Restaurant Review: Bahama Breeze (Woodbridge, NJ)

Steak Churrasco: sirloin with rice, beans, fried plantains, and chimichurri sauce.

Bahama Breeze is not just one of my favorite chain restaurants, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. Period. I never write about major chains here on Eating New Jersey. That’s Hunter’s job. But for nearly two years since I first started eating there, I’ve been hard-pressed to find something wrong with it. Everything from the service and atmosphere to the food and drinks has been nothing but pure excellence. The workers are warm and friendly. The drinks are not overpriced spiked fruit juices. The food is colorful, fresh, and flavorful. If I had to make a comparison, I’d say Bahama Breeze is simply the antithesis of Applebee’s.

I don’t think I’ve had anything close to a bad meal or cocktail here. The menu encompasses Caribbean favorites along with some Asian and barbecue influences. Most recently, I had the fish tacos. They were grilled (most restaurants fry pieces of God-knows-what). Cooked to perfection with no hint of fishiness at all, the pieces crumbled with every bite. To contrast the soft nature of the fish was a crunchy slaw on the bottom and a fresh salsa on top. It came with a side of rice and beans, which hit the spot. Wash all that down with a margarita or pint of their own Aruba Red or Blonde beer, and you have yourself a fantastic (and light) meal.

Conch Fritters with mango sauce.

In getting to the appetizers, they are top-notch. The guacamole is as good as you would find in any Mexican restaurant. The Conch fritters are fried to a crisp, not greasy in any way, and come with a marvelous dipping sauce. The same can be said for the empanadas, which are delicately spicy with just the right amount of kick for such an appetizer. Even the shrimp and lobster quesadillas were outstanding—just the right amount of cheese and contents.

Grilled fish tacos.

But how about when it comes to something more difficult? One night I dared to order the Steak Churrasco. Only $17.99 for an eight ounce steak and three sides? It must be too good to be true, right? Throw into the mix that I ordered it rare, and we had the makings of a potential disaster. Well, not only did they prove me totally wrong, but they also hit me upside the head with just how good the cooking is at this place. I always order steak rare, but over the years have found some restaurants either will not cook it rare or do not know how to. The server always jots it down, but then it comes out medium or worse. Bahama Breeze, on this night, managed to give me exactly what a rare steak should be. Perfection was not even the word. It was red in the middle, some blood in the plate. There are some steakhouses which could not have done it better. It is pictured below, zoomed in so you can see.

Perfection.

I’ve had a little bit of everything here. The shrimp and mahi rice bowl and the lamb curry were also fantastic. It takes skill to be so competent over such a wide-ranging menu. In regards to the drinks, this is one of the only chains I would trust with a cocktail. Most others definitely screw you over with high prices and minuscule amounts of alcohol in their drinks. Bahama Breeze treats some of the cocktails as works of art, specifically the specialty margaritas which you first drink with your eyes. Their flights are a great way to sample what they have to offer.

Just look at that Hibiscus Margarita in the back.

Deep down, I never thought I would do this for a chain, but I am left with no choice but to award the Bahama Breeze Woodbridge location with 4.5 out of 5 stars. For everything from the food and drinks to the always friendly and attentive service (which has never yet pushed drinks or expensive specials like other chains), everything here is like a summer party in the Caribbean.

This Bahama Breeze is located at 520 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

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