Published on May 14th, 2012 | by Kevin Barron2
Review: Playa Azul
Editor’s Note: This restaurant has closed permanently.
821 South Irby Street (map)
Florence, SC 29501
WHY YOU SHOULD GO
It’s Mexican and not Tex-Mex. That’s a refreshing change for Florence. The food is made fresh to order using fresh ingredients wherever possible. Taken together, this authentic menu is unlike anything we’ve experienced in recent years and we think you’ll appreciate it as much as we do. Go ahead, leave the Taco Bell behind and try this true taste of Mexico.
WHY WE’LL GO AGAIN
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the people we met there. The food was seasoned well, not simply spiced up with peppers and covered in heavy sauces. The menu, while extensive, is manageable and presents an open invitation to explore the many traditional dishes available that are simply not found elsewhere.
We arrived at about 1:00pm on a weekday; the same day we received a friend’s recommendation to try out this new Florence eatery. Normally, we can’t get to recommended restaurants that quickly, but on that day we were in the neighborhood and I was off work. Kismet.
The dining room is bright, well-lit, colorful, and — let’s call it — “beachy.” The dining room is small, but comfortable as are the tables and chairs. We were seated near the large front window and handed the tropically-themed menus for review. As is my custom at new restaurants, I asked the server for a recommendation and, in this case, she had several. Her knowledge of the menu was thorough and her suggestion to try the all natural, fruit-flavored waters was particularly well received by my Mrs. She ordered the Watermelon Water and raved over her two refills as much as her first glass. Our selections made, the order was placed, and the buzz of activity in the kitchen commenced.
When delivered to our table, our selections were as beautiful as they were delicious. The order was correct and we were ready to rock-n-roll. I had the Torta Panbaso ($7.00). Essentially it’s an authentic Mexican sandwich. Layered between the bread were lettuce, tomato, queso fresco, and pork. Spicy due to the dipped bread, but not hot. My Mrs. ordered Taquitos Dorados ($7.00). Hers included five taquitos filled with seasoned steak, covered with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream. My parents, who were with us that day, ordered Las Gringas ($9.00) and the Shrimp Taco Salad ($7.78). Take a look at the photo gallery below for images of each. We ate, and ate, and ate, but the portions were large and I don’t think we finished everything. I dare say we all wanted to, however.
We asked for the check, which was presented accurately and took the opportunity to also talk with the server. It turns out, as of the day we visited the Playa Azul had been open for a grand total of about 72 hours. You couldn’t tell that from our experience, however. We’d recommend that you not delay; visit today.
SELECTED MENU ITEMS
See images of the menu below in the Photo Gallery.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
None at the moment, as we were very impressed with the food and the staff. We’ll share any issues that may present themselves during future visits.