“Hey man, do you wanna go to Plaza?”
~Travis Rocha, Lifestyle Editor~
As seasoned Captains will recall, there was once a time, not too long ago, when the question “Hey, do you wanna go to Plaza?” elicited the immediate response “Which one? The good one or the bad one?” By this, one would be referring to the arguably more fit for date night Plaza Azteca located on Jefferson Ave. versus the comparably dingy Plaza Azteca on Warwick Blvd. (conveniently situated right next to campus), respectively. Despite the perceived difference in quality, both restaurants saw sizable popularity amongst the Christopher Newport student body, and, on any given weekend, a Captain would be sure to run into a few familiar faces while finding his or her seat for a meal (or drink). Earlier in 2020, Warwick Blvd.’s Plaza Azteca was the subject of some noticeable renovations which birthed the restaurant anew. Even through upholding COVID-19 regulations and guidelines, what was once the “bad Plaza” has blossomed into one of the most popular spots around campus, typically with a socially distanced line leading out of the door and wrapping around the side as groups of friends eagerly chatter as they await to be seated, illuminated in the evening by Plaza’s trademark neon sign and the white Virginia moon. (Though, even before the renovations—there was never any shortage of clamoring Captains vying for a booth in which they would enjoy some free chips and salsa, sure to be followed with a combo meal and jumbo margarita.)
Since the grand reopening of Warwick’s Plaza, I have heard nary a mention of the Jefferson Plaza. While I rest assured that the Jefferson establishment is every bit as well-kept and decadent as my collegiate taste buds recall, the convenience of walking to the Warwick location is unmatched—a sentiment I am sure is shared by my fellow Captains. The food at either is the same and the menu features every Mexican classic one can dream of: tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc. All of which are available in various combo meals featuring a variety of proteins including seafood, steak, chicken, and veggie options. As a vegetarian, I have had no trouble finding meal options which suit me; however, since Mexican food is not my favorite, I’ve opted to sample some less conventional menu items during the many, many occasions my friends and I have paid a visit to Plaza. For example, Plaza Azteca’s french fries rival those of any popular fast food chain and due to their affordability have become a favorite for myself and many of my friends. Though, one item on the menu which I have not yet had the courage to order is their cheese pizza. One may call into the question the culinary integrity of a Mexican restaurant which serves cheese pizza, but I insist that there is nothing more admirable than versatility. Though, despite my admiration, my cautious nature has previously prevented me from venturing towards such an oddity. However, I have now resolved to try this cheese pizza on my next visit to Plaza which I am positive will be in the coming weeks.
A trip to Plaza is one of friendship and merriment. Many of my fondest memories involve the birthday shenanigans which have taken place there over the last few years. One particular night stands out wherein my friend was celebrating his 21st birthday. As is tradition, our Plaza waitress crowned him with the sacred birthday sombrero, and upon his coronation we all raucously cheered as onlookers feared for the precariously placed margarita glasses which crowded our table’s surface. In the midst of our rowdy, jolly behavior which simulated a mild earthquake, a friend of mine abruptly shouted “Hey, it was Travis’ birthday two days ago!” A comment which I appreciated, but felt unnecessary to be shared—despite this, to my absolute delight, our waitress immediately fetched a second birthday sombrero which warmed my heart that the good folks at Plaza would be so diligent as to invest in multiple birthday sombreros.
Warwick’s Plaza Azteca feels like home. As the setting for so many of my most cherished memories as a Captain, I can’t help but fondly reminisce every time I drive past the restaurant’s neon glow. Plaza Azteca will likely remain a staple in the Christopher Newport community for years to come, and I am glad that is so.
The Warwick Plaza Azteca is located at 12428 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, VA 23606.
The Jefferson Plaza Azteca is located 12099 Jefferson Ave, Newport News, VA 23606.
For more information, visit their website at https://plazaazteca.com/.