last week. They had just come from Azteca's and were buzzed on what they claimed were $10 frozen margarita pitchers. When I went they were actually $15, not that it matters. In retrospect I think I was the victim of subtle and dedicated long-form pranksters. Either that or they were too drunk to care about quality.

The beer deals are standard. And while the margarita deals are decent, the house stuff is predictably sugary. Combine all that sugar with the salt from the meal and suddenly I didn't even feel much like continuing to drink after dinner. I've never been married, but I assume this is the level of quiet despair people experience when they realize they are no longer in love with their spouse.

There were several people eating on the patio outside, but inside the restaurant we were one of three tables. The décor was festive, but the scene was a little depressing thanks to the mostly empty room and the old tinted windows that made Richmond look like a scene from an afternoon matinee displayed on a fading motel-room TV.

After dinner, I joked about walking to the other side of the strip center for a pick-me-up at Didy's Sports Bar, but my date didn't know what I was talking about, so I dropped it.

Maybe a livelier scene would make Azteca's worth it for a couple beers at the bar on a Friday, but as far as food and cheap booze, you're better off taking some tequila to the Ice House and hitting up the Tierra Caliente taco truck.



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