SoCal-style Mexican meals in Fortitude Valley.
October 03, 2019
Mexican cuisine, Southern Californian vibes, Japanese influences and Queensland fresh produce — that's what's on offer at Baja Brisbane. A newcomer to Fortitude Valley's growing FV precinct on the corner of Brunswick and Alfred Streets, it's the latest venture from Milk Box Tuckshop's Daniel Quinn. And while tacos, guacamole, mezcal and tequila all feature on the menu, this isn't the kind of restaurant that's filled with sombreros.
Instead, Baja Brisbane serves up its SoCal-style Mexican dishes in a laidback, minimalistic space — think neutral tones, hints of pink and green, terracotta tables and a window cactus garden. Overseen by Quinn's partner Sarah Vize, the fit-out is designed to not only to exude a relaxing vibe, but to direct everyone's focus onto the food and drink lineup.
Arriving in Brisbane via Berlin after a stint working in Oaxaca, head chef Valerie Frei whipped up her menu when she was still in Mexico, opting for a simple, fresh and authentic spread. As well as tacos with a choice of grilled flank steak, mushrooms and mozzarella, slow-cooked pork neck or beer-battered kingfish (between $12–23), highlights include the Mexican fruit stand ($9), which combines watermelon, melon, cucumber and carrot with a mint and a citrus chilli vinaigrette, plus the twice-cooked octopus tentacles, which comes with citrus, chilli oil and a squid ink-infused burnt jalapeño soy sauce ($22). Or, you can tuck into the spiced chocolate mousse with house-made passionfruit yoghurt, passionfruit curd and burnt brownie pieces ($12) for dessert.
Beverage-wise, the wine list spans more than 35 white, red, sparkling and rosé tipples, while both pale ale and lager are available on tap. That said, cocktails are definitely the main attraction. Opt for a Snarky Mexican Kiss (with tequila, cointreau, lemon, sugar, watermelon and a sichimi salt rim, for $18), an Epic Devil Mezcal and Tonic (with mezcal, zucca, peach, cold brew coffee with bitters and tonic, for $17) or the supremely boozy Day of the Dead (with two tequilas, one mezcal, pineapple, grenadine and lime, for $20). If you're driving, the Baja mocktail ($14) blends citrus, orange blossom water, fresh orange juice and lemonade.