Monday, August 5, 2013

Reeling in Great Tacos at Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Fish Tacos
27755 Santa Margarita Parkway #B
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

This is another one of those restaurants that has been on our list of must try restaurants forever. It has slowly made its way towards the top of our list as we have eaten at other restaurants, and then they get deleted from the list. Baja Fish Tacos was suggested by a reader of the blog, named Tina. Tina if you are reading this, I am sorry it has taken us so long to make it to Baja Fish Tacos, but now that we have eaten here, my only regret is that it took us so long to try it.

Baja Fish Tacos is a mini chain with six locations, including this one. They have another location on the way, which is in Belmont Shore. I have heard that they are close to opening, sometime in the next month or so. If you are familiar with the area, they are taking over the spot where Sweet Jill's Bakery once stood. That business, along with four others, have been relocated to other parts of Belmont Shore to make room for this totally revamped restaurant.

Now that you are up to date with all of the news from Baja Fish Tacos, let's talk about our visit to this Mission Viejo location. Baja Fish Tacos is located in the same center that includes a Sprouts Supermarket, a Claim Jumper, and right next door is a Grill Hut. We got here at about five on a recent Sunday afternoon. A little early for dinner, but there was definitely a steady stream of customers throughout our stay here. Ordering is done at the counter, you are given a number, then the food is brought out to your table. This location of BFT has about twenty or so tables inside, and a nice enclosed patio outside with another fifteen tables. The ceilings are high, so you get a feeling of openness. They have large HD TVs setup in the dining area, all tuned to sports. The food made it to our table in a timely manner. Let's see what we thought about our food at Baja Fish Tacos.

Before we got our food we checked out the salsa bar that is near the registers. The salsa here is not going to burn your taste buds off, but it does add a nice touch of flavor to whatever you put it on. I am usually more partial to red salsa, but the verde salsa here is my favorite of the two. The salsa bar also features pico de gallo, chopped onions, and other common salsa bar highlights.

Katie gets us started with a 2 Taco Combo Meal ($8.00). At Baja Fish Tacos they offer six different kinds of tacos. She selected the Blackened Fish Taco and an Ensenada Style Taco. She was really excited by the freshness of the fish and the way it was seasoned. The blacked fish had a burst of flavor, while the beer battered Ensenada style fish had a nice crunchy crust, while not taking away from fish's natural flavors. She also noted that she enjoyed the softer than usual corn tortilla used to hold everything in place. The rice and black beans earned praise from her as well.

As is the case when I am coming to a place for the first time, I kind of went a little overboard at Baja Fish Tacos. The first of my two plates was a 2 Taco Combo Meal ($8.00). This first plate featured both the Blackened Fish Taco and a Carne Asada Taco. I thought that the blackened fish taco had a good flavor, but the carne asada taco overshadowed it. This beef taco kind of reminded me of the tacos from the old Carmel's. I think it was the jack cheese used on it, that set my memory in motion. Just like Katie, I thought the tortillas used here served their purpose of holding everything together, while not getting in the way of the contents. If there was something wrong with these tacos, it is that there's too much lettuce piled on top of them. I took a handful of lettuce off each of my tacos, and had enough left over to make a small garden salad out of it. The beef was chopped in small pieces and was pretty tender. The rice was pretty plain tasting by itself, but I almost always mix my beans with my rice, and this boosted the flavor immensely. The pinto beans were a little on the runny side, but when mixed with the rice they thickened up a bit.

Just for good measure, I ordered two other tacos ala carte on my visit here. The Shrimp Taco ($4.00) was a pretty solid taco. There was a good amount of shrimp in this taco. They are sauteed in garlic and butter, then topped with cabbage, cotija cheese, and their baja sauce, which reminded me of a thinner version of crema. The Ensenada Taco ($3.00) was my fourth and final taco of the night. This taco used beer battered fish as a base, and then is topped with cabbage and baja sauce. This was a very good fish taco. The fish is not soggy, like at other fish taco places. I also thought they were pretty generous with the amount of fish in this taco. One of the best chain fish tacos I have had.

It is pretty rare that we go back to restaurants after we have reviewed them, but we have been back to Baja Fish Tacos three times since this first visit. I guess you can say that we are addicted. It helps that we have started walking around Lake Mission Viejo, and Baja Fish Tacos is a convenient place to have dinner after doing our three mile jaunts around the man made lake. The quality of the tacos here are a step above the other fast casual restaurants tacos. Yes, that means that they are also a little more expensive than the other fast casual restaurants too, but in this instance I think you get what you pay for. Glad we finally made it to Baja Fish Tacos, just wish it had not taken us so long to make it here.

Out of five marlins, (one of the most iconic fish that a fisherman could catch in Baja), five being best to zero being worst, Baja Fish Tacos gets 3 strong marlins.

For more information on Baja Fish Tacos, click here to go to their web site:

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