Another of New Times "Best Restaurants" has closed, and will reopen as "Baja Cantina". What a great idea, opening a restaurant just like the one that just went out of business.
Another Lawyer buys a restaurant in South Florida. *Yawn*
I've had my eye on Baja's Thursday special, a "Tampiquena Steak" , a marinated skirt steak that's served with a cheese enchilada, guacamole and black beans and rice for quite a while, but i haven't been able to get up there on a Thursday. Today I made it.
The place is kind of odd for this East Boca neighborhood; it sort of stands alone. They have a small lot and there are free spots in the street; one of the few good things about Boca Raton is the free parking. At the entrance there is this old dude who just sits and smokes cigarettes all day; he's been there every time I've driven by. Inside is a surprise; it's very dark, if you walk in with sunglasses on you'll think that the place is pitch dark. It's a pretty authentic looking place; much cooler than I expected.
The place was pretty dead at 2:45, but they serve lunch until 4pm. The price of the special goes up $3 after 4, and it's not clear if you get any more. I ordered an iced tea and looked at the menu even though I knew what I was having. They brought some chips and salsa while I was waiting. They looked pretty authentic.
Unexpectedly, the salsa was lousy; way too sweet. I'm not sure what they put into it to make it sweet, but I didn't care for it at all. I prefer the stuff out of a jar to this stuff.
I ordered the skirt steak medium rare, but my server balked at the request, saying that it was really thin and they just make it one way; medium. She said she's ask and given the lack of other customers the cook agreed. I had a few chips and checked some stuff on my phone, and in about 10 minutes it came out.
This time, I understood what the server meant; this was a really skinny steak. Usually skirts have a thick part and a skinny side, but this one was skinny throughout. I wondered if they sliced them in half it was so thin. The "steak knife" they provided was the kind you might get at Trader Joe's; pretty flimsy, which made cutting it properly across the grain a challenge.
While the dish certainly looked authentic enough, I can't say that I really liked any of it. The steak had a vinegary taste; as if the marinade was light on oil and garlic. The guacamole had too much lime juice in it, and the cheese enchilada just had no taste at all for a big ball of cheese. If you've ever been to Mexico, you know not to order the beef, because they don't have good beef in Mexico. So in that way, this place is real authentic. The beef is bad.
I'm surprised at the food here, but I'm even more surprised that New Times named this place the best Mexican restaurant while they trashed Rocco's. The food at Rocco's is much better than this. I had a good skirt steak there.
But it is a cool place. Maybe just for drinks.