Cape Fear Foodie: 30 years of K38 Baja Grill
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a trip to Wrightsville Beach this week, I was looking for a place to slide into for an ice cold beer and something to eat. While there are no shortage of options in that part of town, there was only one location that I set my sights on, K38 Baja Grill.
I’ve been to the Porters Neck location before, stopped by Tower 7 a time or two for some margaritas and burritos, and even enjoyed a number of meals at the K38 by Harris Teeter on Carolina Beach Road and Independence Boulevard. However, the original spot on Oleander is an absolute gem, and there’s little wonder why it’s been around for 30 years now.
Launched in 1993, K38 aimed to provide those classic beach shack, watering hole vibes with an exceptional menu of food. Now three decades later, it’s still as popular as ever, with locals and tourists alike packing the restaurant on a daily basis. With so many restaurants and new options available, it’s difficult to maintain your footing in an ever-evolving city like Wilmington. It speaks to K38′s level of quality and consistency that it’s still here and thriving, then again given the drinks and food on offer, it’s not hard to see why it’s still kicking.
Now back to my visit. After I washed the sand off of my legs and tried to look as presentable as a sunburnt guy in swim trunks and trucker hat could look, I bellied up to the bar, ordered a nearly freezing Pacifico on draft, and dove into the complimentary tortilla chips and fresh salsa. A quick note here about the salsa, it’s some of the best in town, and not your typical “poured from a jar” stuff that some places put out.
As for my main dish, one of my favorite bands Phish was in town, so I naturally had fish on my mind. That’s a good thing too, because one of the founding dishes that K38 built its reputation (and spawned its Live. Eat. Surf restaurant mini-empire) are “The Original K-38 Baja Fish Tacos.”
I opted for two, but in truth I could have housed about 6 of these beauties. Grilled corn tortillas, packed full with Dos Equis beer battered cod, with tomatoes, red cabbage, and cheese, plus a dipping cup of yogurt ranch (a side of piping hot refried beans rounded out the dish).
The fish itself is delicious, big fillets, perfectly breaded and steaming hot. However, the housemade taco sauce is pure bliss. I could only surmise that it is brown sugar based, but it is completely addicting and delicious. It’s little surprise these fish tacos are still on the menu after all these years.
Now a single review of one menu item wouldn’t be enough for a full review, so I am throwing in a meal I had at the new K38 location near Riverlights. I recently tried the Shrimp, Pineapple, and Bacon Enchiladas. These were stuffed with grilled shrimp, cheese, bacon, pineapple, and covered in “Baja BBQ Sauce” with sliced avocados and sour cream drizzle. As you can imagine, everything on the plate was devoured (along with my order of queso blanco).
If seafood isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty more dishes to choose from. There is everything from tacos, to burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas, to K38′s version of “rolls.” The rolls are essentially pinwheels, like loaded burritos that have been cut into slices and displayed like a sushi roll.
With a unique menu of California-inspired Mexican food, plus craft cocktails and ice cold beer, K38 Baja Grill is a perfect respite from the summer heat. It has been for 30 years now, and after your visit, I’m sure you will hope it’s around for another 30 more.
IF YOU GO:
K38 Baja Grill (original location) is located at 5410 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
K38 Baja Grill (near Landfall) is located at 1127 Military Cutoff Rd A2, Wilmington, NC 28405
K38 Porter’s Neck is located at 8211 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28411
K38 Baja Grill (near Riverlights) is located at 3846 Carolina Beach Rd Unit A, Wilmington, NC 28412
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