Out of the handful of Mexican restaurants in Hoboken, none emphasizes their fresh ingredients the way Baja does – and they’ve got plenty to brag about, including a wide variety of Tex-Mex dishes, more than 150 tequilas, and 20 flavors of frozen margarita.
The restaurant opened 24 years ago, the first Mexican eatery in Hoboken. From sautéed shrimp enchiladas to red snapper tacos to fresh guacamole, the menu offers everything a hungry patron could want, particularly someone who seeks quality food. This is a place you can bring your relatives or a date, but it’s still informal enough to drop by after work for happy hour.
The restaurant is owned by Mario Herrera and brothers Felix and Major Disla. They opened the eatery after their sister, Esther Ortiz, who now works there one day a week, took them to a Mexican restaurant in Texas, where she lived. At the time, they owned a manufacturing company in Union City. They decided to branch out.
We stopped in on a recent Friday to satisfy our craving for fresh Mex.
What we ate
Baja has a bar area in front and a large dining area in the back. It’s tastefully decorated but not pretentious. I sat in the back with Ortiz and asked her about the most popular and best menu items.
Ortiz said that a popular dish is the Baja special – which serves several people, and they usually take home a doggie bag. It shows off their fresh ingredients: fajita beef, chicken, shrimp, lettuce, tomatoes, poppers, onions, sour cream, and guacamole, with rice, beans and tortillas.
“That is a mountain of food,” Ortiz said. It’s $59.90, plus another 29.95 per person.
For her part, Ortiz loves starting with the queso fundito, a melted cheese casserole with Mexican sausage, shrimp, or sautéed vegetables. It’s boat full of warm Monterrey jack cheese and ingredients that can be spread on a thin tortilla. For $8.95, it was quite filling and warm – something to try after you come in from the cold this fall.
I was especially pleased to help her eat the unique, delicious dish called Camarones (shrimp) Acapulco. Several enormous breaded shrimp (each one could have been a meal!) were served with special ranchera sauce and cheese, along with chopped lettuce, onion, and tomato on the side. For $18.95, it’s highly recommended.
Fajitas are also popular – and always worth trying at a place that touts freshness. In fact, at Baja, they offer a whopping 13 types, including charbroiled chicken, charbroiled steak, Churrasco steak, and grilled vegetables. You fold them into a tortilla along with your other vegetables and you’re on the way to taste heaven. They come with guacamole, sour cream, and Mexican rice. I tried shrimp fajitas, and the shrimp were huge and juicy.
I also tried a steak enchilada. The steak inside the tortilla was tender and tasty, cooked with the cheese and spices. The menu boatsts 12 types of enchiladas with various sauces and spices, including mole.
In all, the restaurant offers more than 45 main courses with delectable ingredients – from chimichangas (a fried flour tortilla stuffed with cheese and topped with a tomato based sauce) to flautas to quesadillas to seafood dishes to salads. They also offer 16 appetizers ranging from jalapeno poppers to bean dip, plus scrumptious desserts.
Drinks and dessert
Like margaritas? They come in flavors including strawberry, kiwi, cherry, apricot, and vanilla. The coconut is quite popular, and you might need a spoon for all those delectable shavings! Mango is a very juicy option. At happy hour, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, a drink can be had for $5. The bar area is a great place to enjoy chips and a beverage after work.
The restaurant also offers more than 150 tequilas, perfect for the enthusiasts.
Baja also offers some surprisingly good desserts, including one of the best desserts I’ve ever had – tres leches cake. It’s a creamy sweet delight. Try it next time you’re eating out! They also serve up a chocolate banana, fried ice cream, sopapillas, and of course, homemade flan (camarel custard).
Brunch and specials
Brunch is served up from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Eggs, beans, bacon, and oh, those Bloody Marias!
The restaurant is open for lunch only on Thursday and Friday, from 11:30 to 3 p.m., and they’ve got lunch specials on the menu. There are also early bird specials Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Baja uses low cholesterol soybean oil, corn oil, and no lard. They also have a delivery service.
Baja is located at 104 Fourteenth St., near the top of Washington Street. For more information, call 201-653-0610.
“That is a mountain of food.”