Friday, August 30, 2013

Burrito Battles: Baja Fresh Mexican Grill

The potential is there for something special at Baja Fresh Mexican Grill. It begins with free chips & salsa with every order. What kind of salsa is entirely up to you: Baja Fresh offers a salsa bar, with six different kinds of salsa (very cool.) After that, a lot depends on which direction you take with your entree... burritos, fajitas, tacos, perhaps a taquito? Choices abound; but burrito lovers beware, you won't be able to go along for the ride.

By ride, I'm referring to the Subway/Chipotle assembly-line method of preparing your burrito. At Baja Fresh, you choose your meat, style and that's it. Perhaps I've been spoiled all these years; but I like pointing to what I want, and watching it made before my eyes. I settled on a Burrito Mexicano (rice, vegetarian black or pinto beans, freshly made hot or mild salsa, fresh onions & cilantro wrapped in a warm flour tortilla with your favorite protein.) I asked for no beans, but was never asked about what kind of salsa I wanted (and wound up with none.) Fire-grilled, all white chicken won out over fire-grilled shrimp for my protein. Evidently, the term "fire-grilled" must poll very well. At just $6.79 (including free chips & salsa) I was in no position to complain about cost.

Complimentary Chips & Salsa

I went to the salsa bar and grabbed a tiny container (grab as many as you want; but I wish the cups were bigger, especially when it comes to dipping.) Chips had no salt, and were dangerously close to stale. Salsa was fresh, but very messy (hmm... I wonder if bigger containers would help?) It's hard to complain, when you consider it's free; but...

Burrito Mexicano

About five minutes later, my number was called and I collected my burrito (thankfully void of foil wrapping.) The tortilla was loosely assembled, and had quite a bit of overlap (too much bread.) Was this done, so I could add my own salsa? I doubt it; but if it was... it's a terrible idea. I had a mess before I took my first bite. Chicken was dry and flavorless. I went back to the salsa bar and added some to the burrito, which helped a little bit... but not enough to change the bland flavor profile. Baja Fresh simply has to season their chicken: Perhaps fire-grilled is code for tasteless?

Handling a burrito is dependent on how it's wrapped... and mine was wrapped poorly. Couple that with bland ingredients, and you have a near-disaster on your hands (not to mention chicken, rice and salsa... or whatever else falls out of your burrito.) Love the price, like the concept, hate the execution.