The latest attempt to revamp the former Brickhouse Bar and Grill into a happening Mexican restaurant kicked off last Sunday, with the grand opening of Plaza Mexico.
For Plaza Mexico Bar and Grill the tough path to success has just begun.
The painted walls from “El Toro,” the previous Mexican restaurant to inhabit the large brick structure at 2120 Diamond Hill Road, still remain, giving customers a reminder of the “Mexican-American-Fusion” restaurant that lasted only a few months before Plaza came along.
But in an attempt to differentiate itself from the failed “El Toro”, Plaza has updated everything else, from the menus to the margaritas. Plaza's owner, a respected named Hector Alvarez brings a focus on authentic Mexican cuisine.
He said he has brought in the kitchen staff from N.C. to ensure they stay true to his homestyle Mexican recipes, which include carnitas (deep fried tender pieces of pork), fajita vallarta (fajitas served with beef, chicken, shrimp and chorizo) and mole poblano (chicken breast topped with a sweet chocolate-tinged sauce.)
Perhaps what could be the difference between success and failure in a precarious location on Diamond Hill Road is Plaza’s frozen, green elixir -- the margarita. At Plaza Mexico there are a multitude of options.
One could opt for the classic: Their secret in-house combination of lime juice, sour mix and tequila, mixed by one of their N.C. transplant bartenders, Andres Ramirez.
But if you want to try something new, there’s Plaza’s twist on the margarita. Instead of using lime juice, they use orange juice and swap out the sour mix for Triple Sec; then mix in the tequila. The result is a sweet margarita that gives the drink a tropical taste.
If you come with a party, even better. Margaritas are available in regular ($6.25,) jumbo ($10.25,) monster ($12.25) or in a pitcher ($22.95) and they come in a variety of flavors from strawberry, raspberry and peach to Pina Colada and banana.
Each table is provided with warm chips and a smoky, spicy salsa that tastes like its been relocated from the taquerias of Puerto Vallarta. Also available, at an extra cost, is fresh made guacamole, which servers whip up at your table (a true Mexican tradition.)
The expansive menu gives customers plenty of options. There are tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas and chimichangas as well as seafood, chicken and beef steak dishes.
The prices for entrees range from $8 for two quesadillas to $17 for a t-bone steak with shrimp, rice and beans.
Inside the restaurant is impeccably clean. The bar is glossed over, chairs have been washed, servers’ stations were shined and the orange-tiled floor looked freshly mopped on Wednesday afternoon. Mexican folk music played from speakers quietly in the background and the Red Sox game was being aired on the nine flat screen TVs hung throughout the bar area.
It looked like a restaurant ready to have a party, or at least a few more customers. The bartender and a server said business has been slow since the opening, but they’re hopeful it will pick up as the community starts to try it out.
The restaurant is able to accommodate 285 people, with space for 25 at the bar and a private party section that can host up to 100. Plaza Mexico is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.