Mexican-style soft tacos, “street tacos,” have popped up all over Santa Fe, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes though, I’m in the mood for the more Americanized version. You know, the type in a crispy shell, topped with lettuce, yellow cheese, tomato, and onion. It’s one of those tastes I grew up with, and no doubt many of you did as well. Purists might thumb their noses at this rendition of tacos but done right, they’re delicious. I think Baja Tacos gets them right, and apparently, plenty of other people agree. When last I stopped in, the drive-through had a dozen cars snaking around it, and plenty of us in line inside. That line always moves quickly though.
It’s a formula that works. I remember stopping in for my first Baja Tacos tacos and enchiladas when I moved to Santa Fe in 1980. The joint was already a dozen years old. The big change was a few years back when the owner relocated from the original compact cinder-block building, where you had to eat outside or in your car. The business moved across and up Cerrillos Road by a few blocks and re-purposed an old Wendy’s. It’s still as simple as can be, but with plenty of tables, a cheerful staff, and super-friendly prices. You order at the counter from an extensive menu.
My go-to items here are the well-seasoned shredded or ground beef tacos. It’s that mix of textures — the crunch of the corn shell, the crisp lettuce, the tiny cheese shreds starting to melt against the hot meat — that do it for me. Of course, there’s much more to choose from. Fill your tacos with shredded chicken, carne adovada, fish, shrimp, or beans if you prefer. Start the day with a breakfast burrito or simple bacon roll, both enveloped in a soft flour tortilla. Later in the day, smothered burritos or enchiladas, quesadillas, taquitos, burgers, and chile cheese fries are all good options. The Frito pie here is a great rendition, with piquant red chile for the classic style, or green if you want to mix it up. Both red and green come from New Mexico. Vegetarians and vegans have options here, with a tasty mix of beans and tofu to stuff into any combination of dishes.
Whatever you choose, it will be one of the best bargains in town!
2018 Cerrillos Road
College Plaza Shopping Center
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Story and photographs by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.