After querying my fellow hounds for a North of Boston spot, I took Pluziam's suggestion and headed to Cafe Azteca on Common Street in Lawrence. Ended up having a great meal and finding a new place for very good mexican food!
We arrived at 6:30 to find ample parking and only one other party in the dining room. The room is very casual. We were greeted warmly. We both ordered sangria which arrived as a filled to the brim wineglass of fruity goodness!
Chips and salsa arrived -- nothing to complain about but nothing to write home about, either. Salsa could use a bit more "kick" -- I'm thinking that requesting it that way would be well-received by the kitchen.
My friend had Shrimp Cecelia which I am unable to describe in detail. I can say that she wiped her plate clean. I had Shrimp Azteca which were 8 or so medium shrimp (perfectly cooked) in a spicy (!!) sauce -- the sauce was kind of veggie based (as opposed to creamy). It had mushrooms in it and some other vegetables. The spiciness of the sauce was just as advertised on the menu. Both meals came with rice and refried beans (wish I had thought to ask for black beans instead for health reasons :-) but the refried ones were quite good!).
I also ordered an order of chicken mole for my hubby at home. He hasn't tried it yet but it was a good sized portion of chicken pieces over rice in a rich looking mole sauce.
Bill for 3 entrees and 2 glasses of Sangria came to $40 pre-tip. When we left at 8:15 the room had filled up a bit with a large party (8 or so) and about 3 other couples.
Will definitely return. The menu is filled with goodies and I need to try them all :-)
Thanks for the suggestion!