Topopo Salad — El Azteco


It’s not named after a popular mouse on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” It has nothing to do with toes, either (thankfully). Topo, en Español, means “great lump.” Extending the word implies an even greater lump. El Azteco’s Topopo Salad surely qualifies. This entrée is truly a massive, mammoth and monstrous mound of mouth-watering magnificence.

According to the menu, a Topopo Salad is a “mountain of salad, the Mexican counterpart to the American Chef salad, with lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, cheese, jalapenos, peas and scallions … served on a bed of tortilla chips spread with frijoles, melted cheese & guacamole.”

It’s a mixture of warm and cold, cooked and raw, spicy and tame, appetizer and entrée, all in one.

It’s basically bean, cheese and guacamole nachos barn-roofed with a chicken salad. I prefer the version without the chicken. The request does little to diminish the pile.

El Azteco serves beans without lard and frozen (not canned) peas. The restaurant boasts fresh ingredients and local sources. I’ve never been served a Topopo with brown lettuce.

Experienced servers blanket the table with napkins before delivering the rather messy mountain and include side plates to manage its avalanches. It is offered in half ($12.50) or full ($14.50) size. Either is easily enough to share.

I suggest settling for the ample halfsize. But if hiding from those sitting across the table is desired, pick the grande version.

—David Winkelstern

El Azteco (two locations)

1016 W. Saginaw St., Lansing 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday- Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday (517) 485-4589

225 Ann St., East Lansing 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday- Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday (517) 351-9111

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