Margaritas anyone? Casa Baeza at 10004 Bridge Street makes the some of the best in Truckee. While visiting the grand, historic Truckee Hotel, we decided to walk across the street to have something spicy for dinner. The cold weather had us longing for flavors reminiscent of our recent Cabo vacation. Not only did the authentic cuisine whisk me back to memories of Mexico, the whole atmosphere did. Our server, Efrain Nevarez had the entire crowd laughing. The place was just hopping and several parties were on a list, waiting for tables. He had to dance and weave his way through the crowd, hands full of plates. He used these opportunities to tell jokes and give a lady or two a quick dance (look ma, no hands). He never got stressed out, just made it all part of the party. We too were on the waiting list, so we thought we might as well have a cocktail while we waited. The lounge area sports a huge map of Mexico and we soon found ourselves in a small group, complete with pitchers of margaritas ($15 or $5.50 a glass), playing point out your Mexico vacation destination. Owners Andres and Calisto Baeza were behind the bar slinging drinks and putting on the kind of improv stand-up comedy that comes naturally only to brothers. Are they hilarious!… or is it the 55 kinds of tequila on the regular menu. Most are $6.50 with 15 ‘top shelf’ varieties at $10 a shot, and seven premium brands at $25 a shot.
Woohoo Fiesta! The simple decor is also all Mexico. White stucco walls, simple wooden furniture and of course the Corona neon sign hanging make Casa Baeza like stepping off the Truckee street into a Puerto Villarta cantina.The people in Truckee are uncommonly friendly and there was none of usual tension you can find in a crowded restaurant and lounge. Everyone just seemed to socialize with their neighbors until tables were made ready. Two parties of two who had never met ended up sharing the next available table that would seat four, just because they had so much fun together playing the map game with us while we all waited. I’ve never had so much fun while waiting for a table. One couple in our group told a story of coming to Casa Baeza for lunch one day and ending up staying 9 hours, playing liars dice and laughing until they cried with Andres and Calisto Baeza. It was almost sad to leave our new friends when our table was ready. We were really having a ball.
When our table was ready my three friends and I headed to the table and began our Mexican feast. Chips, garden fresh salsa and a cool creamy guacamole got us started while we browsed the menu. The chips are cooked on sight and served warm. The salsa has quite a kick but a little guacamole behind it cools your tongue right back down. Oh yummy! I was so excited to see Ceviche ($5.75) on the menu. This salsa like dip (made with either sea bass or shrimp) is made with shrimp at Casa Baeza and is my all time favorite. Just the perfect amount of cilantro and lime gave theirs a big thumbs up in my book. We emptied the bowl so I guess my friends thought it was pretty good too.
I chose the Beef Torte ($8), for my main course. Tender shredded beef in a spicy sauce with lettuce, cheddar cheese and just a touch of onion and tomato on a huge fresh bun proved to be far more than I could eat in a single sitting. Several combination plates mixing and matching all your traditional favorites are offered. A triple combo (at $14.50) of Taco, Tamale and Chili Relleno made its way to our loud and laughter filled table. Served with smooth and spicy refried beans, a very flavorful Spanish rice with just a hint of lime, and a ranch dressed salad made this a generous meal which could have fed all four of us! The Tamale was was perfect. A two item combo (at $11.95) of Tamale and Green Chili Enchilada, also served with refried and spanish rice was selection number three. The tangy and spicy green chili sauce is exactly what Mexican dining is all about. Hot and tangy, this exquisite sauce would be a great topping for any smothered dish. The Enchilada Combo ($11.95) was our final choice and gave us all a chance to sample a bite of the red enchilada sauce as well. One cheese enchilada with green sauce and one chicken enchilada with red sauce, is a great choice for sauce sampling. We all sampled and still didn’t even come close to cleaning our plates.
Taquitos, Tostadas, Burritos and Chimichangs are also among the tasty treats to mix and match on the combos menus. Carnitas Tapatias, at $14, is a traditional Mexican pork roast served with its own special salsa, sour cream and Guacamole is a house specialty. Shrimp Fajitas and the T-Bone Steak Dinner are the most spendy items on the dinner menu at $14.95. Not bad, not bad at all. Even though they open daily at 11:30 a.m., Casa Baeza still offers a five item breakfast menu consisting of Huevos Al La Mexicana, Huevos Rancheros, Menudo (Con Pozole), Machaca Con Huevos and Huevos Con Chorizo. All breakfasts are $9.50 and served all day. Several bottled Mexican sodas including my favorite, Tamarind, as well as Coke, Root Beer & 7-Up , juices and two ice tea choices are each $2. I took my Tamarind soda to go knowing I would really want something cold to drink come morning.
We walked out into the chilly Truckee night after our three and a half hour dining adventure very happy that home for the night was right across the street at the Truckee Hotel. I was full, festive and felt like we were returning from a mini Mexico vacation. Pay a visit to those wild Baeza brothers and Efrain next time you’re up the Truckee/Tahoe way. Those guys can really Fiesta!