Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Azul 17: New For Howard County

In the midst of recession, someone has a pair of cajones to invest in a new restaurant that looks upscale and unique for Howard County.

The Azul 17 restaurant looks ready to open on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia. I don't know much, and I'm trying to keep my expectations low because nothing beats discovering an unexpected treat -- like the recent arrival of a great new joint for sandwiches and bread.

But I'm piecing together hopes that Azul 17 is going to open something special. Talk of upscale Mexican. Ads for fine-dining waiters on the door. Modern furniture that certainly looks like it'll compete with Aida Bistro for classiest spot in a strip mall. The new sign says "Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Lounge." They registered the Web site http://www.azul17.com/ in mid-August.

Again, I don't know much. A few weeks ago, Vkatnyte commented that Azul 17 had been advertising for bartenders and servers on Craiglist. Vkatnyte mentioned a chef/owner named Damien. A few days later, Anonymous commented that he/she had been talking to Lily Soto, the owner of Lily's Mexican Market about a place to be opened by her husband Julio:
I drove by and sure enough it is there and is suppose to open beginning of October. It looks really cool inside with blue teal walls and white leather banquettes, very modern & lounge like. She mentioned the food would be authentic but with a more contemporary preparation, offering over 100 tequilas, and live lounge djs on friday and saturdays. I am so excited to have a new and hip place to hange out on the weekends, Can't Wait!
I love Lily's Mexican Market -- ironically because it feels authentically local, like a place Mexicans would do their basic shopping. Modern banquettes, 100 tequilas and live DJs would be a very different feel. Last night, we drove past on our way back from sushi, and it looked like there were televisions playing inside Azul 17. I caught only a glimpse from Snowden, but it got me excited. But trying not to be too excited!

What else do you know about Azul 17? The new restaurant is in the same shopping center as Akbar's and Nichi Bei Kai. It's the stretch between Broken Land Parkway and Rte 175, south of the Home Depot.

This looks like the kind of place that wants to be on Top 10 lists, so check out my 2009 "best restaurants" in Howard County.

7 comments:

pizzablogger said...

Ohhhh.....I LOVE tequila and am hoping they stock a large selection of it like Blue Agave does in Bawlmer.

Finding a place that actually makes a good margarita is definitely harder than finding a good pizza joint.

Maybe we can get together for a drink one night at Azul 17 Brent. Which reminds me, I forget to put up my "famous" margarita recipe on-line (hint, less is more. margarita "mixes" and stuff like OJ is for the birds)

Chuck said...

pizzablogger,

You can put that "famous" margarita recipe up now. Here. Thanks.

Christine said...

This sounds great! Can't wait to hear what you think of it when it does open. =)

dzoey said...

I just tried Azul 17 this evening. They're slowly opening with the grand opening on October 8th. Currently they're only serving dinner, and only appetizers, salads, and small plates. This week they add main dishes and next week is lunch.

I liked the decor which gives the place a nightclub feel. Not sure if it will go over well in family oriented Columbia, but on the other hand, there's probably pent up demand for a place like this. They are happy to see families as well, and treated my kids nicely, but if I were in my 20's, I'd feel comfortable coming here.

The food was good. Real mexican, not Tex-Mex, though they say they'll have some Tex-Mex on the menu for people's comfort zones.

The tacos are excellent, just like Lille's Market (mother-in-law of the owner) or one of the US1 taco trucks. I tried the Sopas de Tortilla, expecting a chicken-soup type dish. Instead I got an intensely flavored tomato based soup with chicken in it. It was delicious and surprising. We also tried the crab empenadas which I liked but the kids didn't.

They have two salsas, one mild but very flavorful and the other one spicy with decent flavor and a nice long tail.

Definitely worth checking out. We'll go back when more of the menu is available.

dzoey said...

Oh, I should have mentioned that they have a full bar and it's well decorated. I don't really drink so I can't comment on the bartender's capabilities, but it looks cool.

Jus- said...

Hands down the coolest place in Columbia. Delicious food, great drinks and top-notch "real" DJs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Save the gas, forget the city, Columbia finally has quality nightlife.

Jus- said...

AND YES, the margaritas are amazing!! 17 Signature margaritas made with fresh ingredients.