Baja Burrito continues being awesome
We’ve been running this site for about nine months now, and along the way we’ve talked about some of Nashville’s gems—its hidden dives, its top restaurants, its best products. One obvious omission has been that of Baja Burrito, the swanky joint in Berry Hill that was slinging out burritos and tacos long before the chains came to town. The reason for that was because, frankly, we just hadn’t eaten there. We are Nashville transplants, remember, and though we live only 10 minutes from Berry Hill and go there all the time, Baja Burrito was never on the agenda. Until last week.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on Baja Burrito’s menu or its processes or its legacy—I’m new to it, remember. I do know about its following and its reputation in Nashville, both of which preceded it and, honestly, spurred us to eat there in the first place. I know what it means to the city and to its neighborhood; I know how it built its legacy on the backs of flour tortillas and fresh ingredients, and now I know firsthand, finally, that the food is the reason people love to eat there.
The Sharks and the Jets of the quick-service burrito world have long been Qdoba and Moe’s. Having such a successful local burrito shop is really an anomaly for me; I’ve never lived in a city that claimed one of its own, much less claimed one with such a loyal following or established neighborhood roots. But that’s kind of a Nashville thing again, isn’t it? It isn’t Memphis barbecue or New Orleans seafood. The clamor is over a burrito.
And rightfully so. The simple truth is that Baja Burrito continues being awesome, day after tortilla-wrapped day. The concept is as simple as it is successful—when you walk in the door, you must make the most basic of food decisions: will I have a burrito, and if so, what will I put in it? My answer to this question upon my first trip last week was No. I opted for Baja’s fish tacos, which were, without any shade of hyperbole or exaggeration, the best I have ever had. You get three per order, with Mexican rice and black beans, and the flavor was so vibrant and fresh, the fish so delicately breaded, that the reward for risking my dinner over a quick-service fish-based dish was immediate. I can’t say enough good things about what I ate at this restaurant. It was cheap and fast and amazing.
I also have to say this. Successful local restaurants weave themselves into the fabrics of their neighborhoods by doing a few things well: they have to offer good food, the prices have to be fair, they have to make it easy, and they have reach back into the community through outreach and communication. Baja Burrito does all of these things. One of the most impressive is the last—when we tried to go there twice between Christmas and New Year’s, only to find each time that the restaurant was closed, it took me all of 10 seconds to get on their Twitter feed and see that the restaurant was closed til after the New Year. That’s how you do it. That’s how you leverage the social and digital tools we have to your customer’s benefit.
Jessica ordered the veggie burrito and had only good things to say about it. We both took advantage of Baja’s salsa bar, which is something I’ve found that is unique only to them, as is their option of having horchata or their own fruit tea (tea + lemon + orange) to drink. Good things must also be said for Nashville’s Joyful Cookie Company, which was founded last year and is featured prominently by Baja’s register. The PB original, which blends oats, peanut butter, dark chocolate and M&Ms, is as good as you would think something so kind to mix together all those great things would be. (Glancing at their website, it looks like you can order 1 cookie online, though I haven’t done it. If true, that’s pretty awesome, and makes me glad I live in 2012.)
Baja Burrito is like a small San Diego sidewalk joint that you would remember long after your vacation ended. It’s a treasure to have in Nashville. Really.
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