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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rockin' Baja Lobster - Review #1

Rockin' Baja Lobster
258 Harbor Dr S
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 967-6199

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Rockin' Baja - Logo

SPECIAL NOTE (November 28, 2009): This entry was originally a writeup (dated April 13, 2007) by a guest reviewer of the Rockin' Baja in Oceanside but it didn't have any pictures. Rockin' Baja has recently opened a location in Huntington Beach so I am adding my pictures from that location to the original review.

Checking in with her first guest review is "Brekkie Fan," who has a MySpace Blog on which she typically covers Orange County food. This review is about Rockin' Baja in Oceanside but there's also one in Newport Beach so much of what she says will apply to both locations.

After the race we are just dying of hunger. Danielle medaled in her division, so we waited around for the awards ceremony before heading out to the harbor. There were a plethora of options, but we were set on Rockin' Baja Lobster. I've been to the Newport Pier locale and really took to how relaxed it was. Leave your attitude at the host stand, this is a place to drink, relax, and have some seafood.

If the race didn't drain us enough - we chose to dine out on their patio and allowed the ocean breeze to mellow us out even more. There were margaritas and mojitos all around, and the margaritas won. We munched on the Baja Sampler Platter first. My palatte couldn't handle half the items, so I'll tell you what I did try. The lobster taquitos were all shell, little meat. Their cheese quesadilla was normal. The guac would've been excellent if we only recieved more chips in a timely manner.

Danielle and Carolyn both got themselves the Signature Baja Buckets. The seafood (whether it's slipper lobster tails, King Crab, Snow Crab, shrimp, or lobster) is flash fried first, then seasoned in a blend of Mexican spices before being served in a steel bucket. I remember Carolyn getting the Combo Shrimp & Slipper Tail bucket. That was a lot of work......and food!

I remember the guys getting some the the Certified Angus Beef Flat Iron Steak and loving it. I went the less messy route and attacked the Tres Tacos del Patron (San Felipe style) - a combo of batter dipped shrimp and slipper lobster tails inside flour tortillas with tomato, cilantro, cabbage, avocado and cilantro-lime sauce. The unlimited Caesar salad and fresh salsa bar was nothing to get excited over. Between that and the extra flour tortillas (or the ranchero beans and Mexican rice), we had enough filler for the rest of the day.

While the service was slower than I would've liked, I don't think you could beat the price. Very few items topped over $20. The 'beachy' music and colorful setting made things nice and low-key. Dessert didn't interest me. I just walked a few doors over and chilled at the local ice cream shoppe.

Thanks, Brekkie Fan!

Rockin' Baja Lobster
7811 Edinger Ave., Suite 100
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 892-3852

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Shrimp and bacon tacos

Baja Bucket



Lobster corn chowder

Epic burrito

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Del Taco's Secret Naugles Menu

Our other Naugles entries:

Naugles, RIP
Petition to Del Taco: Bring Back Naugles!
Naugles Bun Taco at Del Taco
Del Taco Orange Shake Reboot
Buns & Torts: Naugles Lives On

This is an OUTDATED entry. See HERE for information on the Naugles revival separate from Del Taco.

I might sound like a broken record when I keep talking about Naugles all the time but I keep thinking I've learned all there is to learn about them only to then find out some more information. The chain that spun off of Del Taco before getting "consumed" by Del Taco still has an enormous fan base. I always suspected this but never realized quite how big it was until I wrote a remembrance of them nearly four years ago and thought nothing more of it until I saw the hard-to-ignore numbers of people still searching for information on them. They also have plenty of fans at an unofficial Facebook fan page.

Naugles Menu 1971
Click to see a larger image of this Naugles trayliner menu circa 1971

Since that initial posting and several subsequent ones I have come to find out that a number of Naugles menu items can still be ordered at Del Taco but each has a somewhat different story to it (I must add that Del Taco does NOT consider themselves as having a "secret Naugles menu," per se, but that this is just my attempt to show how one can recreate the Naugles experience to some degree when eating at Del Taco; see here for information on a Naugles revival separate from Del Taco), so read on:

Taco Salad Cup

Naugles Taco Salad Cup at Del Taco

This is not the same as Del Taco's Deluxe Taco Salad cut in half but actually follows the Naugles formulation more closely by having secret sauce mixed in and no guacamole or sour cream. Squeeze on some of Del Taco's mild sauce to make it pretty much an exact match to Naugles' Taco Salad Cup. To order just ask for a "taco salad" or maybe a "small taco salad." They should have a button for this on their register but I did have one location say they couldn't do it for me (although I'm not ruling out that they might've misunderstood what I was getting at - UPDATE: I just went back to this same location and got the taco salad cup without a problem).

Cheese Burrito

Price Varies
Naugles Cheese Burrito and Bun Taco at Del Taco

This is one of the most fondly remembered Naugles items. You can try asking for a "cheese burrito" (and one Del Taco employee I encountered recently fondly remembered it herself) but they aren't likely to know what you are talking about. So basically just order any size bean and cheese burrito minus the beans plus sour cream. Some people remember it with red sauce and some people remember it with green sauce while some remember it with guacamole. I'd say customize it to your heart's content.

Bun Taco


The bun taco is also seen, unwrapped, in the prior photo with the cheese burrito and the Macho taco

The bun taco already has its own entry. I believe all Del Taco cash registers (including the remote ones used for when the drive-thru lines get long) have a button for the bun taco. It is not shown on their menu board but I have never had any trouble ordering it. Since my initial entry on this I have had numerous people tell me that they have also successfully ordered it. A co-worker of mine ordered two the other day for his lunch. This item originated at Naugles as the "taco meat sandwich" or the "taco burger."

Combo Cup

Naugles Combo Cup

Naugles Combo Cup

Another fondly remembered item the combo cup is basically an Atkins-friendly combo burrito in . . . drum roll, please . . . a cup, plus corn chips on the side so you can include the carbs as much or as little as you want to. At the location I have ordered this from they don't have a button for it but they did know what I was talking about (which was odd since this was at a Del Taco that opened long after Naugles closed down) and rang it up as a combo burrito and just told the cook to put the ingredients in a cup with a bag of chips on the side. Now, having said that, I have also recently learned that a Del Taco in Barstow does have the Combo Cup on their menu (read Sean Y.'s review at Yelp; note also that other reviewers have mentioned that some of the Barstow Del Tacos have items that most other Del Tacos don't but I have to add that a lot of the reviewers mention the Barstow Del Tacos as being the only ones to have tostadas but tostadas are a regular Del Taco item now; since tostadas appear on the 1971 Naugles trayliner menu then they too can be considered at least somewhat Nauglesy). I have also been told at one location that they sell combo cups but haven't ordered it from there yet.

Macho Bacon and Egg Burrito

Naugles Macho Bacon and Egg Burrito

I stumbled on this item while driving thru the Fountain Valley location on Brookhurst (likely the one former Del Taco CEO Shirlene Lopez used to work at and which was the Naugles I used to go to). When I pulled up to the menu board outside the guy taking my order said, "Would you like to try our Macho Bacon and Egg Burrito?" I said, "I don't see that on your menu board." He said, "It isn't there? People order it all the time." So I got it. It even has its own wrapper still as seen in the photos. My friend Phil said he gets it all the time and swore up and down it must be listed on the menu, but . . . it isn't, but you can still get it. It is a monster burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs, beans, bacon, cheese, lettuce and red and green sauce.

Macho Bacon and Egg Burrito

In one respect, any item at Del Taco with the "Macho" designation can be considered a Naugles item. That means macho tacos, macho burritos, macho nachos, etc. They may not be exactly the way Naugles made them but they're still pretty close.

"The Green Bean Machine"

Price Varies
The Green Bean Machine from Del Taco

No, this was never the official name for any Del Taco or Naugles item. It's a name I came up with to describe a Del Taco Egg and Cheese Burrito with beans added and green sauce used in place of red sauce, which makes it the same as the Naugles Egg and Bean Burrito. I guess I should just call it the Naugles Egg and Bean Burrito but I like my name for it better. (Thanks to @sheryllalexande for the idea.)

And here's a couple items from the not-so-secret menu:



It might be hard to establish if tostadas appeared at Naugles first or at Del Taco first but I've seen people say they miss the tostadas at Naugles and then go on to say something that indicates that they are unaware that Del Taco has them so just be aware that they are back on the Del Taco Value Menu now.

Bean and Cheese Cup


This is similar to the Bun Taco in that all Del Tacos have it (heck, it's just beans and cheese . . . and a little red sauce. . . . in a cup) but it started with Naugles and is even mentioned in the Del Taco Nutritional Information Guide (apparently it's really high in fiber). It is always available, and I could be wrong but I think it only actually shows up on the menu when other Value Menu items aren't crowding it out.

What's Left?

This all begs the question: If so many Naugles items are still available then what Naugles items are currently impossible to get at a Del Taco? It is hard to exactly quantify an answer due to several complicating factors:
  1. Naugles itself evolved over the years (i.e., it didn't have exactly the same menu when it was bought out as when it started);
  2. the Naugles menu and Del Taco menus were never drastically different in the first place, having, in effect, "grown up" as sister chains often trading key personnel; and,
  3. many Naugles locations were franchises where the owners of that particular location had a lot of say in the menu choices they made available so there may be items that people remember a particular location having that others didn't

Now having said that, there's still gotta be a few Naugles items that are not likely to be procured from any Del Taco. After extensive research all I can really turn up is the huevos rancheros seen listed on an old order ticket in the photo section of the Naugles Tribute Facebook page and the Ortega burger, which was a Naugles item that lasted as long as Naugles was around. And maybe it wouldn't be too hard for a Del Taco cook to fry up some corn tortillas (from the Tacos del Carbon maybe?) some eggs over-easy, and put some red or green sauce on it (anyone want to try and order this?) but I don't think Del Taco keeps Ortega chiles on hand with which they could make an Ortega burger. Of course there's also Naugles-specific drinks such as hot fudge shakes, pineapple shakes, and root beer shakes and floats that Del Taco could bring back. UPDATE: There's also Naugles enchiladas that Del Taco could bring back.

Why is Del Taco dragging their heels?

It is hard to guess why Del Taco isn't jumping at this opportunity. It could be that after the merger the executives in power at Del Taco just wanted to sweep Naugles under the rug (see comment on Facebook Tribute page timestamped May 25 at 9:04am) incorrectly assuming the fervor for Naugles would die down within a few months or perhaps a couple years. More recent regimes might've been open to it but may have just not thought of it. With the popularity of the Internet now it is easier for people to voice their opinions and broadcast them than it used to be. Even then, when Del Taco can't track hits to their site based on a 'Naugles' keyword search due to the name not appearing on their website (except in Flash form that is undetectable by search engines) they may have simply been unaware of the solid Naugles fanbase out there. Now with new leadership the new CEO, Paul Murphy, could be open to giving the fans what they want. It may or may not depend on how much personal meaning it has to him.

Another issue is that Del Taco may be worried that promoting the Naugles brand will dilute the reputation of their own brand but they would not be creating competition for themselves so much as opening up another revenue stream. Carl's Jr. successfully pulls off the same thing with their Green Burrito co-branding.

Another thing is that with many of the Naugles and Del Taco items already being conceptually quite similar then perhaps Del Taco wonders if they can pull off a Naugles revival without the exact Naugles recipes, which may now be unattainable. Then again, they may not be.

Of course, we don't know if maybe they ARE working on reviving some of the Naugles legacy, in which case we just wait. Sometimes these things just take time.

Del Taco still has a huge opportunity to capitalize on the enormous amount of passion people have for Naugles even some two decades later. The anticipation we've seen for the comebacks of Bob's Big Boy and Farrell's should not go unnoticed. With relative ease Del Taco could whip up a Naugles sub-menu and possibly even put Naugles branding outside their stores in much the same way Carl's Jr. does with Green Burrito. The amount of traffic they'd get from people driving by and seeing Naugles signage would not be something to sneeze at. If they miss this opportunity then they are sitting on a gold mine without realizing it but at least I'll be able to say I tried my best to help them realize it.

Please leave a comment if you already get some of these items, if you know of any other ones, if you've tried to order any of these and have had trouble, if you have information as to certain locations having or not having a particular item, etc.

Naugles Signage
This is only one of our several entries on the old Naugles chain. We have LOTS of info for people interested in Naugles and its possible comeback. Our other Naugles entries are:

Naugles, RIP
Petition to Del Taco: Bring Back Naugles!
Naugles Bun Taco at Del Taco
Del Taco Orange Shake Reboot
Buns & Torts: Naugles Lives On

Or CLICK HERE to read all the entries at once.