Los Baez

2015 update: Los Baez family is retiring and selling restaurant

Review by Twister Sister
2920 Commercial Street SE
Salem, OR 97302
(503) 363-3109
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
I am told foodies from Portland drive down for a fix of “Baez”. Whenever my sister visits from San Diego this is where she wants to go to eat. Los Baez food is consistently excellent and has never disappointed us.
Some restaurants are a draw for their food and others because of exceptional service but this restaurant will please you with their old-fashioned hospitality which leaves you both content and nourished. The Baez family has a passion and it really shows in the food and their service. We have always received a warm greeting and been seated promptly. Warm fresh tortilla chips and salsa arrive with glasses of ice water, usually before we have opened our menus. Taste the salsa gingerly to discover if it is spicy, tingly, has a kick or is incendiary and will require first aid. Let the heat catch up with you. If you like avocados be sure and ask the wait staff “is the guacamole is good today”. When the avocados are in season it is not to be missed.
Be sure to order a drink – Margarita, Cuba Libre, Angel’s Sunrise or an icy Corona. Cool off your tongue and jump start your taste buds. If it is lunch and you cannot imbibe alcohol the iced tea is fresh brewed and always delicious.
The menu is extensive offering Michoacan style specialties plus Chile Colorado, Pork Carnitas, Chicken Mole and Tamales along with more familiar Mexican fare like Burritos, Tacos, Chile Rellenos. You can choose from various seafood, beef, chicken, pork, guacamole or cheese to fill plump enchiladas and burritos. If you have a hard time making a decision order the Wally Burrito, named after a policeman with an appetite for life, which is filled to capacity with a little of everything.
Generous portions are guaranteed. If you order an enchilada it will come smothered in both red enchilada sauce and gravy (chicken). Take a warm tortilla, smear with the silken refried beans then wrap up to use as a mop for all that lovely sauce. Did I mention that the tortillas alone are worth the trip?
For dessert try the flan but ask for a shot of Kaluha to pour over it. Custard gone to heaven!
You can buy uncooked tortillas to make sublime quesadillas at home and you don’t have to tell anyone you didn’t make the tortillas yourself -- they will never guess.
The first Los Baez restaurant opened in 1973. Dinner at this flagship restaurant will answer any of your questions about what all the hype is about. I have been taking pleasure in their food and hospitality for over 25 years.


The Mulligan Family said...

Mmmm... sounds yummy! I can't believe we haven't tried Los Baez yet! Well, it is now firmly planted at the top of my to do list. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can say that I have liked everything that I have tried here. Always good food.

Anonymous said...

I tried it once back in 2003 and thought it was quite mediocre. Maybe it's gotten better since then?

Also, the review reads like a PR release, not an objective review.

Anonymous said...

We used to Love Los Baez but after 3 times of HORRIBLE service (Commercial ST location) we will never go back. We live walking distance which was nice, especially after a couple of maragrita's. Oh well..

Allan said...

I've never been disappointed in the food in over 20 years ( I even used to work at the short-lived Albany location back then), and I just love the salsa. I stop by both locations a couple of times a year whenever I find myself back in Salem.

Anonymous said...

I remember when they were a tiny white building, way in the back of the lot. Also used to be a gas station and motel near them.

The Food. Used to be, it was always top notch, but then they opened too many other restaurants, and their quality and consistancy was not good. After a few years, all the other ones closed, exccept for the one on Lancaster, and the first one, on Commercial St. We have tried to stay loyal to them, but it is hard.

Sometimes the chips are stale, the tacos not filled with much meat. The beans too dry. On and off good food, and service. So...with a heavy heart, we stopped going last year. It's not worth ANY trip from Portland. And, sadly, not even from West Salem. I dislike inconsistant food quality and service.

Anonymous said...

If you like Los Baez, you must really like Taco Bell.

Back in the day, it was he only Mexican restaurant in Salem. Now it is just one of many, and nothing stands out about the place.

I eat out at least five times a week, and I have not been there in at least five, maybe ten years.

I try to eat local, but with Mexican and Chinese restauurants a dime a dozen in Salem, we have a lot better choices than Los Baez.

Dsperin said...

They used to be good--years ago. I work down the street from the S. Commercial location, so I gave it try for lunch. I ordered my food to go, and it always bothers me when the food arrives before I've gotten my wallet out of my purse. The beans were godawful--obviously served with an icecream scoop-- dry on the out side (as if it had been sitting under a light) and they were a weird, greasy consistency. I was too scared to eat them. The chicken enchilada I ordered was just a warmed over corn torilla with a litte chicken inside smothered in this very bland chicken gravy/mild tomato flavored sauce. Yuck. The rice was as bland and dry as any other restaurant. Really a very sorry lunch. I won't be back.

Anonymous said...

Went there for lunch. Plenty of tables full but we got prompt service and the food was as good as ever. The salsa was perfect. Tried the Spinanch Enchilada, felt very virtuous eating all those good vitamins -- and so tasty too

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine from Eugene actually drives to Salem to eat at Los Baez.

Their salsa is way too good. With a warm basket of chips - heck I don't even need dinner.

The food is good. We take the kids there and have since they were little - because the service is very fast (this is very good for people with little kids).

Last time we went in, the owner greeted us, and by the time we were settled in our seat and got the kids set up with coloring books, a beer and a margarita arrived (ahhhh..!!). They immediately took our order and we had dinner within 10 minutes.

As I said, the food is good, but the service is what brings us back. Only place in town that earns well over a 20% tip from me.

Caveat: we have not liked everything on the menu, but have found what we do like and order the same thing most visits.

Alex said...

I live near the S. Commercial location Nov 1 '08. I ate here once about 6 years ago and don't remember anything standing out. Then yesterday I went back with a friend; the salsa was good - spicy and seemed homemade - but our food wasn't anything special. The service was kind of slow, but friendly. I guess I prefer the other Mexican places on S. Commercial. So I guess that's why I hadn't been there for 6 years!

Ralene said...

Really i have never found a mexican restaurant that was anything more then run of the mill. I think i make better mexican food at home. There is a place called La Rosa in Bend oregon if you ever get over there that is great! try there avocado and garlic potato enchilada

Anonymous said...

Los baez Has good food and good serves. I I started eating there back in the 1978 I thank??? I was young back then but anyway I am now 38. I still love eating there. always good food and serveice

Anonymous said...

Yuck! How would anyone drive from anywhere to eat here? I remember eating here years ago, not caring for it, but as my friends and I rolled up to get our sushi fix to find Momiji closed, we decided not to drive elsewhere but eat at Los Baez. I figured it deserved another chance by now. What a mistake.

Upon entering we were were greeted with a chemical-cleanser smell, and not tantalizing food aromas. The server who told us to sit anywhere was dressed in a way that made him look like he just came in off the street instead of being ready for work... and his manners were the same. Between my three companions and I, several of the items we ordered were met with a "......nah." "I'd like the wild chiles," I said, and his response was "....nnnno." I was so surprised I couldn't even think of what to say back to him, and floundered by pointing at the spot in menu that listed what I wanted. He just stared at me. --What? What is that? An appropriate response to not serving a menu item any longer might be, "I'm sorry but we no longer offer that dish, but here is something similar you might like," or just "I'm sorry, that's not available today." But the lacksidaisical "nah" response was very rude. I felt like the entire menu lied to us, we couldn't have what we wanted, and he was not there to help us out.

The chips were stale. The salsa was a bit on the tasteless side, and mostly liquid. When he brought us a second bowl of chips, the bowl had dried crusty food stuck to the side. Ew. My pork quesedilla was in a puddle of bright orange cheese oil, very greasy. The pork inside was so salty I could hardly eat it. The strange dry-on-the-outside, scooped-with-an-ice-cream-scoop refried beans were not delicious, neither was the dry rice. The homemade tortillas are ok, I think other places in town do them better. We were all baffled by the lousy service. Lousy, lousy. I will never go back! Save your money, eat at any of the many other Mexican food establishments in town. They must all be able to do miles better.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that I fully agree with that last comment. After hearing nothing but good things about them, my fiance and I decided to give it a chance. We were VERY disappointed. The restaurant was not clean, no one was up front to greet us, after a few minutes and very unprofessional man came and led us to a section where he told us to choose a table. The table did not look like it was cleaned. We had 2 table settings with 1 fork and had to wait while he got a high chair for our toddler. The food was slow and the rice was dry the beans looked terrible and the guac was nothing but smashed avocado, there was no flavor. I told who I can only assume to be the manager about this, he didn't acknowledge my concern. He did not apologize or try anything to make it right. We paid and left highly unsatisfied. WE WILL NOT BE BACK.

Chuck Bradley said...

I am flabbergasted by the last two reviews! I have been a patron of Los Baez since 1978 (in their old and new locations). I have had Mexican food in literally hundreds of restaurants and food stands in Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Oregon. You can be sure that shoddy treatment and sub-par food are not what's kept me coming back for well over 30 years. As to their refried beans; I will be the first to acknowledge that they are not the brown soup many Mexican places pass off as RFBs. They have a unique texture and flavor and for that I say "Thank you Los Baez!" As for criticism of their Salsa (which I think one previous reviewer may have confused with Pico de Gallo when he complained that it was too watery), I can only respond “You’ve cannot be serious!” For my money it is the best in the mid-valley. Please do not be put off by these negative reviews. I’m guessing you’ll find Los Baez to be among the best Mexican places you’ve tried.

SEMTSensei said...

In 1974 or 75, I worked at the Elsinore Movie Theatre. The Baez fam had just moved up from Guadalajara, came to the movies and invited us to have a meal at their new place. I took a friend who had recently moved from CA and we both LOVED it. I've been going since then, with my parents, friends, now with my husband, kids & their friends. The service is consistently professional and kind... even with my handicapped dad or with young children. The freshest salsa, tortillas and chips, wonderful shredded, marinated beef, all lean meats and fresh veggies. I really do not understand how it can be so different from a few of these reviews, however I've travelled all over, a LOT in the Southwest, and have not found better.

Anonymous said...

Just ate lunch at Los Baez on Commercial St because we had a gift certificate.
The menu's are sticky and stained; the salsa has spice (which we enjoy) but tasted like it came straight out of a can. For the price, we expected some really GOOD food .. the chicken enchilada barely had any meat in it. The chicken fajitas were mediocre .... everything just lacked flavor/seasoning.
Reminded of us cafeteria food.
Can't believe this place is still open when there are several good mexican restaurants down the road. Sad.
Unfortunately we have another certificate .. guess we'll wait till their patio opens and just drink margies .. hope they're good!
please someone tell us they are :)


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. The salsa is my favorite part of Los Baez. Some of their dishes are hit/miss and they have overcharged us several times, but the fresh warm chips and salsa are excellent. The salsa is definitely homemade and fresh.

Chuck Bradley said...

I agree that Los Baez Salsa is just about as good as it gets. The real knock-out-punch for me is their unique refried Beans. I usually get a double scoop and skip the rice.

Pam Gallagher said...

Ihave been eating at Los Baez since it opened in 1973. After reading the negative comments, I just had to write a review. Sure, like any place that's been around for a long time it goes through some rough spots. Some of the cooks were bad, but I truly believe they are gone now. This used to be my kitchen away from home. My husband of 33 years and I had our first date there and have been coming back ever since. Our children grew up there and they go there now more than my husband and I. (We are on a weight loss program right now)For those of you who have not tried it lately, go back and give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Los Baez can be hit or miss at times, but their tortillas, chip, and fresh salsa are the best in town.

Pam Starr said...

Been going to baez since my son was 6. He is now 33. One of the son's opened a restaurant in Tigard I was there at least twice for lunch every week and with husband and son every other week for dinner.After closing in Tigard back in the early 90's we drove and continue to drive to Salem whenever possible. The 45-50 min. Drive only increases the craving for their food. I'm a die hard Baez fan and happy the parents get to retire. Please keep one restaurant open or I won't get my taco and bean fix.