43-45 Glebe Point Rd
Glebe, NSW 2037
I’m a sucker for a great Mexican meal, and if I were to be entirely honest, I would say that I haven’t had one since coming to Sydney. Despite my almost bottomless optimism when it comes to food, I’m actually finding myself feeling rather flat, after 18 solid months of being told that good Mexican food doesn’t exist in Sydney, and seeing nothing to the contrary. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to having my taco fix confined to the times when I go back to Melbourne.
If I were to adjust my expectations a little however, there’s still plenty of Mexican-ish food to be had around Sydney. The most popular one out of the bunch would probably be Baja Cantina – a brightly-coloured and well-rated eatery that serves up Californian-styled Mexican food.
Even though it was a Friday night, I was still taken aback by how busy Baja Cantina was. There was not a single unreserved table inside, despite the fact that I had shown up mere minutes after opening time. Instead, I was guided into the courtyard out back, which turned out to be no hardship. Festively lit with hanging lights and warmed by plenty of portable heaters, I almost preferred this to sitting in the crowded restaurant.
I’m a total sucker for jalapeño poppers, or as they’re called here, Jalapeño Flamers ($8, 6pcs), and I’ll always go out of my way to order them. These weren’t amazing by themselves, as the batter was too heavy and there wasn’t quite enough cheese in the middle. With that said though, they were still tasty, the contrast between the smooth, creamy cheese and the crispy, tangy jalapeños always a winner.
Every table was ordering fajitas, and whilst they looked amazing, I was more keen on seeing if the Tacos with House-Made Chorizo and Potato ($21.9) were legit.
These were a bit of a mixed bag. The combination of fatty chorizo and soft potato was deliciously smoky and spicy, and the lettuce added a welcome crunch. On the other hand, the tortilla was horrible, with none of the fragrance or texture you get from a fresh, high-quality corn tortilla, and split apart the moment I picked it up. The tacos were rounded out with some spiced rice, and a serve of rich, creamy refried beans for a generous meal.
I was hanging out for the Tamale ($23.9), but these were once again not exactly what I had hoped for. The steamed dumpling was dense, stodgy, and any fragrance and sweetness from the corn was completely obscured by the deluge of tangy salsa verde.
The redeeming factor of this was the centre of pulled pork, which was both generous and flavoursome, the saltiness contrasting well with the sharpness of the salsa.
I was (somewhat unrealistically) hopeful going into Baja Cantina, but as I had feared, this was once again not the hub for authentic Mexican food that I had dreamed of. With that said, I actually enjoyed my meal here, and can definitely see myself making a return visit. The food was bold and flavoursome, and although it was far from authentic, it was still yum. I’m keen to come back to try the popular fajitas, and the queso dipping sauce, which I hear is some of the best around.
Rating: 12.5/20 – not quite mexico.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.