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Downtown’s New Baja Fresh

Even though Baja Fresh is a chain restaurant, it’s a nice addition to the 3rd and D Street corner in downtown Davis. Since it’s only one block from my office, it’s now one of my convenient lunchtime choices.

Baja Fresh opened last month, bringing with it a new look to the corner and a new perspective on Davis. I love it when new restaurants open in town and you can sit in a window and look onto the downtown from a different vantage point. Hey, when you have lived here practically your entire life, any little change is exciting! So, after ordering, I sat at one of the bistro-style dining bars and gazed at Café Bernardo from the outside as opposed to my usual barstool inside.

The staff was incredibly nice and accommodating, at least the nice lady who helped us. It was freezing outside, so I ordered the tortilla soup, one of my favorite dishes that usually turns out to be a letdown. There isn’t one place in Davis I can order tortilla soup and enjoy it, so I was expecting the same results. I was pleasantly surprised that it was satisfying. Not great, but good — hot, cheesy, with a dark hearty broth with a little kick to it, fresh avocado and tender chicken. It’s quite filling even though it’s a cup, so I was glad that I had only ordered one Baja-style, a la carte taco to go with it.

The tacos are good, much smaller that Chipotle’s. The chips are free with an order and the salsa bar proved satisfying as well. There are about 4-5 salsas to choose from. The Pico de Gallo is full of fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic (good thing I have a toothbrush and toothpaste at my office), the green tomatillo salsa was just strange and I love tomatillo salsa, but my favorite was the medium heat roasted salsa they call Salsa Baja. It looks dark like black beans, so I almost didn’t try it, but it has a strong smoky flavor with a bit of sweetness and no black beans to be found as far as I could tell.

On my second visit the next day to introduce my soup-loving father to their tortilla soup (he loved it), I met owner Raj Dhillon, a bay-area businessman. His daughter Puleed Dhillon and son Dalgot Dhillon both attend UC Davis, so he opened his second Baja Fresh here in Davis for them to help run. His first Baja Fresh is in Danville.

Raj said that he’s pleased with the reception in Davis to his new restaurant. “We had a soft opening on December 17th without much advertising to get the staff up and running. All of the business we have now is walk-in and word of mouth.”

The restaurant was clean, the service fast, and there were no long lines like you find at Chipotle. So, if you happen to be downtown and in the mood for some quick Mexican food, you might want to give Baja Fresh a try.

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill is located at 237 D Street and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. You can them by calling 530-792-7000.

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