I’m a really busy and important guy, and I very rarely have time to cook, so I’m always looking for places to get some tasty, unique food at a reasonable price.
That’s a lie. I generally have very few important things to do, and I cook almost every night. However, a few days ago, I dozed off while I was grilling some herb-crusted Chilean sea bass and burned it. OK, that’s a lie, too. It was Spam with pineapple rings. The economic recovery hasn’t quite landed on our house yet. Point is, I burned it.
We decided to go out, because we were kind of hungry, it was getting late, and like I said, we’re still doing the recession thing around here. So after a bit of deliberation, we decided to switch up Hawaiian Night for Mexican Night. We blew out the tiki torches and drove to Baja Bistro on Electric Road.
“It’s like Mexican Subway,” the girl behind the counter said, correctly interpreting my bewildered and slack-jawed gape. Basically, you order a burrito, a quesadilla, tacos, or a salad, and then you just move on down the line, picking and choosing what kind of ingredients to add. Beef or chicken, black or pinto beans, rice, grilled onions, cheese, jalapenos, corn, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and so on.
We carried our order to the first table in sight – eager to test out our burrito and quesadilla design skills – and once I determined that the brightly-colored metal iguana staring down at me from a nearby pillar probably wasn’t planning to attack, we dug in.
My Baja Nachos were a lot of fun to “make,” and even more fun to eat. They came with both shredded cheddar and with spicy, creamy nacho cheese, and the helpful counter folk heaped them high with black beans, mesquite chicken, sour cream, pico de gallo, jalapenos and guacamole. I washed them down with a bottle of Dos Equis Amber, toasting the memory of my charred and ruined (and fictional) sea bass.
After I was finished grabbing all of the good nachos and leaving my wife to scrabble for dry chips, we moved on to our entrees. My Baja burrito was stuffed with beef, rice, pinto beans, cheese, fresh jalapenos (they offer both fresh and pickled, which I thought was a nice touch), and pico de gallo. The ingredients were all pleasantly fresh, and though the fresh jalapenos lacked a little of the fire I’d been hoping for, there was a bottle of habanero sauce on the table. I had a drop or two, while my wife added quite a bit more to her quesadilla, shaking her head at me and mocking my lack of fortitude.
As we were leaving, we noticed a little alcove to the side of the front doors with a few tables and a fireplace, and made a note that the next time we came in, we were going to stake out a spot there. Kind of cozy and quieter than the main dining room. It was good to see a few regulars having dinner, and to see some families come in. There are a lot of cheap, fast options for people to find a bite to eat in Roanoke, but why not keep your dollars in town? That seems like a pretty good way to fight the recession here on the home front, and to get some sea bass back on the grill.