First Look: The Food From the New Baja Fresh (Opening Today)
The day has finally arrived! The first Manhattan location of the popular West Coast chain Baja Fresh opens today on Lexington btw. 45+46th (in the old Zen Burger space.) Last week we gave away the chance to sample the place for free before they officially opened, and one of the winners sent in this report:
“I went [on Sunday] night. The place was roomy and reminded me of a bare-looking Qdoba. The food was fresh and good but nothing to write home about. My friend and I ordered a chicken breast baja burrito ($7.75), a mahi mahi diablo burrito ($9.23), guacamole/chips ($4.29) and churros ($2.58). Please note that each burrito order came with free corn tortilla chips.
“The grilled chicken breast baja burrito was the best thing we got. It was basically grilled chicken breast with guacamole and pico de gallo wrapped with a flour tortilla. The whole burrito is heated/toasted to look like taco bell’s grilled stuff burrito.”
And then things went south…
“The toasted flour tortilla skin was the worst thing about the burrito because it gave the whole burrito a dry feeling in my mouth. The mahi mahi burrito was just bad. Neil, one of the owners/managers, warned me after I ordered that the fish would not be good as a burrito…too bad. The guacamole was very plain; seemed to be just avocado, tomatoes, onions and salt. The corn chips were also very plain and not very crispy. However, they did have a salsa bar, which provided a wide range of salsas such as pico de gallo, salsa verde, mango/pineapple salsa, etc. The salsas however, could not save the chips.
The churros were the best thing I had. They were crispy and perfectly sweet.
Conclusion: The menu is extensive and the build-your-own burrito option allows for a lot of variety. The ingredients are also what they stand for, FRESH. Unfortunately, the food lacks character and nothing makes Baja Fresh stand out among the other food options in midtown. Simply if I wanted Mexican, I would rather go to Chipotle or even better, Maui Tacos.” -Lunch’er Peter
This report surprisingly doesn’t worry me too much. Not everybody is going to like Baja Fresh. In fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of you are going to hate it. I only order the Baja Chicken Burrito, so Peter’s report gives me hope that they didn’t screw it up. In fact, I actually like the Baja Chicken Burrito for all the reasons stated above… *because* it’s plain, and simple. No cilantro and lime rice. No over salted beans, mixed with over salted meat. Simple and clean food. I don’t go to Baja Fresh looking for Mexican food (for that, I’ll go to El Rey del Sabor.) I go when I feel like a burrito, made from fresh ingredients that won’t make you feel disgusting after eating it. (Something Qdoba and Chipotle haven’t quite mastered yet.) It’s my version of the Midtown salad… the thing I eat when I’ve had street meat one too many days in a row. Glad to hear they give you free chips (a huge plus) and that the salsa bar is in effect… although I’m a little wary of the mango/pineapple salsa. Don’t remember ever seeing that in SoCal. And $7.75 for a burrito is a bit more expensive than I was hoping, so it’s not all good news.
Can’t decide if I’m going to hit them up today, or give them a week to get things under control before I do it up Baja Chicken Burrito style. Early adopters I know you can’t wait. Feel free to report back in the comments below.