Taco Del Mar, Baja Fresh vs local taquerias
About a year ago some one queried about Taco Del Mar and got a few replies:
I never saw that post so I wasn't aware TDM was a nationwide chain when I first saw it near my work, also about a year ago. I read the writing on the wall (literally and figuratively) and figured it was a bland chain so walked out without trying it. Fast forward to now, when after trying 2 local taquerias in my little town, we went to try TDM. My pork mole burrito was decent but hubby's fish burrito was not good (though not horrid). My post is here:
Then today I went to the franchise near my work and ordered the same pork mole burrito, and this time the meat was slightly different. Not as dried out (ie softer), a bit less salty, and there was a thin brownish orange-tinged sauce visible in the container this time (the supposed "mole" sauce even though it tastes nothing like mole). Still a decent burrito and about the same quality as a local mini-chain down the street (Burrito Factory). And it wasn't any wetter or mushier than non-chain burritos in general. And I disagree that this is bad food in big portions for cheap; my burrito both times were the same size & price as non-chain burritos.
I agree that TDM is on the same level as Baja Fresh, another burrito chain, rather than the lower levels of Del Taco and Taco Bell.
Comparing Baja Fresh to TDM, BF grills the assembled burrito briefly on the fast-food-type-grill, TDM steams the tortilla. BF has more menu choices (including one combining "Thai" with "Mexican"). I like BF's "grilled" beef when I go there, but TDM has no grilled meat as one of the choices, but the pork at TDM is closer to what I've had from taquerias. I don't like the salsas at BF (the blackish salsa is okay but not spicy enough, the smoky hot one has an off flavor), and TDM's hot salsa was spicy one time, and almost unbearingly burning another. But I like that BF has a salsa/condiments bar at all (no salsa bar at TDM).
Anyway I think these 2 chains are worth it for when you crave a burrito but don't have many choices. It seems in the world of chains, they fill a small niche of people, those who want a burrito that hasn't been completely bastardized, but who for an everyday meal don't want to have to drive across town or to another city to get one.
I was disappointed to learn that Baja Fresh is now owned by Wendy's. I used to go to the very first Baja Fresh in Newbury Park, CA about 15 years ago. On a trip back to that area a few years ago I was sad to see the original location in a neighborhood strip mall had closed and been relocated to a mega-plex just off the freeway. The quality just isn't what I remember, but I still like their burritoes better than any other chain out there. I don't live near a BF, and generally end up at Tres Hermanos in Napa for a great carnitos taco. But when I travel and end up somewhere where chain food is the only option, I always seek out a Baja Fresh!