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Friday, March 24, 2006

El Matador - Review #1

1768 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on AOL CityGuide

El Matador Exterior

(For an UPDATED take on El Matador with photos of their recent renovation please CLICK HERE to read El Matador - Review #2.)

A reviewer at this restaurant's Yahoo! Local page says, "Don't let the location in an old storefront next to a tire dealer put you off . . . " and the guy who told me about it says, "Don't be frightened by the horrific decor from the outside...." When I got there I could see what they were getting at. The door to the restaurant almost seems like it could be a side door to the tire store, they are that close. There are a couple of parking spaces right out front but I went into the alley and parked by the carpet store.

El Matador Exterior

If you like old school El Matador has a corner on old school. They have changed hands a number of times in forty years but have apparently always kept the decor largely the same. I was tempted to bash open a few of the piƱatas hanging from the ceiling but I restrained myself. Their front window advertises that they serve fish tacos which any Mexican restaurant feels like they need to advertise nowadays to stay relevant but I don't think customers patronize El Matador for temporal relevance but for familiarity.

El Matador Interior

Guess this particular meal was somewhat of a brunch because I ordered chorizo with potatos and eggs. I'm a sucker for a good chorizo meal. Reminds me of the times when my dad would cook it up on Saturday morning while I was watching cartoons (Hong Kong Phooey!) and the aroma would permeate the house. El Matador's chorizo was probably the closest approximation to those childhood memories I've experienced in a long time.

El Matador Exterior

El Matador gets a three and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Johnny Automatic said...

went to the newly expanded El Matador. Friend told me it had be remodeled. I was happy to see that the old hideously tacky part was still the same. But now there is a new bar/dining room that is much more classy and sedate.

Good (strong) cheap margaritas at lunch

Love their salsa - good flavor and heat level.

I had the mini-chimi lunch special - certainly filling and hardly mini. Good value.

Wife had the cheese enchilada lunch plate. As good as she remembered.

Melinda said...

I think this place is terrible! I had been here once before and it was ok, but nothing special. I stopped in again and this time it was horrible- the service was bad, the food was bad, and the quantities were poor. They charge $9.50 for a "Guacamole Salad" which is nothing more than iceberg lettuce with a scoop of guacamole on top, and the drinks were sub-par and small as well. The waiter forgot to bring several items we ordered, although it worked out ok since I wasn't going to spend more money after spending so much on such a tasteless meal.

I definitely will not be going back here again- there are an abundance of much better mexican restaurants in the OC. I'm surprised you gave it such a good rating...

ChristianZ said...

Hmm, most people think I'm being mean to a restaurant when I give it a three and a half Speedy Gonzales rating. Anyways, my rating was based on my experience there . . . and I have only been there twice, but the two times I went I didn't experience the poor service you did. I allow people to make comments here so they can tell others about their own experience.

Anonymous said...

Fuck the new owner,he was not the one to originally gain fame to orange countys best Mexican food restaurant. I visited it not too long ago n its just not the same nice hospitality n good service as it was years ago