January 2013 update: There's been one significant change since we last wrote about Funky Baja's: They have joined the craft beer revolution, and are the first "chain" here in Northeast Tarrant to really focus on our DFW beer culture. I say chain, only in that Funky Baja's is owned by the same folks who own the various Baja Grill's, Peace Burger, and now Mo'Fish - which we are certain to cover very soon. I'm not sure all of the outlets are participating in this, but at least Funky Baja's, Mo'Fish and Peace Burger are. I consider this an exciting development!
Funky Baja's Cantina opened in May just as we were heading to Denver for the summer. The RJG's Mom has an apartment nearby, and I was very intrigued on what the place was going to be about. My guess was it would be another Fuzzy's Taco Shop type establishment that are (fortunately) popping up everywhere. And, as it turns out, I was exactly right.
Now it's interesting to note that Funky Baja's took over the old Novrozsky's place, that we wrote about well over 3 years ago. The reason it is interesting is I felt one of the reasons Novrozsky's closed was it didn't understand the space it was in. While that is also true for Funky Baja's, I will throw out a couple of addendum's. One is that Keller is growing up, as is all of Northeast Tarrant county. For example, Keller is about to add a couple of taverns to the Old Town area. Texas has always struggled with its Baptist/temperance/prohibition past, but as time has gone on more and more laws are going down in favor of those who enjoy a nice, legal alcoholic beverage in a public setting. These newer places are not the stinky dive taverns my Uncle loved to frequent - an unwelcome place filled with ne're-do-wells eyeing everyone with distrust and a cigarette dangling from their mouth. Far from it - in fact, these newer places are filled with women and children. The day we were there, it was ladies' day out apparently and the restaurant was packed - and 90% of the patrons were women. Second is that Funky Baja's took the half-baked sports bar attempt by Novrozsky's, and finished the job. It's darker, with more TV screens, and a real sitting bar.
OK, so we have a sports bar so far. Big deal - they're pretty much a dime a dozen these days. So what's going to be the differentiator? The food of course. And here is where Funky Baja's really scores points with the RJG. To me there are three kinds of taco shops: 1) Fast food ground beef crunchy style; 2) Street tacos / taquerias; and 3) The high end, high quality ingredient taco. 3) is really an extension of 2). Honestly, I love all 3 types. So in that third category, we have a very fast growing cottage industry - especially here in DFW. Fuzzy's has become the big name, while Yucatan established themselves as a higher end alternative. I'd say Funky Baja's has the higher quality taco of Yucatan (though slightly less priced), with more of a Fuzzy's atmosphere mixed with a traditional bar. To date I've tried the Fishman taco (beer battered), the El Santo (chipotle chicken) and the Blue Demon (spicy pork adobada). Both the fish and especially the chicken were outstanding, whereas the pork was a bit fatty and tough (sigh). It wasn't perfect, but most restaurants have specialties I fall for. I can't wait to try the many others they have to offer to go with the fish and chicken above. While the tacos don't really need the extra flavor, I do wish they provided a really hot habanero sauce like Fuzzy's and Yucatan have.
Overall, we're delighted Funky Baja's is here. I can tell it's going to be a regular stop for Mr. & Mrs. RJG!