Mexican food is certainly hard to come by in Australia. Wait… I take that back. GOOD Mexican is hard to come by. We’ve tried many places and some have been decent. Luckily we’ve stayed away from all the really bad ones thanks to reviews by other American Expats warning us of the crap quality. So it was a very pleasant surprise when Andrew took me to a yummy Mexican restaurant on Valentines day. Yes, Valentines day… I know this blog is 3 months too late. But I’m in restaurant review mode so take what you can get, ok??:)
Baja Cantina is a little restaurant in Glebe and it’s really good if you like California/Baja style Mexican food. I’m not going to say this is REALLY authentic Mexican, because I really don’t think it is. But it tastes a lot like authentic California Mexican which makes me very happy. The first time we went we went we ordered way too much food. 2 things of chips and salsa, nachos and fajitas. The fajitas are really good! They come with all the necessary sides including cheese and guacamole which are usually only offered if you are willing to pay for it. The nachos were super bad for us but super yummy in our tummies! They even have black beans which are hard to find here. I asked for a side of limes and they brought me 6 slices… practically a whole lime. I was in heaven! Oh, and did I mention the delish Sangria and cheap coronas? Of course those made the experience even better!
So we went again a few weeks ago with a couple of Andrew’s friends and the food and service was just as good. Wait, did I say the service was good? Why yes, yes I did. Amazing considering this is an Australian restaurant I’m writing about. Does it sound bad if I say the great service is probably due to the fact that 90% of the servers are American? It probably does sound a bit bad to the Aussies, but even Andrew agrees with that one.
I still think it’s funny when we go to Mexican with Australians and they pronounce quesadillas the way they are actually spelled (quay so dilas) and tortilllla. I don’t think I’d be able to work there. I’d constantly be correcting people and/or laughing when they butcher the Spanish language. You really can’t blame the Aussies though… they weren’t brought up with an abundance of everything Spanish like we were in California.
Another thing I find interesting when dining with Aussies at a Mexican restaurant is trying to explain the difference between fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas and burritos. Go ahead, think about it. If you had to explain the difference, how would you do it? “Well this one is folded up in a tortilla with stuff inside but there is no sauce, this one is folded up in a tortilla with cheese and sauce on top, and this one you eat like tacos but the stuff comes on a sizzling plate.” Really, it is hard to try to explain the difference to someone. It’s one of those things you either just know and understand or you dont.
Now for my expert review on a scale of 1-10 stars
Decor: 7 – it was cute but nothing really stands out for me as being extra special
Value: 7 – I’m basing this on the cost of most Mexican food in Australia. Compared to other places, Baja Cantina is fairly cheap (especially the coronas).
Service: 8.5 – this place probably has some of the best service I’ve seen in Australia
Taste: 8.5 – I really have minimal complaints. Everything from the tortillas to the beans to the sangria is great. But they do lose 1.5 stars for having mediocre guacamole and bland rice.
We’ll definitely be heading to Baja Cantina any time we need our fix of Mexican food!!
**While I’m on the topic, I also suggest Flying Fajita Sisters in Glebe for Taco Tuesday. They have great 2 dollar tacos and their Sangria (in my opinion) is even better than Baja Cantina… especially the white wine Sangria. Yum!**