In our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at Baja Grill at 5923 Kavanaugh Boulevard. Click here to read more in this series.
The location of a planning meeting is important. The space needs to foster creativity, but still be calm enough to allow clear thinking. If you can find those necessities – and add cheese dip – you really have something. This week we had to do some serious strategizing and Baja Grill in the Heights provided the ambience and the food.
Baja Grill has some interesting roots as a central Arkansas food truck turned permanent location on the corner of Kavanaugh and North University. The restaurant’s website describes their food as “Mexi-Cali” with a “Southern fusion and flair.” The restaurant was full and the air conditioning was cold and more than welcome after the short walk from our parking space. There was room on the patio, but it was just too hot to sit outside. We opted for the short wait and were seated in less than 5 minutes. We ordered drinks and cheese dip.
The menu is small, but everything on it is made from scratch and consists of a carefully planned taste experience. You can order any entrée in any of the three styles: taco, burrito, or quesadilla. I was excited that everyone ordered something different. Dining again with Patrick, he ordered two Baja Beef Tacos, which the menu described as “slow-smoked shredded beef topped with Baja sauce, pico de gallo and fresco cheese.” PJ DeBruler, our production manager, ordered the Baja Beef Burrito. It was similar to the taco, but bigger, wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered with white cheese dip. Having been to Baja before, I wisely ordered one Blackened Shrimp Taco. Inside the taco, marinated shrimp that had been blackened on the grill was served on a bed of dry slaw, topped with tequila-lime aioli, fresco cheese and fresh mango salsa. The plating was beautiful and each item was spilling over with ingredients. The tacos are so stuffed, they give you two tortillas. You can make two tacos out of one, if you wish. So, when Pat ordered two, he was actually getting four tacos. I cleaned my plate, but both PJ and Pat requested boxes. Pat couldn’t resist and ate his leftovers for an afternoon snack.
Despite the amazing food at Baja Grill, we did manage to get some work in as well. Sometimes at a work lunch, it is a little disrupting to have the staff constantly filling water glasses or asking if you need anything. Though the staff was very attentive, they managed to not be intrusive. The difference was that they genuinely wanted your meal and your experience to be perfect.