(Photo courtesy of WAVEJourney.com)
Got a hankering for fresh fish or seafood? Baltazar’s, an upscale Mexican restaurant on Bend’s Westside, might not be the first thought that comes to mind, but it should be. Just one caveat: Come hungry.
Baltazar’s pitcher of Cadillac margaritasand his shrimp cocktail reveal a lot about owner Baltazar’s philosophy.
I’ll start with the beverages. The tall, narrow glass pitcher of Cadillac margaritas provided four of us with three rounds. Even at $60 a pitcher, that’s about half of what you’d pay for that many margaritas elsewhere,and with fresh juiceand plenty of tequila these are better.
Size does matter at Baltazar’s,and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen larger prawns than the jumbos perched on the rim of a stemmed margarita glass. Seriously fresh, they were also tender as could be. The accompanying cocktail sauce with a hint of Mexican hot sauce instead of horseradish served over a bed of onions, cucumberand avocado proved to be a fine accompaniment.
The rest of the appetizers tell the rest of the story.
Monster crab cakes were crispyand meaty—not a lot of fillerand not greasy. The creamy, slightly smokyand sweet chipotle sauce with a drizzle of chocolate mole that came on the side along with a crunchy corn salsa made with carrots, celery, onionand cilantro hit all the textureand flavor notes.
Surprisingly, the exact same chipotle sauceand corn salsa also perfectly showcased the bright pinkand delicious ahi tuna, which was rareand seared to perfection just as the menu had promised.
Finally, we tasted the shrimp ceviche, which is so divine it deserves a moment of silent remembrance. Marinated to orderand served on tiny, crispy corn tortillas, it makes you feel like your toes are buried in the warm sandand the waves are lapping just beyond. That’s hard to do in Central Oregon, especially once winter has set in.
Our entrées continued to hit the mark.
Our seafood combo platter with mushroomsand al dente carrots, served with white riceand a creamy black bean puree like all the rest of the main courses, was so large the plate almost didn’t fit on the table.
The lobster enchiladaand the seafood relleno both featured a mind-boggling amount of succulent seafood along with Baltazar’s homemade seafood sauce, melted jack cheeseand avocado slices. Just typing the words makes me want to climb in my carand zoom over to the restaurant for more.
Baltazar is simply a master with all the ingredients from the sea that he grew up eating in Mazatlan. So naturally, we also ordered the carne asada. I know what you’re thinking. But Baltazar’s carne asada, just like the rest of his food, is a cut above. Buttery in texture with char-meets-citrus flavors, it’s simply the best I’ve ever tasted.
“I’m in love,” my friend Leah announced.
1465 SW Knoll Ave., Bend
Owner: Baltazar O. Chavez
Hours: Sunday — Thursday 4:30-8:30pm; Friday-Saturday 4:30-9:30pm