We’re finding out that the thing to do on the Fourth of July in Michigan is to “go up north.” Well, we have no place to really go up north and I had to work all weekend anyway, so J and I did what we always do on Saturdays. We slept in late then got up and started planning on lunch.
Our original plan was to see about driving over the Birch Run. We got up too late to do that without rushing to get me home in time for work. Our second idea was a cafe in Jackson that Corky told me about. We called and they weren’t open. I had a copy of City Pulse sitting on the coffee table, so I picked it up and started looking through the “Food Finder.” As I’m going down the list, I come across a place called in Mason that I’ve never heard of. I did a Google search, found a website and loved the menu. We were off to Mason.
The Baja Grille is on Jefferson street on the courthouse square. There were quite a few people downtown due to the Fourth of July holiday. We got there after the parade, but the car show was still going on. I could see there was a lot of foot traffic, so when I found a parking spot a half a block away in front of the library, I pulled in.
The restaurant sits on the corner right next to Kean’s Hallmark Shop. Downtown Mason still has the feel of a historic downtown and the shops reflect. There isn’t really any signage for the Baja Grille other than a dry erase marker board that was on the street. It’s one of those places that if you don’t know it’s there, it’s pretty easy to drive right by.
No one was driving right by today though. The place was packed. The dining room has a number of booths along the wall and a handful of tables. All were full. We waited by the door for a few minutes until a waitress saw us and told us we could have the next available table. While we were waiting we walked next door to the Five and Dime store which is connected with a doorway near the kitchen.
The wait was about fifteen minutes. We were shown to a table near the back next to the waitress station which looks sort of like an old bar. We had already looked over a take out menu, so we were at least ready to put in an appetizer order when we ordered our Pepsi’s.
We started with an appetizer called Rooster Stix. These were deep fried tortillas that resembled taquitos filled with grilled chicken, jalapenos, Monterey Jack and Chedar cheese. The appetizer was really big. There were six full size tortillas on the plate with a spicy ranch dipping sauce. We split them up evenly and both had three. J absolutely loved these. She said later she should have just ordered them as an entree and ate all six herself. I was surprised by the size. They were really good and a great mix of flavors.
We finished off the appetizer and the entrees came out a few minutes later. No surprise here. I went for the Bronco Bacon Burger. The sandwich came with BBQ sauce, strips of bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. I have no idea why you would put mayo on this burger, so I had them leave that off as well as the lettuce and tomato. The sandwich was delicious. The burger was a perfect medium with just a little bit of pink in the middle. It came with fries. A lot of fries. By the time I got to the end, I was stuffed. I knew I wasn’t going to eat again until after 10:00 and this meal definitely held me over.
J ordered the Mexican Chicken Ranch. She thought the wrap sounded delicious. The flour tortilla came with lettuce, black beans, pineapple, salsa, and chicken. It sounded delicious, but in reality, there were too many textures and too many temperatures. The chicken was warm. The lettuce was cold. The beans were luke warm and the wrap wasn’t even warmed up. She ended up deconstructing and just eating the chicken and pineapple. Fortunately, she also got a lot of fries and they were cooked just the way she likes it. They were thin cut and crispy. She filled up on fries and we grabbed the wrap to go with the idea that maybe warming it or pressing it at home would make the flavors mesh together a little better.
Our total bill was just over $23. Yeah, $23 for two sandwiches, an appetizer, and two pops. We were split on the sandwiches. I really liked mine while J’s totally missed the mark. The one thing we both agreed on was the Rooster Stix. This was, by far, one of the best appetizers we’ve ever had. J said she really wanted to like the wrap because everything else about the place was great. It’s a great space. They have a great menu and it was a really great dining experience overall. I would say the Baja Grille is definitely worth the drive from Lansing.