K38 is a Wilmington institution. I’m not even sure if I know any locals that don’t have any opinion on this Baja Mexican style restaurant. I can’t even tell you how many times I have eaten here, but it’s been a while so I thought, let’s give it another go. I originally began boycotting K38 (Oleander, I couldn't even tell you where the one in Porters Neck is) last summer when my all time favorite, dollar taco night, had now become two dollar taco night. In the grand scheme of things two bucks for a taco is not terrible, but it’s the principle of it. (This is still a touchy subject for me so before I go into an unnecessary rant I promise to contain myself). So before I sat down on Friday afternoon for lunch my only experience with this place was the $1.00…. ahem… $2.00 black bean tacos, salsa, and Coronas. Many many Coronas to be exact, (because if you have ever been to K38 on taco night you know that the wait will be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours.) So onto my Friday afternoon experience….
Apparently in the afternoon when you walk in you won’t have a hostess, instead you are greeted by a sign that asks you to “seat yourself at a clean table” and has wrapped silverware, menus, coloring sheets, and crayons for you to pickup. I thought it was odd that it stated “clean table” but then understood when we walked into the main room and out of the 8 empty tables not a single one was clean. So off to the bar we were. I was a little worried when we headed down the one person hallway to the bar and saw yet another dirty table, but fear not, because my favorite little booth that is tucked into the side of the bar was empty (and clean!) so I thought this was a sign that we should stay. Side Note: normally if I walked into a restaurant with this many dirty tables and not a single bus person, or server for that matter, in sight, I would have left. After a few minutes we were greeted by our friendly server who brought us chips and salsa. Now let me say that this just isn’t any salsa! No… this is K38 salsa. Normally the blend of heat with cilantro makes this salsa hands down one of my favorite things… ever. This particular batch, however, had more onions than I have ever seen in a salsa and hardly any delicious cilantro. Mildly disappointed (I mean it has been a while since I’ve been there so I guess it’s entirely possible that the salsa recipe or at least ingredient portions have been changed….. or that THE salsa king, whoever he (or she respectively) is may have had the day off), we placed a drink order. I asked for the Baja Sangria (don’t , I repeat don’t ask for a regular Sangria, you will be disappointed and confused) and my boyfriend, disappointed over the beer selection on tap, ordered a water and a guacamole appetizer. Side Note: the beer selection here is really nothing to write home (or even in this blog) about so if you are in the mood for a cold one and your beer palate is more advanced than a college frat boys, this is not the place for you.
About 10 minutes later our drinks and appetizer came out together and by this point we had ample time to mill over the selections on the menu so we decided we better order. I wasn’t all that hungry and after looking at my options on the menu (one Tuna taco for $10 and no sides…. no thank you) we decided that we would split one of the entrees on the special little menu. We went for the Dog Days Crisp. Picture this: two flour tortillas layered with cilantro pesto, lemon garlic sauce, blackened chicken, tomatoes, avocado, and (drum roll please) more cilantro. Yummmm….. does that not sound delish? So off our waitress went while we were left to enjoy our Guacamole. I do have to say that the Guacamole was tasty! Paired with my Baja Sangria I was rather Baja satisfied! As we sat there, chip basket looking so sad with only one lone chip, my Baja Sangria empty, and my boyfriends water looking low we began getting a little impatient. By this point my boyfriend had noticed that the surfing video was in its second loop and the picture I had began coloring was almost complete (yes I grabbed the coloring page and crayons on my way in, I must have know). Finally on the third pass by our table our server comes out carrying our meal and another basket of chips. My boyfriend asks here for some more water and she pleasantly obliges. We were a little confused staring our meal down. Apparently the picture that both of us had in our heads was much different than the what had come to fruition on the plate that separated us.
Well to sum it up I would say that my K38 experience was mediocre at best. The fact that Wilmitonians (is that a word? Well I think I'm making it one) rave about this place kind of boggles me. Maybe they too have only ventured out to the Baja Grill only on those special taco nights when the wait is so long that by the time your name gets called the number of beverages consumed paired with the sheer joy of having a table all your own and being in air conditioning outweighs the sub-par service and average food. As for me, the $30 lunch that I split with my boyfriend hardly seemed worth it.