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Friday, December 26, 2008

Baja Fish Tacos - Review #2

Baja Fish Tacos
3664 S Bristol St
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 641-4836

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Reprinted here with permission from the Monster Munching blog is ElmoMonster's review of the Baja Fish Tacos in Santa Ana:

Contrary to what you may think, fish tacos are to be avoided at Baja Fish Tacos. Despite actually being deep-fried, they are inexplicably non-greasy and desperately lacking in flavor exactly because of it. To top it off, they're dry, lifeless. No amount of the restaurant's pico de gallo will ever hope to revive the sorry things.

The pico de gallo should be saved for a nobler purpose: as the amigo to the hot chips. For $2.25, you get a basket of chips scooped from a heated receptacle by your cashier, and an empty Styrofoam bowl. The bowl is your license to go loco at the salsa bar.

If you don't pay the premium, the salsa bar is free, but then you're relegated to those little thimbles they provide. And for the chips — they're the thin and homemade kind — you'll need as much as two heaping bowls. You'll savor every chunk of fresh tomato, every bit of spicy onion, and every fleck of cilantro, which may or may not get stuck in your teeth for hours of unintended embarrassment.

Besides the chips and salsa, I always get the Enchilada Combo ($7.60), wherein two rolled corn tortillas get stuffed with your choice of fish, shrimp, chicken, carne asada, or if you're into it, cheese. The pair gets draped in red chile sauce and smothered under a thin veneer of more cheese which is melted under a broiler until all is bubbly and oozy.

Carne asada is my protein of choice most of the time. And why not? It's essentially fire grilled steak, hacked to itty bitty chunks, with some of the edges burnt crisp almost to ember.

Its gritty char, the velvet of the cheese and the acid tang of the enchilada sauce meld into something worthy of a telenovela — cheesy, sultry, and full of scene-stealing actors.

Flanking it on both sides, the rice and beans aren't just mere supporting players. The beans are so blubbery it's almost soup; but as soon as you rake it up with a fork, it seems to congeal at the cooling touch of the metal — a sign that lard is probably the secret ingredient. Then there's the rice. It's as fluffy as cotton, almost as flavorful as the rice they serve with Hainan chicken.

These two sides, in my opinion, are the best rice and beans north of the Rio Grande and west of the Mississippi. When I'm not particularly hungry, I just order a bowl of it, scarf it in spoonfuls with plenty of the pico de gallo and call it a meal.

But try to come when you're famished enough to finish a whole combo enchilada plate, if only so that you can waddle out of the restaurant picking your teeth and groaning "Ay, mi estomago!"

Read Elmo's original review by clicking here.

Here's a photo of my chicken and shrimp tacos from the last time I ate at this location:



melissa said...

I'm seriously looking forward to trying this place (in Lake Forest) when my office moves a few blocks away next month. I just know it will be a regular spot for me.

Yours and Elmo's reviews much appreciated. ;)

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, I've been to this Santa Ana location a bunch but just never wrote it up. When I saw Elmo's review I asked him if I could reprint it, which he allowed, and I added my two photos to it. But be careful because this place gets VERY busy at lunch. And I've got my own review coming of a place that just opened up across the street from BFT.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. What do you think are the best fish tacos in LA?

Bel Air

ChristianZ said...

Did you click the link to my LA blog?

JB said...

Thanks, Christian...
as I commented after Elmo's post, the
Baja Bowl at Baja Fish Tacos...
...topped with that enticing Pico de Gallo... about the freshest, tastiest, healthiest hot meal you can get for the money in the immediate area.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the comment, JB. I don't want to take anything from Elmo's blog since he has a much bigger scope than I do and we don't consider ourselves in competition but a reader there said, "Thanks, Elmo, for bringing Baja Fish Tacos to the attention of the blogosphere." I thought, "Wait, I brought BFT to the attention of the blogosphere about a year and a half ago or more."

Anyways, yeah, they are pretty good and I still need to cover their Laguna location. I think the Baja Bowl may be their one item I've never tried so I'll have to try that next.

Judy "the foodie" said...

Happy third birthday to your blog! Way to go on building it into what it is today.