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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Javier's at the Crystal Cove Promenade

Javier's Cantina & Grill
@ the Crystal Cove Promenade
7832 E Pacific Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(949) 494-1239
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The Internet has been abuzz lately with people searching Yahoo! and Google for information on "Javier's Crystal Cove Promenade" or "Javier's Cantina & Grill at Crystal Cove Promenade" in Newport Beach (Newport Coast area) and this is the place to come for such information (keep scrolling down and you'll see what I mean). When I drove by the construction site on January 26 somebody there told me that it'd be opening up on February 9. Of course that is subject to change but that is the best information we have right now. (Don't get Crystal Cove confused with Crystal Court at South Coast Plaza. Also, it's not Crystal Grove or Crystal Cover as some people have been searching for.)

Here's two pictures from the construction site:



This entry will be updated as we get more information on the opening and after I make a visit there at the restaurant and try the food.


Today (February 9) is opening day and I stopped by for lunch but found out they won't open until dinner tonight so I made reservations for later today. They then let me take a few pictures of their beautiful property, which more closely follows the visual theme and decor of their Irvine location than their old Laguna location:










After the Dinner (The Grand Opening)

I don't think I need to report on what Javier's was like once it finally opened up because I'm pretty sure every person in Orange County was there. What a madhouse it was. Anyways, Joy and Carter met me for dinner there and it was a good thing I had made reservations earlier in the day. I heard some people arriving off the street and being told there was a three hour wait.


We started out with the queso fundido which was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Actually, it was so thick you had to cut it with a knife:


Unlike queso fundido I've had before this kind came with warm corn tortillas to scoop it into. It was pretty good with the mushrooms and olives but we didn't notice the chorizo that the menu said would be in it.

I can't remember exactly what Joy got but I believe it was a lobster quesadilla which she said she enjoyed:


While Carter got the carnitas platter:


(As you can tell the lighting was very dim.) I went for the "Cabo Azul" which is basically a Mexican seafood extravaganza comprised of a lobster enchilada topped with a chili verde sauce, a shrimp chili relleno, and a fish taco, with my favorite being the fish taco:


I finished up with the flan for dessert:


I keep waiting for Javier's to come up with a snazzier presentation for its flan but food quality is even more important than presentation and on that account Javier's flan scores pretty high.

Considering the extreme hecticness of the evening the wait staff did an admirable job of handling the crowd (now that I think about it the crowd must've also included every person from Los Angeles County). I'm planning on going back when things simmer down a little bit to get some better quality pictures of their food in the daylight.

I should also mention that this location has the sort of high class restroom that has a full-time attendant who dispenses your hand soap for you and hands you towels when you're done washing your hands, and an array of breath mints and other niceties and accoutrements the likes of which I haven't seen yet during my experience writing this blog. I'm going to have to remember to tip for the giant Lifesaver I helped myself to on the way out when I go back for my next visit to Javier's. Of course, I have no idea how the women's restroom is run.

See the complete photo album with more and bigger and better quality photos at flickr. You can also View it as a slideshow (best option)

Apparently people are so taken by the design of this new restaurant that a lot of people are now searching on "javier's crystal cove designer." If anybody knows who the designer was please leave a comment.

CLICK HERE to read all our extensive Javier's Cantina coverage including information on their old location, this new location (that you just read about), their other location that is still open, and their location at a Mexican resort (includes a couple dozen photos). After that you can check out their official site (which, oddly enough, has less information than this site does . . . but is still worth checking out). UPDATE: Their official site does have a little bit more information on it now.

Official Site

I have to add that the overwhelming consensus I get on this place is that you go for the atmosphere, not the food. I actually think the food is fine and the servers I've had have all done a good job but the management is very snooty and has repeatedly ignored all requests for information, and I've been told they've said they think they are too good to talk to food bloggers, thereby earning them a Slowpoke Rodriguez:

Slowpoke Rodriguez

If you are more concerned about getting upscale Mexican food from a place that is similar to Javier's but more about the food (but still has a great atmosphere) consider checking out Taleo in Irvine.


joy said...

I agree - I think everyone in OC was already there that night! I'm looking forward to going back when it's not so crowded so I can look around more. I was not crazy about the queso fundido, but I really liked my lobster quesadilla, and the refried beans were great.

And yes, the women's bathroom also had a lot of products in it, and someone standing there to hand you a paper towel. She didn't dispense my hand soap for me though, which is fine with me!

Anonymous said...

The Designer is Dodd Mitchell Design.

ChristianZ said...

Thank you. Making your link clickable:

Dodd Mitchell

Grizzwald said...

There is no point to going if you don’t have a reservation. I witnessed a shouting match between a makeshift bouncer and some rich snobby lady.

The wait was a kick in the pants, but the food was mucho delicious. Don’t be surprised if you see many of the Real OC housewives.

ChristianZ said...

Yes, I would say definitely make a reservation and if you don't make one and you go anyways and find they don't have room for you then don't get mad at them. Or kick back in one of the nice waiting areas and wait your turn.

the gu said...

Welcome to the Persian Coast. The space is great as long as you are cool with the four hour wait. The crowd is typical OC in all its Gaudy Splendor. Valet your Ferrari or Lambo and prepare to act cheesy. Javi's has officially jumped the Shark, not bad for a guy who used to be a busboy.

ChristianZ said...

I suggest making reservations. Then again, it's the place to be seen and they do have some nice outside waiting areas.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the Crystal Cove location has lost all the charm and flavor of the Laguna location...Too much like any other over crowded mexican restaurant!!!

ChristianZ said...

So is the solution to drive some of the customers away? Maybe it's my fault they are so crowded. I had their opening date mentioned long before anywhere else mentioned it. Actually I don't know where else it was mentioned except for a very obscure reference on the Register's website one day before.

Anonymous said...

Im surprised no one has mentioned the one thing that stuck out to me and everyone else in my party.
The nonstop obnixious intercom announcing when everyones table was ready. It is about as elegant as being in a Chunky Cheese Pizza Parlor. Havent they heard about the nice quiet pagers that light up when your table is ready? The place is loud enough without that intercom!

dizzi nee said...

unfortunately, now that Javier's is in Crystal Cove, it is ruined for many of us. It used to be a wonderful local hangout in Laguna Beach. Now it is over glamorized and a scene. If your not all cheesed out and in flashy cars, you'll be pushed to the side. I know it was the best decision for Javier to move to a bigger spot and pay less on rent, so Cheers to him, but we miss the good ol restaurant on PCH we called on twice a week. Now it's been months since we can even get in. :(

Arty said...

One of the designers is here in Paris. Her name is Ann Marie Vering and she worked for Dodd Mitchell Design at the time. Her site is

Dodd Mitchell Design

ChristianZ said...

Thank you for that information. The Dodd Mitchell link is included in a comment above but I'm making your other link clickable here:

Ann Vering

Anonymous said...

I went to Javier's for lunch with a group of women. We enjoyed the lunch, but were presented with a bill which overcharged us. We challenged it and were then given a correct bill. They explained that the computer had charged us for the dinner rate instead of the lunch rate. We wonder if the entire restaurant was overcharged or if our waiter entered the wrong amount thinking we would not notice. We don't like feeling cheated and definitely will not go there again! The management obviously didn't care about the "mistake".

ChristianZ said...

Hopefully it was a one time thing. But you do have to wonder if they were just hoping you wouldn't notice. Out of all the restaurants I go to the management at Javier's is by far the snootiest. Somehow they still manage to be the most searched on restaurant here. Keep looking throughout the site for some more recommendations. Chances are you'll have a better experience almost anywhere else. E-mail me at if you want me to help you narrow the choices down.

Anonymous said...

I went to Javier's (Crystal Cove) today to purchase a gift card and to make a reservation for a holiday lunch for 11 in two weeks. I was appalled by the attitude of the manager...she insisted that she couldn't make seating accommodations for me ahead of time (I wanted to see where my party would be seated - I didn't consider this an outrageous request). She then informed me they would not do separate checks (was this because I was female and she thought I wouldn't pay for my guests???) I informed her I was picking up the tab...she then said "we add on an 18% gratuity" - I said "oh, that's a shame, I usually tip 20% - but 18% will be fine." All in all, after getting home, I'm cancelling the reservation and will go somewhere else. Any suggestions?

ChristianZ said...

You bring up some good points. I have always found the management at Javier's to be very snooty. The servers tend to be fine and I'm okay with the food. The funny thing is that Javier's is the most searched for restaurant BY FAR at this blog. I mean it absolutely blows everything else out of the water and gets way more attention and I just don't know what warrants it. I was just thinking recently that I should append this entry with recommendations of other places to go and now that you've asked I can mention them: Taleo, Gabbi's and Taco Rosa would be the first three (Taleo's food is similar to Javier's but better and without the snobbery but still in a very nice location - look for the link in this entry just below the Slowpoke Rodriguez icon). I'd also recommend using the Help Panel at the top of this blog to point you to more information and direct links to all our Gabbi's and Taco Rosa coverage. Also, feel free to e-mail me at for more information.

Anonymous said...

Parking sucks, food is plain, the OC want to be's is funny. 909 girls and persians dressed ugly and acting they are above the rest is the norm. You can tell the locals, were all dressed very casual... I turned down all offers from friends to goto this place. Staff and bouncers are the worst!!!!

Anonymous said...

I never even got through the front door. My five month year-old daugther and I were supposed to meet a girlfriend there for lunch. Once we got there, we were rudely informed that "no strollers were allowed." The place had just opened for lunch and there was no crowd by any means. I was told to leave the stroller outside. I didn't realize the place was so anti-kids. All we wanted to do was to enjoy lunch out on the patio with a friend and my baby but I guess that was asking too much.

ChristianZ said...

Sorry to hear about the bad experience. If I had been able to get this review and its comments to you before you went I could've warned you about their very rude no-stroller policy. Javier's has turned into a place for the Real Housewives crowd to see and be seen and that's about it.

Anonymous said...

I do like the embience of Javiers/Crystal Cove. What struck me as just plain weird and out-of-touch was that they quoted me a very large price to reserve a table for a party of 12. When i saw the table it was far from special. It's simply a table large enough for 12, out in the open with no privacy!! It sat in between two large dining rooms with absolutely no privacy at all!!!

They quoted me a very large deposit just to "get the table", then told me the food would be deducted from the table deposit, however, any charges for drinks (alcohol or otherwise) would not be applied to the deposit. Any left over money from the table deposit goes directly to the house. OMG!!!! Losers!!!! I figured out that each person would have to consume a hundred dollars or more each to cover the table deposit!!

Kind of weird that people who bring large parties for dinner are penalized with a large table deposit.

ChristianZ said...

Decent food, good waiters, great ambience, bad management about sums them up.

Anonymous said...

There is a faul smell when we had dinner that Javier's that they covers up with burning incense or candles. When I complained of the smell to management he said he could cover up the sewer smell for us and that was the best he could do. I sent the food back and paid for some over priced drinks and never to visit any
there locations.

Sally said...

Javier's used to be so good. Since moving to Crystal Cove they lost everything that made them successful! The door staff is vulgar and rude. The reservations are never kept on time. Management is arrogant. I am so disappointed in a restaurant that once was so great! Both times I have eaten (with my seating time being almost an hour later than my reservation time) the food was cold.

I would give Javiers a F! This is one place I will not be going to again!

Anonymous said...

I was there this weekend. The surrounding was very nice. The place was beautiful. My margarita was the bomb. When my food came. I could not beleive how moist my chicken and beef came out. They have the best beans with cheese. The salsa that came with chips was the best. Sometimes going to other restaurants the salsa is soo hot you can't enjoy it. I had two servings. I defiantly will go back again and again. So romantic if you are a couple. So nice to go out with a bunch of girls, So nice to take your family out. I give it 2 thumbs up in restaurant rating a 10 the best

ChristianZ said...

Glad you liked it. Are you going to "defiantly" go back or "definitely" go back?