Best Rumor Ever: Baja Fresh is Coming to Midtown

Step aside Chipotle and Qdoba, rumor has it a far superior option is coming to town. A manager from a recently opened Midtown Lunch’ing spot told me the other day that three of his friends have a franchise license from Baja Fresh and plan on bringing a location of the chain to 8th Ave in the 50s.  That’s Midtown people! No word on timetable or exact location…

Why I like Baja Fresh 10 times more than Chipotle and Qdoba, after the jump…  

Is Baja Fresh an “authentic” Mexican burrito? I don’t necessarily know what authentic means, but the answer is probably no.  It’s a freakin’ fast food chain, and still has more in common with places like Qdoba and Chipotle than it does with a real Mexican burrito place… say on the West Coast (or even Anna’s Taqueria in Boston).  But if I had to pick one large national burrito chain, it would be Baja Fresh.  And I base that on one menu item, and one menu item alone:  The Baja Chicken Burrito.

Unlike Chipotle and Qdoba, the Baja Chicken Burrito keeps it simple. No cilantro and lime rice. No overdoing it on the seasonings.  Grilled chicken.  Pico de gallo. Guacamole. Done.  Simple. Perfect.  A handful of *free* tortilla chips (places that charge should be ashamed) and of course the salsa bar; which has a real version of salsa verde made from tomatillos.  I still don’t know what that sauce is Chipotle tries to pass off as salsa verde.  And even more than that, it’s the burrito you can eat every day- and when I lived in L.A. I practically did.  It was my go-to lunch.  Sure, when I wanted a real burrito I had my dirty spots.  But it’s tough to eat one of those every day (even for me), and for the day to day burrito, it was the Baja Chicken Burrito all the way.  I’m sure there are some who will disagree, and I know there are Chipotle lovers out there who I will never convince.  But that’s ok.  The one thing we can agree on… more burritos is always a good thing.  And a Baja Fresh in Midtown will be a welcome addition to the Midtown Lunch’ing scene.

The Midtown Lunch Ultimate Burrito Theory (and how it relates to Chipotle sucking)
Basic Math Blows Holes in Chipotle’s Absurd “Calorie Range”


  • It won’t be good, sorry Zach. But the only thing that made Baja fresh OK in the west is the fact that they had mexicans cooking in the back. Unless they offer me a job, I don’t think they’ll know how to make a decent salsa verde or guac. It’s a harsh opinion, but I’ve been disappointed too much by NYC mex.

  • This would be phenomenal.

  • USA! USA! I might have to get a new job just to be within lunching range of the new Baja spot.

  • What we don’t have Mexicans in nyc? Who do you think cooks in the rest of the restaurants?

  • La Paloma is a stones throw from 8th ave in the mid 40′s and makes fantastic Mexican. NYC is not Ohio, we don’t need ethnic chains here.

  • Hey Mamacita… Have you ever been to the Baja Fresh out in Nassau County? I think that’s the closest one to Midtown. Salsa Verde, and their other salsa’s are damn good there. The spot has been open for ~4 years now and while the place isn’t as clean as it was 4 years ago out in L.I. the food is still consistent and damn good.

    Max… usually what I’ve seen happen in kitchens in NY is that Mexican’s whip up some of the best ethnic foods that aren’t Mexican as line cooks. But, at Mexican restaurants… atleast for cheap takeout’s, always seem to be run for Asians. Strange!

  • Sorry Zach – you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s only the fond memories and nostalgia that you taste.

  • pretty soon all the mexican & chinese takeout places will have gringo ex-financiers in the kitchen

  • I’m already perfecting my short order skills, griddle and burger flipping qualities, and testing out various was of saying “Thank you, come again.” in hopes of getting a jump on the ex-financiers in the new job market once my company goes under.

  • Wait…. they’re hiring?

  • Your all missing the point.

    DDR is alive!

  • 3 Words — Chick-Fil-A (or maybe it’s 1 double-hyphenated word) I’ll be happy the day I hear one of these is opening in midtown.

  • Max,

    I think its the Dominicans cooking in the rest of NYC kitchens.

  • B-Fresh for life, this is one of the better chains out there. Zach, I fully concur with your assessment.


    I would be happiest if the west coast chain opening was Rubio’s Fish Tacos, but i’ll certainly take Baja Fresh.

    Thanks for the scoop Zach!

  • Baja Fresh is the best burrito/taco/mexican chain I’ve ever eaten (ok, so I’ve only eaten Chipotle and hated it. oh wait, Green Cactus in Nassau too). It’s not bad but I can’t say authentic? just yummy.

  • PS Wined & Dined – I’ve heard stirrings of rumors from corporate HQ that they do want to bring a Chik-Fil-A to NYC. The NYU location was a test run or something. It’s doing well. And in the meantime, find an NYU student to bring you some out =P

  • Thanks Yvo. Before I turned 21 I had to get a fake id to get alcohol. Now that I’m over 21, I have to get a fake id to get Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and chicken bisquits…the irony.

  • Sorry Zach, I don’t share your enthusiasm. (I’ve been to the one in Lake Success and I was not impressed.) In general, I would prefer to not support the chainization of New York City. If you walk around midtown it’s starting to look like one giant mall.

  • Chainization?…jesus wept…America…stop inventing bloody words!

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