Baja Fresh pledges `California Mexican'

`American-style' is description given for grill's cuisine

Restaurant profile

April 05, 2001|By Jody Vilschick | Jody Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Opened in February, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill defies easy categorization.

It is anything but Tex-Mex. "We call it `California Mexican,'" says Jorge Castro, general manager of Baja Fresh. "It's American-style Mexican food."

With a few silk palm trees and a crisp black-and-white decor, the restaurant does invoke a modern Mexico or California atmosphere - according to Castro, purposely eons away from the rustic Mexican plazas common to other Mexican restaurants.

Although the prompt, cafeteria-style service is similar to that at fast-food restaurants, "food cannot be made at microwave speed," a sign warns.

Other signs promise "no can openers, no freezers, no microwaves."

Like other Mexican restaurants, Baja Fresh offers its versions of burritos, tacos, fajitas and enchiladas.

On the menu are the Baja Burrito, Burrito Mexicano (charbroiled chicken or steak, black or pinto beans, rice, chopped onion, cilantro with hot or mild salsa), Burrito Ultimo (charbroiled chicken or steak with melted jack and cheddar cheese, grilled peppers, chilis and onions, rice, sour cream and salsa) Grilled Vegetarian Burrito (a mixture of spicy grilled peppers, chilis and onions, black or pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa) and the Burritos Dos Manos (a burrito for each hand).

If tacos are your favorite, you can choose from the Baja Fish Taco (lightly breaded snapper, topped with cabbage, salsa, tangy dressing and a squeeze of lime), Baja Style Tacos (mini-soft corn tortillas with chopped onion and cilantro, hot or mild salsa and choice of charbroiled, marinated chicken, steak or shrimp), Chicken or Steak Taquitos and Taco Chilito (soft, open-faced corn tortillas, charbroiled chicken or steak, black or pinto beans, grilled peppers, chilis and onions, cheese, sour cream and hot or mild salsa).

It also offers a Baja Ensalada (romaine lettuce, charbroiled chicken, tortilla strips and salsa tossed and topped with shaved cheese), Tostada (hard shell flour tortilla filled with mixed greens, black or pinto beans, guacamole, sour cream, jack cheese, tomatoes and salsa - either steak or chicken optional), Torta (a toasted Mexican roll with charbroiled chicken or steak, guacamole, sour cream, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato) and Mini Tosta-Dita (a small, crispy flour tortilla filled with charbroiled chicken, salsa, rice and black or pinto beans).

If you want to try one of the combos, you can choose from the Baja Fajita Combo (strips of charbroiled chicken or steak with grilled chilis, onions and peppers, served with beans, rice, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and corn tortillas), Tres Tacos (three tacos served with guacamole) and the Taco Combo Plate (two chicken, steak, fish or shrimp tacos served with rice, black or pinto beans, lettuce and salsa).

Check the salsa bar, which offers four varieties (levels of hotness) of freshly made salsa, along with chilis and sliced jalapenos.

"Our most popular salsa is the Salsa Baja, a dark but medium-flavored salsa," Castro says.

Salsa is also available for purchase in 8-ounce containers.

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill

Where: Dobbin Center, 6435 Dobbin Road, C-1, Columbia, 410-715-3933.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Appetizers, $1.25 to $3.25; entrees, $2.10 to $7.35.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

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