My family bleeds green: My parents met on Michigan State campus in Bailey Hall in 1986; they got married in the Alumni Chapel in 1993; and in 1997 and 1998, they brought two future Spartans into the world in the form of myself and my sister.

MSU culture has always been prominent in my upbringing, so I’ve been taught to appreciate all aspects of East Lansing, but the most important thing my parents did was introduce us to the iconic food of the area.

From Crunchy’s to Peanut Barrel, I’ve had a literal taste of my parents’ college experience. One of the most prominent food locales from their stories, however, has been the infamous El Azteco, which is still in its original basement location.

With late summer boredom and an itch to return to East Lansing getting the best of me—not to mention the fact that I was having particularly strong cravings for Mexican food that week—I set forth to recreate some of the staples of this mainstay. 

I started out with the El Azteco appetizers, deciding to go with the ever popular guacamole and the crowd-pleasing cheese dip, both of which would serve as elements to the main course as well—killing two birds with one stone.

Classic Guacamole

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:1 min
  • Total Time:11 mins
  • Servings:16
  • Easy


  • 6 avocados
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 tomato deseeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño finely chopped
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • Salt
apple, lime
Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 1

    Half and pit avocados.

  • Step 2

    Mash the avocados slightly. I used a potato masher to achieve the desired texture.

  • Step 3

    Add in the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Season with salt to your taste.

Cheese Dip

  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:1 min
  • Total Time:6 mins
  • Servings:20
  • Easy


  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 16 oz Monterey jack cheese grated
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 jalapeño finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped
Tatum Kenrick
  • Step 1

    Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. It's that simple!

I thought I'd done a pretty decent job in recreating these dishes. However, I still had to pass a final test: what would my parents, the true El Az experts of the family, have to say? Luckily I earned a thumbs up from each of them, so I can rule this experiment a success!

While both of these dips are perfect paired with a healthy portion of your favorite tortilla chips, why stop there? Be on the look out for El Az Part 2, where I take these pre-dinner snacks to the next level by transforming them into two enticing entrees.

Tatum Kenrick