Has New, Cool Lounge
Of The Week
Willow Creek Fresh Baja Grill
Has New, Cool Lounge
Willow Creek Fresh Baja Grill and Lounge is the brainchild of Alfred Arundel, a native of Queens, and his buddy and frequent collaborator, J. Chambers. The two set out a year ago to bring the healthy cuisine known as Cal-Mex, to Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. It would take a film writer-director and actor to transform a beat up old deli into a cool cafeand soon-to-be hip bar, but Arundel and Chambers did just that.
Willow Creek is a decidedly cool and casual street level cafe with a newly opened lounge downstairs. It incorporates exposed brick walls, finished wood floors and post-modern chairs and low lighting and would easily fit in downtown Manhattan. The advantages of its Queens location down the street from the Vernon/Jackson stop on the 7 train are unbeatable prices, large portions and places to park.
Willow Creek Fresh Baja Grill uses only fresh meat, chicken, vegetables and fruit juices in all its dishes and beverages. Nothing is ever frozen and no lard is ever used. The result is a menu of traditional dishes from Mexico graced with a lighter, healthier California touch. Start with a tasty margarita, made with fresh lime juice, served in an oversized glass. There are other fruit flavor drinks as well, and lots of domestic and imported beer and wines to quench your thirst. Share a large order of fresh guacamole and chips ($4.50) while you check out the menu. Mairev, our friendly waitress, suggested the Burrito Grande, a popular item consisting of a 14-inch tortilla filled with delicious rice, pinto beans, choice of meat, cheese, fresh guacamole and salsa, served with spicy chipotle sauce if desired and topped with melted cheese for just $5.75. You can choose among chicken, pork, steak, blackened fish, or even tofu for the filling. Vegetarians can also enjoy giant vegetable burritos stuffed with grilled zucchini, red and green peppers, onions, jack cheese, rice, beans and salsa at just $5.50.
Willow Creek’s food is not only delicious and fresh, it’s inexpensive, too. In fact, the highest priced dish on the menu is a generous plate of carne asada, a grilled, marinated skirt steak that comes with rice and beans, lettuce, tomato, salsa, cheese and guacamole for $10.75.. Combination plates of crispy chicken flautas or fajitas will satisfy even the biggest appetite, and they’re also fun to eat and share.
Double wrapped soft tacos start at just $2.75 and are filled with chicken, pork or vegetables. Steak or shrimp tacos can be ordered with a soft tortilla or crunchy, yellow corn taco shell. Fresh salads are available as side dishes or main courses and are perfect at lunch time.
Downstairs is the just-opened lounge that promises to be Long Island City’s hippest night spot. A delightful outdoor garden patio was open all summer, boasting a fantastic view of midtown Manhattan and frosty blender drinks. With the changing seasons, the party moves inside, where comfy couches and intimate seating, along with ambient music and awesome photos by a renowned local photographer set a mood. Snack on finger food such as chicken taquitos, bubbling quesadillas or warm nachos while you sit back and chat with friends.
Willow Creek Fresh Baja Grill is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The downstairs lounge is open till the wee hours for your pleasure. Willow Creek does a brisk take-out business, so call in an order for delivery to your home or office, or just stop by on your way home from work. The friendly staff, fresh and healthy food and comfortable atmosphere make Willow Creek a winner in my book.
Fresh Baja Grill
10-93 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City