Written by on March 30, 2015 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Northgate neighborhood, Seattle, Washington


How I heard of this place: A family enterprise that began in Burien, where I once dined, at the suggestion of friends, over a decade ago. This visit, too, my first to the Northgate Azteca, was at the suggestion – and craving – of our house guest.

Type of cuisine: “…From dishwasher to cook to chef, [Pepe] Ramos also worked hard at learning English. After saving $1,000, and with his cousin’s blessing, Ramos opened a small 24 seat restaurant in Burien, a Seattle suburb, in 1974.

Ramos eventually earned the money to bring the rest of his family to the United States. His mother, Camerina, enhanced the restaurant menu with her authentic family recipes. His wife and three brothers, Hector, Jaime and Victor were also put to work helping him open additional restaurants, which they eventually managed with Pepe. With no established financial track record, the Ramos’ were unable to obtain bank loans. Nevertheless, with a lot of hard work and persistence they found new locations for more restaurants and were eventually able to acquire bank financing for more rapid growth.

Azteca Entryway

An example of the true American Dream success story, Ramos was once dubbed by Emmett Watson, former columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer, as an Horatio Alger of Seattle – except the “All-American Alger” turns out to be a “red-blooded, honest, God-fearing Mexican.” In a time when most of America searches for family values, the Ramos Family exemplifies a business empire where many key positions are held by family members. So successful is the theme of family loyalty and trust, that all of the mor than 1,400 Azteca employees have become an important part of the Ramos family. Pepe’s recipe for success? Simple: ‘Offer good dependable food at reasonable prices, and treat your employees well, so they treat customers well!’

Azteca View to Bar

Marketed as a family restaurant, Azteca Restaurant Enterprises, Inc. features a wide selection of authentic Mexican fare including a variety of Mexican salads, soups, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and a “Little Amigo™ ” menu, specifically designed for children, all served in a warm Hacienda-style atmosphere. Responding to changing lifestyles, Azteca features a broad range of non-alcoholic beverages, and entrees available for those watching calories, featuring Broiled Chicken Breasts served with Rancho (colesterol-free) beans.

Azteca Seating

Ambiance: True to it’s heritage, the spanish-tiled floors and brightly colored walls welcome patrons to the grand, expansive space. Red and green chairs are set beside red-trimmed tables, booths also available for window dining. A true family-friendly establishment with an extensive menu, it’s ease and simplicity are sure to draw many through its doors.

Azteca Dining

What I ordered: On this visit, after our chips and salsa,

Azteca Chips & Salsa

I enjoyed the Mariscos Mojo de Ajo ($17.99): shrimp sautéed with mushrooms in Azteca’s slightly spicy garlic chile butter.

Azteca Mariscos Mojo de Ajo

My husband and our house-guest each selected the Carne Asada ($16.99 each): thinly sliced, seasoned skirt steak, “carefully charbroiled to perfection” and garnished with whole green onions, fried jalapeño pepper and guacamole.

Azteca Carne Asada

Each entrée was served with Mexican (or white) rice, refried beans (or black or rancho), with the customer’s choice of flour or corn tortillas.

What I loved: Shrimp and mushrooms in that garlic buttery chile sauce. Oh yeah.

Why I loved it: Large portions, extensive menu, vibrant setting.

Cost: Average ($11.99 – $17.99 per entrée)

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