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Friday, May 05, 2006

Javier's Cantina and Grill at the Irvine Spectrum - Cinco de Mayo Review

This review is only about one Javier's location. Click here to read our complete Javier's coverage.

Javier's Cantina & Grill
45 Fortune Dr
Irvine, CA 92618
Javier's Cantina & Grill on Urbanspoon

Javier's Sign

This review is all about giving readers and web denizens everywhere what they want. My little site traffic analyzer tool shows me that people are always searching on Yahoo!, Google, Dogpile, and other search engines for "Javier's at the Irvine Spectrum." It is within walking distance of my work but I hadn't even been there since starting this blog. So I arranged to meet there with six other co-workers on Cinco de Mayo.

Javier's is always packed so you can imagine how crazy it was on Cinco de Mayo. I made reservations the day before and when I arrived to claim my reservation the person in front of me was asking how long of a wait it would be for two people and she was told 45 minutes to an hour. Having made reservations ahead of time, however, we were led to a table set for seven in their outdoor seating area. I noticed that they have a little section outdoors that is walled off on three sides and has a curtain that can be drawn shut on the other side, apparently for private parties, or for those who don't like the wind blowing their food all over the place.

Javier's Exterior
Plenty of people who can't wait to celebrate Mexico's independence

Javier's Exterior
Say Cheese

Javier's Exterior
Enchiladas Verde

Javier's Chicken Burrito
Chicken Burrito - David ordered this and said it was okay

Javier's Spinach Enchiladas
Spinach Enchiladas: Also available on St. Patrick's Day - Michael and Rachael both ordered this dish and Rachael raved about it; never heard Michael's opinion

Javier's Chicken Enchilada
Chicken Enchilada

Javier's Flan

Going to try something new by closing out this review with a comparison between the Javier's in Laguna Beach and the one at the Irvine Spectrum. This table may get updated upon future visits:
Javier's Comparison

Frustrating Parking?YesYes
Good Mole?MaybeYes
Good Spinach Enchiladas?MaybeYes
Nice Outdoor Seating?Sort OfYes
Good Flan?YesYes
Across from the Beach?YesNo
Across from The Cheesecake Factory?NoYes
Fancy Restrooms?Don't KnowYes
Tiki Torches Outside?NoYes

On the way back to the grind I discussed the experience with the three other co-workers in my car. Everyone said their food was okay but not spectacular and the same for the service but we also all recognized that going on Cinco de Mayo is probably not the best time to judge a Mexican restaurant. Our server did the best job he could whenever he was able to make it to our table and waiting tables has always seemed like a high-stress job to me so I'm not pointing fingers here. We agreed to give Javier's in Irvine a tentative three and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Other Javier's Reviews:

What are these links doing way down here? By analyzing my site traffic I have found that people often come to this entry and instantly click on the link to the official Javier's website without even skimming the review given here. Oddly enough, there are more pictures here of their food and information about their location in Irvine than even their official site has. We still certainly want people to be able to go to the official site so the link is still provided.

Official Site

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on Google Maps


joy said...

Man, those enchiladas are making my mouth water! What's up with the spinach enchilada -- that sauce is almost neon! But hey, I'd try it. Did you catch what was in that? Was it just spinach inside, or was the spinach just in the sauce, or what?

Anonymous said...

I ordered the Spinach Enchiladas because my Vegetarian friend said they were his favorite. They are awesome! From what I remember, the spinach enchiladas were filled with cooked spinach, some vegetables wrapped in a corn tortilla smothered in mozzarella cheese and green sauce. It was a lite meal with much flavor that was MMmmm sooo good! :)

joy said...

Mmm, that sounds great! This is the "problem" with going to restaurants when I've heard such good and lengthy reviews -- too many things I want to try on the first trip. How to decide?!?

ChristianZ said...

I haven't even tried the tamales they are famous for but I'm hoping to soon. Maybe next time I go I'll get the spinach enchiladas with an a la carte tamale.

Elaine said...

Management or something has changed here. Prices have gone up slightly and tamales look different now. Chimichanga de mariscos is DELISH. FULL of crab and shrimp and ooey gooey cheese

ChristianZ said...

Hmm, I'll have to check it out and see how it's different now. I wonder if the management changed in Laguna as well and how it affects their plans to open a Crystal Cove location.

fbai said...

Good Food with a Bad Experience Our dinner was very tasty and I really enjoyed the food. All the tastes and sauces were very authentic and I like the atmosphere. What ruined it for me was at the end of the meal I found out that we were being "Charged for extra Tortillas" and we also got an explanation that they were doing us a favor by letting me pack some salsa with my doggy bag. I did not know that tortillas and salsa make such an impact on a restaurant. That's like charging extra for dinner rolls at other restaurants. I also brought my two toddlers and we got popped for mandatory 18 percent tip on 4 adults and 2 kids. That rent at Irvine Spectrum must be hurting them. I'm glad I did not have a second cup of water. That's too bad, the food was good too.

Irma said...

I spend a lot of time at the Irvine spectrum and I have to say it. I love Javier's!!!.. I'm full Mexican who grew up down deep in Mexico. Here we have many "Mexican" restaurants, but not as Mexican as Javier's. I mean, don't get me wrong, there is a lot of restaurants that are way more authentic, but Javier's keeps the authentic flavor while targeting a mostly non-Mexican population, something that many other restaurants disregarded.

Just to let you know, in the blog you said that your first time at Javier's was on Cinco de Mayo and there was a lot of people waiting to celebrate Mexico's independence day. Mexico's independence day is September 16. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Batalla the Puebla (the battle of Puebla), when Mexican troops defeated the French. A celebration that is way more celebrated in the U.S. than in Mexico. I guess because the French got their behind kicked.

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, I found out later May 5 is not their Independence Day but never changed the information here. Thanks for giving us the correct information on the matter.

Anonymous said...

I have been there twice and ordered the same thing - Soft tacos with carne asada. They were delicious!!! I am picky about my mexican food and I would definitely recommend this restaurant.

John R said...


Mark said...

Hey, congrats on the search optimization. You came up number one on a Google search on "Javier's Irvine Spectrum". I like how you make people scroll all the way down to find the outbound link - not your fault their site is nowhere in the search rankings!

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, I'm not trying to keep people from going to Javier's official site. I just want them to view what's here first and when I used to have the link near the top people would click on it right away, quicker than they did with reviews of other restaurants here at this blog. Some food bloggers don't include links to restaurants' official sites at all.

Anonymous said...

i hate Javier

ChristianZ said...

Do you have any information as to why?

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say that Javier's (Irvine) was the absolute WORST dining experience I've ever had! From the moment my sister and I walked in the door, it was nothing but rudeness galore. The hostesses were rude and snide, the food was luke warm and o.k. tasting at best, the server hardly stopped by our table that we waited over an hour for (even though there were plenty of tables open). By the way...on my birthday to boot! I will NEVER go back and I would NOT recommend this "restaraunt" to anyone who wants to actually enjoy dining out. Try El Torito Grill instead.

Anonymous said...

I second the comment about the rude hostess. As soon as we entered the restaurant we were greeted with, "No strollers allowed in here." This was after we raced across the Spectrum from the parking structure to make it in time for our reservation. She could have cared less about our stroller and our 8 people for dinner on a not so crowded evening. Food was no better than El Torrito which has way BETTER service. Let me tell you something Javier, the economy is not so strong...better start treating your families w/ a little more respect. Suggestion: create stroller parking outside your restaurant with a sign and offer to assist your GUESTS.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the comment. I have noted a very snooty attitude from many of the Javier's workers. There are a few exceptions but the no stroller policy is uncalled for. Javier's is popular because it's popular and not because there's much of substance to back up that popularity. The best thing for the public to do is to take their business elsewhere until Javier's shapes up.

Anonymous said...

Javiers..Cabo Azul...San Jose del cabo Mexico.Dec 31,2008
New years Eve,six guest, very average food(the worst in all of cabo)very very poor service.Had to wait half an hour for water an other half an hour for coffee.Loster was raw, had to wait for a new order, another half hour. Not enough staff. What a mistake this year we will spend our 600 dollars grilling in with non stop champange, then walk across the street to the beach for the traditional fireworks.Lcation decoration and music were fabulous.
Not enough to do it again...SORRY

ChristianZ said...

You don't have to apologize to me. Javier's has been letting many people down in many different ways. They weren't like that when I first found out about them.

Anonymous said...

fun place for students from u c irvine to meet and enjoy the good food. A little bit expensive for our budget. our club friends include mike lee, bobby hsu, tam tran, steven nam, victor nguyen, gladys mendoza, jackie zell, yvonne diaz, rudy bazan and carl attorney. Meet after the sears hall lecture. nice patio dining.

SS said...

Good Ambience but horrible customer service. Have you ever heard of an upscale restaurant charging extra to add green chillies to your guacamole???? Well they did!!! Nice restaurant but very bad management!!!!!

ChristianZ said...

That pretty much sums up my opinion of them.

PM said...

I agree with SS on the customer service. They would take back a dish we ordered and replaced it with something else at no charge but charge for green chillies??? Doesn't make sense on restaurant policies.

Anonymous said...

well first of all the no stroller policy is because they are a safety hazard, and also if it is not busy anyways you cant put it in because if they "allow" your stroller in and another person whose stroller wasnt allowed sees it they can sue for discrimination. Also imagine if the waitter trips over the stroller with his heavy tray of food on a customer, trust me those plates are pretty heavy plates w/ enough of those dropped on a person they can cause a serious injury. second the waiting even though there were "plenty" of tables open means that theres other people waiting for those tables thats why they're empty and they would be seated once called on a customer waiting on the waiting list for them. so for me javier's is the best mexican restaurant around these policies have more of a significance than they seem.

ChristianZ said...

You didn't say what you like about them. My personal opinion is that they are fine. I always got good service from the servers but the management was always very snooty to me. I continually tried to get information from Javier and his wife about their Crystal Cove location before it opened and they repeatedly ignored me. I was then told later that Javier said he refuses to stoop down to the level of food bloggers by communicating with them. He also doesn't realize that I've sent a ton of business his way. So, Javier, thanks for being snooty.

And one thing I don't like about the restaurant is perhaps the customers' fault more than Javier's fault, and it's that it's popular because it's popular, more than being popular by deserving popularity (although I'm not saying it's entirely undeserving). It's just one of those places people feel like they have to say is their favorite because they get the sense that they better act like they are in on the hip thing.

Anonymous said...

I went to Javiers- Newport last night with a party of 12 for a birthday. From the minute I drove into the parking lot I thought I was being punked. You HAVE to valet park. If you try to park somewhere you could be towed. The hostess was really rude. When attempting to purchase a drink at the bar for someone in the party the waiter from the table, also rude, informed me that I was not allowed to buy a drink at the bar for myself or anyone. He said that all drinks needed to be transferred to table. I explained that it was a gift and if I put it on the "one check" (also a policy) at the table it would not be a gift. He got the manager !!! I won't tell you what I told him. I own a restaurant and I have never heard of this policy. The food was barely ok and they charged $2.50 ea for cupcakes brought in.
No plates, forks, service, or a dishwasher are needed to eat a cupcake, its like a cookie. I understand a minimal fee but this charge seemed extreme. I will NEVER go back !!!

ChristianZ said...

Yikes, the complaints keep pouring in.

Anonymous said...

I went for dinner at Javier's Newport location on July 4, 2013 with my wife. Our service was extremely slow and the server seemed more interested in taking care of the table across from us, including lots of drink orders for a group of 10. Our food arrived cold and shortly after leaving the restaurant, I started getting stomach cramps which continued through the night. The following day, I spoke to two senior managers, including Javier Jr. They were both pretty complacent about the level of service and did not take any ownership of the possibility that our cold food would have contracted any bacteria. Mostly, I was disappointed because we have been known by one of the senior managers as "regulars." I received no apology, instead I was greeted with excuses. When any business makes a mistake, the best policy is to take ownership and apologize quickly.

Our family, friends and business associates have patronized the establishments from the old days. We even patronized the Tortilla Flats location in Mission Viejo where the original Javier was the head chef. Unfortunately, I believe the new establishment has become apathetic about its customers and cares more about just raking in the cash. My experience is it will catch up to them one day if they don't listen to its customers.

I don't usually blog, but want to make it clear to others that something is amiss at Javier's. For me, I will not patronize Javier's. I think they will eventually end up like Tortilla Flats, which is now closed.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the comment. We have a separate review of their Newport location. I haven't been to any of them in over five years. They get plenty of business from the local residents and that seems to be all they care about.

Anonymous said...

My comment is not lengthy because a friend and I walked out after asking the female hostess a question, not once, but two times, and were blatantly ignored. Business must be booming to drive away paying customers right off the bat. Someone needs to remind that little mamcita that she is a hostess. At a Mexican restaurant. In a mall. Luckily we left before my east coast, Italian mouth got the best of me :)

ChristianZ said...

Yeah, they tend to act that way.