Little touches make Mill Creek’s Azul true blue

MILL CREEK — If you’re in the mood for dinner in a place with a little more style than most, put Azul at the top of your list.

Azul’s is a wooden-tabletop, casual kind of place with dining areas dressed in deep shades of blue. The flicker of about 1,000 votive candles adds a festive feel, and there’s outdoor seating for those rare warm autumn afternoons.

The restaurant opened about a year ago in the Mill Creek Town Center, and my friend and I decided to visit after a Herald reader sent an e-mail filled with praise.

Azul’s has become a very popular place, and the Saturday we stopped for an early dinner, the bar area was filled with college football fans and the dining rooms were more than half full. The upbeat background music generated an additional layer of energy, in keeping with the restaurant’s distinctive character.

The menu features dishes that appeal to almost everyone: salads and sandwiches, plus favorites such as burritos, enchiladas and tacos with a choice of beef, chicken, pork or vegetarian. Seafood choices include grilled prawns, salmon with mango salsa, fish tacos and crab cakes.

And Azul’s is good for families, too. During our visit, many customers arrived sleeping in their carriers.

For our dinner, my friend ordered his favorite, chicken fajitas ($13.99), and I decided on one of the house specialties — Rico’s red chili enchiladas ($11.99) filled with shredded beef. Our side dishes were a delightful change from the standard because the rice was a tad tastier and black beans replaced the usual refried pintos. The salsa is on the mild side, but it’s a wonderfully thick combination of fresh vegetables with enough substance to hold your chips upright. The chips were freshly fried, crispy and warm, and there were a few blue ones with the traditional yellow.

The shredded beef enchiladas were just as good as our Herald reader said they would be. The beef was tender with just enough chili to give it flavor, not heat. The excellent side dishes boasted an added flourish — cilantro in the sour cream.

My friend described his chicken fajitas as a “10.” In addition the perfect fajitas, he got a hearty portion of everything — chicken with bell pepper and onion strips, corn tortillas, sour cream with chopped cilantro, fresh guacamole with chunks of avocado and tomato, black beans and rice. The serving size was so large, in fact, that he went home with a midnight snack box.

Even though we didn’t clean our plates, we didn’t skip dessert. We split a flan ($6) and it was one of the best for two reasons: The custard had a light, air pocket-less texture, and the caramel topping was sprinkled with just enough toasted coconut to make it a little different.

By the time we finished our meal, there was the beginning of a line waiting for a table. Azul is a very popular place and it deserves the attention.

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