What is the best way to keep cool this summer? Drink sangria. And at Baja, there's plenty of it. On a recent visit, patrons throughout the intimate dining room of the popular Mexican eatery in uptown Hoboken had either small or large pitchers of sangria next to their meals. The traditional Latin-American iced drink, typically made with red wine, sugar, fruit juice, seltzer and fruit slices, tastes sweet and it is very refreshing. Baja is one of the best places for sangria in Hudson County.
Conveniently located near the corner of 14th and Washington streets, Baja offers a wide variety of quality Mexican dishes and margaritas. The restaurant is divided in two parts. The bar area is on one side, and experienced bartenders can mix a variety of drinks from a selection of more than 150 types of tequila.
The dining room is in the next room, and the tables are spaced out enough for patrons to enjoy their privacy. There's a colorful mural of traditional Mexican Indians on the wall and the windows in the dining area overlook the prosperous uptown Hoboken intersection, which has become a nightlife hotspot.
"Our location is the best. We're not even 10 minutes from the Holland Tunnel, and customers leave with the feeling that they want to come back," said Baja manager Esther Ortiz.
For almost 15 years, the team of Mario Herrera, Felix Disla and "Major" Disla have been running a restaurant that initially struggled to find its clientele, and now with newfound city development and influx of tourists has a wait on the weekends to be seated.
"When we first opened, we saw a steady flow of customers," Ortiz said. "During the last several years we've been very busy with business."
The traditional cuisine is prepared by the duo of executive chefs Laticia Orzuma and Ramon Mosqueda. Their specialties include: fajitas ($13.95), sizzling strips of charbroiled beef served with grilled onions, tomatoes and peppers; bistec Mexicano ($13.95), cuts of charbroiled steak sautéed with diced tomatoes, onions peppers and Cajun style spices served on a sizzling platter; red snapper al ajillo ($15.95), prepared in a garlic-butter-lemon sauce topped with pepper and grilled onions; and the famous Baja special ($41.90), beef and chicken fajita marinated in Mexican sauce with shrimps, served with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, sour cream, guacamole and four soft warm tortillas.
Baja specializes in fresh ingredients.
The servers are attentive and knowledgeable of the menu.
Fajitas and burritos
I began my meal at Baja with a small order of fajitas ($6.50) and a coconut Margarita with no salt. The sliced beef was charbroiled and served with lots of cheddar cheese, beans, guacamole and a modest portion of sour cream. Very tasty and enough for two, the fajitas can also be ordered spicy upon the customers request.
Other appetizers include six kinds of quesadillas, black bean soup ($5.50), cheese and beans nachos ($6.50), jalapenos poppers ($5.95), and bean dip ($4.95).
After the fajitas I enjoyed a burrito Texano ($10.50). This large, almost intimidating dish, was prepared with well-seasoned ground steak and lots of garlic and cilantro sauce. A little bit of rice accompanied the burrito and with a touch of hot sauce, it was a perfect traditional Mexican entrée.
I also tried the chicken taco ($5), served with shredded chicken with cheese, lettuce and tomato. The hard corn tortilla allowed for the taco's contents not to fall out. I finished my meal with fried ice cream, which I shared with a friend. The creamy vanilla dessert was served in a hard sugar taco shell. And I topped it off with a cold glass of red sangria, extra strong.
Baja Mexican Restaurant is located at 104 14th St. in Hoboken. The kitchen closes at 10:30 p.m. during the week and 11:30 p.m. on the weekends. They cater private parties and offer parking.
For information call (201) 653-0610. Baja's owners will open another location in downtown Jersey City this fall. q