Monday, July 4, 2016

Baja Cantina ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Baja Cantina is the latest entry for the loosely knit local Baja chain that is slowly proliferating throughout NE Tarrant County. We recently updated the Funky Baja's entry, and if you search further into the blog, you'll find entries for Peace Burger and Dive Bar in Grapevine, as well as Baja Mex Grill in Watauga, both of which need updating. We've also been to Baja's Bar and Grill in Southlake, but that was many years ago, and we never reported back on it. Let's see how the new place stacks up.

Food: If you've been to any of the Baja's elsewhere, then you'll find Baja Cantina is right in line with the others. We've always enjoyed their version of Tex Mex, and we were quite pleased with our first foray here. The chips were good, light and crisp, but not quite as corn tasting as I recall from the other establishments. The default red sauce they bring out is excellent, with a nice kick, filled with garlic, pureed tomatoes, and chilies. We asked for a hotter one (of course we did), and out came this mean looking red, which is their habanero sauce. It didn't look or taste much like a habanero to us, but it was excellent all the same, and made a nice complement to the table sauce. It's a $1 extra, but worth it. Mrs. RJG ordered the Machaca, a favorite breakfast staple of her Sonoran homeland. She loved the papitas (potatoes), eggs, beans, and finely ground meat which is the namesake portion of the dish. Think dried pencil shavings of ground beef, and you have an idea of the texture. I tried the cheese enchiladas with fajita chicken on top (I forget the name of the dish). It was with 2 enchiladas, one topped with a wonderful tomatillo, which wasn't as sour as most in the area, so that was a definite plus. The other was smothered in a creamy queso.  What was so nice about it, is the dish was served sizzling hot, so that by the time I was lapping up the final bites, the cheese still was pliable, and hadn't congealed, which is a common problem with this dish. The fajita chicken was appropriately grilled and flavorful, though a couple of the strips (but not all) were a tad tough, and probably the only demerit for the entire experience. The rice was excellent, with finely ground carrots. And the beans were a cut above as well, with a smoky flavor. And again the hot temperature assists with the quality of these dishes. We're excited to come back and try other entrees.

Drink: Yes! Now this is one of the best frozen margaritas I've had in a long, long time. Smooth, with a whopping tequila kick, and fantastic flavor. Not too sweet, sour, or watery. Just perfect. Mrs had it on the rocks, and claimed a similar high quality. When we got the bill, we realized perhaps why. $10 a pop. That's pretty steep, but you get what you pay for I guess. If they keep the quality up, I'll gladly pay it, but if they don't, they're asking for complaints. Of course they have a full bar as well, and a nice selection of Mexican beers. I didn't think to ask about craft beer, but this isn't really a place that needs it honestly.

Location: On  the west side of Precinct Line, just south of Davis, near the Super Walmart complex. This was originally a Beef O'Brady's, that we frequented a couple of times many years ago, but wasn't very distinct to be honest. When they left town, there was an interregnum period where a place existed called "Sports Bar". Or something dumb. I couldn't find a reason to go with a name like that. Baja Cantina I think is the perfect fit for the area, and should do well in this location, with only Mi Pueblo to provide local competition. They're pretty distinct from each other, so I think they both will thrive. The interior decoration took Beef o' Brady's and "Baja-ized" it. It's more open, and made to feel like an oasis on the beach. There's the hanging light bulbs, stuffed fish, and nets everywhere. And a bar area. There's also the now familiar Mexican wrestling theme as well. Weird culture that one is... Anyway, very welcoming place.

Rating: 4.0. Only one visit so far, but based on prior experience with the other Baja's, the rating is likely to stand.

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