Eats, Chews and Leaves: Baja Surf Grill benefits from lowered expectations

Culture Food | Drink

Do you have a personal mantra? Some words to live by? Perhaps there’s a Katy Perry song that spoke to you in a moment of weakness? Don’t be embarrassed — I have one as well (a certain outlook on life, not a song, although I’m partial to “Last Friday Night”).

I set low expectations for new experiences. It’s really cut down on disappointment.

When my roommates and I decided to purchase a Groupon for dinner at Baja Surf Grill, I knew low expectations were in order. I know, not the greatest attitude, but stick with me here. In the past, my experiences with discounted meals have been less than satisfactory. But Baja Surf Grill managed to change this preconception.

Tucked in on the ground floor of an office building on Yates Street, the restaurant takes on a cave-like setting despite large square footage. This illusion is due to two floors of seating. If you visit, snag a table upstairs to avoid the bustle near the entrance.

Baja Surf Grill promises to transport diners to the southern California Baja region. This promise has translated to plenty of brick wall, sun art (literally just a lot of suns everywhere) and gauzy drapes hanging all over. I’ve travelled through Baja California, and the décor of the restaurant, while not authentic, works.

The Groupon also dictated our menu: Chips and salsa as an appetizer. Salsa was the standard red with chunks of onion; chips were fried in-house, but tasted on the verge of stale.

The entrée was chicken fajitas, which actually somewhat impressed me. It consisted of two sizzling plates filled with a bell pepper and chicken sauté, beans and rice alongside a platter of warm tortillas and ample toppings like shredded lettuce, cheese and tomato.

I thoroughly enjoyed the DIY aspect of the meal, but still had some concerns. The beans weren’t cooked enough  (still hard to the bite), and overall, the food needed to be warmer.

Our table also sprang for a few drinks, seeing as our meal cost less than usual. Both Coronas and glasses of sangria were on special for $5 the night we visited. If I ever return, I’d order the sangria again, which avoided the usual sangria mistake of being too sweet.

I also noted the restaurant was eerily quiet. No loud music — make that any music — could be heard.

For those who also have low expectations, Baja Surf Grill may be worth a visit. For those looking for late-night eats, it’s worth noting that this restaurant reopens from 2 a.m. until 5 a.m. every Friday and Saturday. For everyone else, a road trip to Baja California is a better plan. I hear Katy Perry may have a song about that area.


2 out of 5 stars

Baja Surf Grill
535 Yates Street

Sunday to Thursday: 4:30–10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 4:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.; 2–5 a.m.