Fast Casual Review: New! Fire-Grilled Chicken and Steak Tortas from Baja Fresh

We can’t have Cinco de Mayo without reviewing an often overlooked Mexican food item.  For a limited time, the fast casual Mexican food chain Baja Fresh is serving New! Fire-Grilled Chicken and Steak Tortas.

baja-torta

Simply put, a torta is a Mexican sandwich.  The torta from Baja Fresh is your choice of fire-grilled chicken breast or steak with tomato, sour cream,  fresh avocado, a mild spicy sauce, mayo and crispy lettuce all contained inside a toasted telera roll. I remember years ago Baja had tortas that were on the regular everyday menu.  The grilled chicken torta was my usual order as I’m not the biggest fan of Baja’s burritos.  For some reason, the torta was taken off the regular menu and my regular visits to Baja Fresh became much more infrequent as I would prefer Chipotle, California Tortilla and Moe’s for fast casual Mexican dining options.  The Baja torta had my 6 bucks on a regular basis and since it came off the menu, they haven’t really wowed me with much else to keep me coming back.  I was happy to see the torta make a return and very happy to see it upgraded from what I remembered years back.

When speaking of an “upgraded” Baja Fresh torta, I’m specifically referring to the telera roll (also known as a bolillo roll).  This bread just works exceptionally well for this sandwich.  I remember in the past, the tortas I used to get would suffer from getting a little soggy in some areas.  This new telera bread is crusty, hearty and very reminiscent of a ciabatta roll. It contains the hefty doses of meat and avocado slices and really does a great job at keeping things intact.  Most other breads would cause this sandwich to fall apart.  Another big positive was the generous slices of avocado.  I would guess that there was at least a half of an avocado in the sandwich.  I’m a big fan of fresh avocado and it goes especially well with the grilled chicken torta.  The sandwich had a mild, creamy, spicy sauce which seemed to be a mix of red salsa and sour cream. It could’ve used a little more heat but it comes with an additional side of the sauce that seemed to be hotter than the sauce in the sandwich.

I prefer the grilled chicken torta over the steak version for a few reasons.  First off, the grilled chicken is moist and juicy while I found the steak version to be a little on the dry side.  As is the case with a lot of steak products, if it’s not super thinly sliced, it’s going to be a chewy chore to eat.  The flavor of the steak is very good but did suffer from a couple of these issues that I actually expected.  (note: there is a pork carnitas torta that I haven’t had yet)

Overall I would highly recommend this sandwich.  If anything, it’s a break from the burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, taco salads…I can go on and on.  The Mexican sandwich is definitely an under appreciated item that deserves to have a permanent spot on the Baja Fresh menu.  I’m wondering with all the new innovations at Taco Bell every month, why no torta?

Pros: Delicious and filling. Great portion of fresh avocado. Awesome telera roll. Comes with a side of sauce to spice things up. A break from burritos.

Cons: Steak version was spicy in different areas (uneven). Steak was expectedly chewy/tough. Grilled chicken could've used a better flavor and is bland without the other ingredients.

Taste: 9.00/10
Value: 7.75/10
Price: Chicken or Pork Carnitas $6.25, Steak $6.85

Overall GrubGrade: 9.00/10 (Chicken version) | 8.25/10 (Steak version)

More Info: BajaFresh.com

8 comments on “Fast Casual Review: New! Fire-Grilled Chicken and Steak Tortas from Baja Fresh

  1. Dude!!! That looks awesome. Don’t know how I haven’t seen this yet. I love me some Baja Fresh. I think the best comment about this is that it’s a break from burritos. Sometimes always getting a burrito at these places starts to get boring and just “usual”. This certainly seems like a nice change to that routine. Good review.

  2. Adam says:

    Wow that looks awsome. I have to admit that I have NEVER eaten at a Mexican fast food/QSR chain. I just usually can’t go for how heavy the food seems to be, and tend to steroptype the whole “Nachos and Tacos” idea as anything but fresh (what can I say, I’m an Italian guy from MD) But I may need to give this a try…

    Do you know what kind of cut they use for the “steak” burrito? Is it flank? Top sirloin? Or just some “meat product” type of deal…

  3. brad says:

    That looks really good. I’d flip out if they started carrying that at Taco Bell.

  4. Bryan says:

    We’re huge fans of tortas – there are takeout places around us that actually specialize ONLY in Tortas. Pretty delicious. We were sad when Baja Fresh took ’em off the menu. But they actually just closed the Baja Fresh in our town in the past few weeks, so now it’s a bit of a hike to visit. Still, I think I’d make the trip to try them again.

  5. Raiders757 says:

    Never heard of the place, but anythign with Mexican spices and flavoring kicks butt to me. Sad to hear the beef is chewy with random flavor though. I guess that might be more the fault of the those who made it?

  6. Shan says:

    I can’t quit looking at that bun.

  7. Raiders757 says:

    Yes, the bun does look tasty.

  8. […] is the Mexican sandwich known as the torta.  For me, it’s tough finding one outside of a Baja Fresh chain. If you happen to be at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, do yourself a favor and seek out Tortas […]