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The Quesadilla Question: One Writer’s Thoughts

Charred tortilla, smooth guac, honest opinions

The quesadilla is powerful in its versatility as well as its simplicity. As a result, many turn to this classic for a delicious dinner or a late-night snack. But how do the quesadilla options on Thayer Street stack up?

For this experiment, I ordered a steak quesadilla from each of the three restaurants. The only fillings inside the quesadillas were steak and cheese, but they also came with guacamole, sour cream and pico on the side. I taste-tested each quesadilla and topping meticulously. The first bite of each was topped with guacamole and sour cream. The second bite was the stand-alone quesadilla with no toppings. The third bite included pico. From there, I sampled the rest of the quesadilla with the toppings (or lack thereof) that most enhanced the flavor and experience of that particular quesadilla. After trying all three quesadillas, I sampled each restaurant’s guacamole separately, using tortilla chips from the new Baja’s as a vessel.

The New Bajas

Wait time: 3 minutes, 58.76 seconds
Price: $11


The quesadilla from the new Bajas — located at 223 Thayer St. — was extremely uneven, both in terms of the cut (one of the four slices was the size of the other three combined) and in terms of steak and cheese distribution. Some bites were stuffed with cheese and steak, while others featured no steak and only a thin layer of cheese. The cheese was gooey, and the quesadilla was not too greasy. While good, the quesadilla was nothing special —  the flavors were muted, and it didn’t leave much of a lasting impression. 

The guacamole was similarly lackluster. It was heavy on the onions and the chunkiest of all guacamoles I sampled. While I preferred the chunky texture, the flavor did not strike me as anything special. 


The Old Bajas

Wait time: 3 minutes, 49.27 seconds
Price: $13

Old Bajas — located at 273 Thayer St. —  proved that experience does matter in the quesadilla business. Compared to the newer Bajas, the cheese ratio in the old Bajas’s quesadilla was far more evenly distributed, but the quesadilla was greasier. The spices in the steak were slightly more flavorful than those of the new Bajas, although the difference was marginal. Overall, it was a very tasty quesadilla, but it didn’t have much of a “wow factor.”

The real difference between the new and old Bajas was in the guacamole. Old Bajas’s guacamole was much tangier, with an almost sour flavor that gave it a delightfully fresh taste. The guacamole was on the smoother side, and while I preferred the textural diversity of the new Bajas guacamole, the flavor of the old Bajas’s guacamole was unquestionably superior. 



Wait time: 7 minutes, 11.61 seconds
Price: $13


If a tortilla were a canvas and Caliente were Da Vinci, then its steak quesadilla would be the Mona Lisa. Stuffed full of well-seasoned steak, Caliente’s quesadilla featured a perfect ratio, including a layer of cheese on the outside of the tortilla which added a slightly charred, smokey flavor to the dish. It was as full of flavor as it was protein. The only knock on the quesadilla was that it was extremely greasy, and readers are advised to gather three to five napkins before indulging in the dish.

The guacamole was unfortunately bland. It had little flavor and was incredibly smooth, resulting in a boring mouth-feel. It was also placed on top of lettuce, which became mixed into the guacamole and contributed to the weak flavor. 



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Wait time: Relatively short if it’s before 6:30 p.m; afterward, impossibly long
Price: 1 meal swipe

Important Note: Jo’s does not offer steak as a protein option; only chicken and impossible meat, with the occasional inclusion of ground beef or shrimp. Jo’s also places the toppings inside the quesadilla, instead of on the side, and does not offer guacamole. Please account for these discrepancies when interpreting the rankings.

The Jo’s quesadilla is generally worth the wait. By allowing students to express their culinary creativity by customizing their quesadillas, and melting the quesadilla all the way through on a panini press, Jo’s dining staff creates a top-tier dining hall food. But the biggest issue with the Jo’s quesadilla is that as a result of putting the pico de gallo inside the quesadilla instead of on top, the tortilla can become soggy. Nonetheless, it still remains a campus staple.


Kate Butts

Kate Butts is a Senior Staff Writer covering University Hall. Outside of the Herald, she loves running, board games and Trader Joe's snacks.

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