Posts Tagged Baja Grill
Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…
I love David’s Burgers just as much as the next guy. Heck, it’s definitely in the discussion for top 3 burgers in town, but can they ease up on the salt shaker at the WLR location? My chicken burger, which also now seems like a thinner patty (meaning: less meat), was way over-seasoned. Don’t get me wrong, I ate every bite, but I spent the rest of the night sucking down water like I was wandering around a desert. That said, the fries, which I’ve never been blown away with, were the best I’ve ever had at David’s. The crispy, not-so-greasy exterior will get you excited about them being all-you-can-eat. Per usual, the service at David’s was stellar.
How can you not like Doe’s Eat Place? Just walking into the place feels like a warm Little Rock hug. Last Friday, my two tablemates and I split a 3-pound Porterhouse cooked medium rare, which includes all of the fixings (dipping toast, fries, and soaked salad). We also polished off some Delta-style tamales with chili. The steak was excellent, especially the filet side, and although it wasn’t the best version I’ve had at Doe’s, it did have that signature crust and perfectly cooked medium-rare interior. And the sides? I could eat a large tub of the soaked soaked if it was socially acceptable, and the fries and bread are the ideal vehicles for meat-juice dipping. Once again, Doe’s proves that solid food, reasonable prices, and excellent service are the keys to longevity in the Little Rock market.
Enough about the old go-to’s like Doe’s and David’s. Have you checked out the still new-ish food truck called The Wunderbus (Wayfaring Germanic Cuisine)? I caught them while wandering around the Cornbread Festival and was blown away by The Floki, a pork/beef meatball sandwich with a rich, mushroom/onion/tomato sauce on a Sidney & Sons French bun. Simply put, the sandwich ($12) was absolutely fantastic, so good, in fact, that I returned 10 minutes later to order another one because my kids wolfed down the first sandwich. I’ve been on record as saying our food truck scene in this area is currently way down. Several trucks have folded and the ones that are left often lack creativity. Not The Wunderbus. Much like The Southern Gourmasian, this is a food truck to get genuinely excited about. The food comes out in a timely manner, is fun, creative, different, and above all … delicious. Follow them on Facebook to see where they’ll be next.
It’s been too damn long since my last visit to Baja Grill in the Heights. Remember when everyone was saying that location was jinxed? Seems like Baja has put that ridiculous notion to rest. And they do it with a simple menu, comprised predominately of tacos and burritos. Per usual, I ordered one each of the Cuban and Pig Sooie tacos, the latter being a non-traditional offering of pork, barbeque sauce, and pickled red onions … all resting on two, white corn tortillas. Each taco is $4.50 and you can add a side of rice and beans for $2.25. Part of me just wishes it would come as a complete plate and just charge me $11.25 for the entire shebang … but I get why they structure the menu this way. Anyways, we sat on the patio and enjoyed some of this wonderful summer/fall weather.
Quick Hits: The sausage and cheese kolaches at the Shipley’s on Shackleford are my favorite in town. I wish we have more options, but for now, these will do. I had an hour to kill the other night, so I headed over to Heights Taco & Tamale Co. for a $5 happy hour frozen margarita. It hit the spot. Why do I continue to eat Kroger sushi? It’s overpriced and woefully below average, but it still has a once-a-month hold on me. Boulevard still serves the best cup of coffee in town, but Honey Pies, The Root, and Trio’s (they use dark roast Westrock) are also excellent options, just to name a few.
Even though Arkansas is a landlocked state, good seafood can be had here in Little Rock. You just need to know where to find it. Here is a nice rundown of my top seafood dishes in the area that I’ve eaten over the past 3+ years.
Shrimp a la Plancha at El Palenque
Here’s a little secret you may or may not know… Chef David Martinez is one of the best cooks in the city. Judging by the always packed restaurant, you do know. Order the Shrimp a la Plancha, a beautiful plate of grilled shrimp and onions with refried beans, rice, and avocado.
Thin Fish at The Faded Rose
If you are a lover of fried catfish, I just don’t think you will find any better than what The Faded Rose is cranking out with this super thin, fried-to-perfection version.
Black Cod Samfaina at The Terrace
A beautiful piece of pan-seared cod is accompanied by a deliciously salty ragu of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and onions.
Specials at Trio’s
It’s really difficult to narrow it down to one dish, so I’ll just recommend that you keep an eye on Trio’s rotating fish specials. I recently had the glazed salmon, which was amazing, as was my cioppini, a bowl of mixed seafood of scallops, mussels, grouper, and shrimp.
Catfish at South on Main
The first thing I ever at South on Main, this seared catfish is still a staple on every seasonal menu. Chef Bell is a master at pairing it with other ingredients, making this fairly light dish a must-order.
Salmon at The Pantry Crest
When you look down at your plate of salmon with a side of asparagus, couscous, and spinach, you think “What the hell is so special about this dish?” And then you take a bite of the most perfectly cooked, simply seasoned salmon in town … and it all makes sense.
Crawfish Etouffee at The Faded Rose
A hearty portion of mildly spicy, slightly thickened, blond roux with a plentiful supply of small crawfish tails is topped with a pile of seasoned rice.
Bouillabaisse at Boulevard Bistro
Check to make sure it’s on the menu, as I think they rotate the bouillabaisse in and out. This dish is a seafood lover’s paradise.
Walleye at Brave New Restaurant
It’s been a few years for me, but I do remember the walleye being quite delicious and a signature Little Rock dish. To not include it on this list would be a travesty. Well, that’s a little dramatic, but you know what I mean.
Fried Shrimp at Doe’s
Doe’s does some pretty mean fried shrimp. The soft, lightly fried crust is what I enjoy most about these jumbo-sized bad boys.
Redfish at Maddie’s Place
I love red fish. Maddie’s seared red fish with garlic grits, green beans and crawfish etouffee sauce is as beautiful as it is tasty.
Ensalada del Sol at Heights Taco & Tamale
This beautifully presented salad includes skewers of medium-sized, well-seasoned shrimp resting atop a bed of crisp, chopped romaine lettuce. Perfectly ripe slices of avocado and mango sit on the edges.
Shrimp Soup at Rosalinda’s
Admittedly, the actual shrimp in this dish are average at best, but they impart such a wonderful flavor to the broth, making it a must-order on any visit to Rosalinda.
Shrimp and Grits at Ciao Baci
Ciao Baci’s version of shrimp and grits isn’t on the regular menu, so keep an eye out of it. Chef Owen uses top-notch shrimp, which make all of the difference.
Scallops at One Eleven
I rarely order scallops in Little Rock, but One Eleven has an excellent supplier, so if you’re hankering for some sweetness of the sea, this is it.
Green Shrimp Curry at kBird
Sweet, a little sour, and a tad spicy … the green shrimp curry really has it all to ignite your taste buds.
Shrimp Diablo at El Palenque
This dish is probably the spiciness plate I’ve ordered while living in Little Rock. That said, I’m a little bit of a wimp, but if you like hot, order the Shrimp Diablo.
Shrimp and Grits at The Faded Rose
Much like the delicious crawfish etouffee, TFR’s shrimp and grits features a delicious blond roux and plump, perfectly cooked shrimp.
Sushi at Kemuri
Any of Kemuri’s numerous sushi rolls are a hit. Like its sister restaurant, Oceans, if you’re in the mood for the best sushi in town, expect to find it at either of these two spots.
Tilapia Assada at Bossa Nova
I know most folks are down on tilapia right now, but Bossa Nova’s version, a pan-seared piece of fish with basil pesto, is pretty damn good.
Fried Catfish at Flying Fish
It’s Little Rock … you know I had to mention fried catfish a few times on this list. Like most everything at Flying Fish, the catfish is consistently good.
Crispy Squid Filet (or Calamari Snitzel) at Table 28
Tender, meaty strips of squid filet are beer-battered, fried, and then served with cocktail sauce. This is not your run-of-the-mill calamari.
Shrimp Tacos at Baja Grill
The shrimp tacos aren’t necessarily my first choice when dining at Baja Grill (Pig Sooey is), but that’s not to say they aren’t great. They are … mainly because the shrimp are a tad blackened and a little spicy.
Citrus Tuna Ceviche at Local Lime
This redesigned ceviche at Local Lime includes chunks of Ahi tuna, avocado, along with cucumber, lime, cilantro, and a ginger citrus jalapeno vinaigrette.
Boiled Crawfish at The Faded Rose
Hey, it’s crawfish season (until about mid-late May). On Wednesday nights starting at 4 p.m. (and until they run out), you can grab yourself a platter of the mud bugs. Just make sure to order a beer, as they tend to be spicy, but in a good way.
Buffalo Ribs at Lassis Inn
Eating Buffalo ribs at Lassis Inn is something every Little Rocker should do at least once in their life. This bottom-dweller fish is definitely an acquired taste, but if you enjoy yourself a meaty, hearty fish rib, these are for you.
Grilled Oysters at South on Main
Oysters, check. Butter, check. Parmesan cheese, check. What’s not to love?
Stock Pot at The Pantry
This dish is changing constantly, but no worries, it’s only a matter of if it will be “really good” or “great.” Delicate white fish, broth, and root veggies often provide the foundation of one of my all-time fav Pantry dishes. Keep an eye out as I don’t see this dish currently on the menu at either restaurant.
Mama Chi’s Spicy Fish at Chi’s
Delicate pieces of white fish rest in a thick and spicy sauce, making Mama Chi’s Spicy Fish a must-order each time I’m at this Chi’s location.
Shrimp Po’boy at Table 28
This po’boy doesn’t get near the attention as some of the other around town, but it’s just as good. Chef Rains loads it with fried shrimp, kale slaw, and pickled peppers.
Little Rock’s food scene is at an all-time high. With it, comes an increase in writing on blogs, publications and social media. This is a good thing. These insights and opinions get people talking, helping lead to a stronger food community. The Around Town Round-Up grabs links from a variety of sources throughout the city, putting them all in one post for your reading pleasure. So, let’s get to it.
I was watching television the other morning and saw Julianne Bitely talking food. This is her “Holistic Health and Nutrition” blog. Check it out.
Are you up for some of the biggest food challenges in Central Arkansas? If so, go to Sync Weekly for a full rundown of what’s out there (I’ll even be witnessing one of these this weekend).
Restaurant reviewer connoisseur Emily Van Zandt takes on One Eleven.
Steve Shuler has the first look at Good Food by Ferneau and Butcher & Public.
You know who’s back? Daniel Walker, that’s who. Here’s a look at his latest installment of Cheers and Jeers. He’s doing more cheering than jeering this time around.
Looking for ways to use apples in your baking? Lee Hogan has you covered.
Joel DiPippa gives you his views (including Best Bar, Best Bartender, and Best Happy Hour) in this in-depth “Toast of the Town” post. What’s your favorite bar in town?
This one is a few months old…but what a great read on Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried.
Chef Matt McClure is very good at his job. Don’t believe me? Check out this post from Kat Robinson.
In my latest installment of Around the Rock, I take a look at Baja Grill, Mylo Coffee, Co., South on Main and Little Greek.
Down in Hot Springs, Louis Williams (Next Level) gives you the skinny on Pupuseria Mi Chalateca.
Former Benton food truck turned Heights brick-and-mortar, Baja Grill, is set to open tomorrow at 11 a.m. The cozy neighborhood restaurant, located at 5923 Kavanaugh (the old Satellite Café location), will specialize in Mex-Cali cuisine.
Patrons can expect a menu filled with various burrito, taco and quesadilla options. I’ve eaten quite a few items from their food truck–all were good and some were absolutely spectacular. But none were better than the Cuban burrito; this “most craved” menu item consists of a flour tortilla filled with slow-smoked shredded pork and topped with house made chipotle aioli, red cabbage-jicama slaw, avocado slices and fresco cheese.
At tonight’s soft opening, I ordered the blackened shrimp as well as the Cuban taco. Both were quite substantial and filled with delightfully fresh ingredients. Our appetizer of chips and guacamole was also spot-on. The chips were thin and crisp and held up quite nicely when dipped into the chunky guac. Also, sides of black beans and rice are a must order. In short, Baja Grill hasn’t skipped a beat. As far as I could tell, they are churning out the exact same quality food as they did during their truck days.
As with any new restaurant, I’d encourage folks to give the place a little time to work out any kinks. But when they do … watch out.
Notes: Portions were large and prices were more than reasonable. Most tacos will run you around $3.50-$4.75 range and burritos about twice that. Patio and bar seating is available. Baja Grill has 14 parking spots around the side and rear of the restaurant. Street parking is also available, as is parking at the bank across the street (as long as the bank is closed). Currently, the restaurant offers BYOW with a $7.95 table corkage fee (until their liquor license is approved). In the upcoming weeks, diners can expect nightly “specials” and an expanded dessert menu.