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Mar 28, 2007 12:00 PM

Mama Iguana- Northampton, MA

Has anyone been to Mama Iguana, the new Mexican place where La Cazuela used to be? It's the latest restaurant from the owner of Spoleto, Del Raye, and Paradiso.

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  1. Yes. It was not a good experience. I don't know if it's an issue of it being a new restaurant and things have just not been worked out but we waited a very long time for our food--about an hour. Granted we were a large group (8) but it was a Monday evening. Duties among staff still need to be worked out. Water (which was warm and without ice and in small glasses) was a long time coming. Our waitress was perpetually messing up. Our food came out in various stages and the appropriate sides seemed to never match the entrees. Some of our entrees were wrong. The waitress did not do a good job explaining the menu. They seemed to be trying too hard to be "authentic." The food was not that good for what we paid--and endured. Sure it's a cute restaurant but the small size means it gets very loud. Am not planning on going back.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. If you're going to open, be ready to open. Tried to order to go on 8th day and was turned away after spending 5 minutes on hold. Typically and unfortunately, the staff was rude as well (even though the owner is not) so it added to the experience. Agree with above...get bottled in Northampton however, with amazing modern conveniences shouldn't be warm.

        1. re: nohosgotnofood

          i went with a group of 5 last week. i agree that the drinks were excellent- house margaritas and sangria were top notch. we had a mixed reaction to our food. first off, there really needs to be an option for corn tortillas on the menu. the filling for the carne asada tacos was delicious, but were served with flour tortillas. i also had a chop chop salad with chipotle chicken that was pretty good, but not great and my friend had a pork mole dish that was far too salty. hopefully, the place will improve once it settles in.

      2. Went to this restaurant on Saturday night, I wasn't extremely impressed.
        The drink menu was definitely the best thing about the place.
        The service was okay, but not great. the appetizer was cold and came out at the same time as the entrees.
        I got the Mole Verde with chicken, and it was basically a giant pile of watery chicken with a tiny bit of flavorless sauce on top. Would definitely not order it again, but my friend got the carne asada which he was happy with.
        I would be willing to try this place out again, but my first experience was kind of so-so.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alice11

          I've been three times and have been underwhelmed every visit. I won't be back. The food is too heavy on a variety of semi-authentic moles that saturate either shredded pork or chicken. The tacos were embarrasing. The beans and rice are third rate. Guacamole was very good, prepared tableside. The help is not well trained; was charged for items I didn't order twice. The margs were small, overpriced and poorly prepared. I don't know what the owner is thinking (he does a fine job with Del Raye, Spoleto, and Paradiso) but he has a real loser on his hands here. The place needs a complete overhaul already.

          1. re: Big Fat Moe

            Are we really surprised that once again, a pseudo-ethnic place opens up w/the typically Noho combo mediochre food, high prices, poor service, a hokey name, etc? When it comes to good food, this town is a bit cursed...

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          1. Ooh - Tableside Guac! That's so...2005. And not even that good. The Guac was a bit dry where it could have used a dash of lime juice. Or some of the juice from my watery crabmeat enchilada. The salt is supposed to be on the rim of a Margarita glass, not stirred into the drink. I know the laminated drink menu with 57 varieties of Tequila is supposed to impress the hipsters, or at least the psuedo hipsters, but the folks at La Cazuela - this restaurant's predecessor - prepared fabulous margaritas, and more imaginative food, at more reasonable prices. I only just returned to Northampton after spending eight months down south, so you would think, after almost a year of Nascar and Fried Chicken, I would be grateful to return to Northampton, a town I once, with only a dash of irony, referred to as "The Paris of Western Massachusetts". No more. It's like being George Bailey and discovering Old Man Claudio - I mean, Potter, really does own Bedford Falls. Green Street Cafe - GONE! La CaZauela - GONE! Cha Cha Cha's - GONE! Bart's - GONE! Okay those last two one left awhile ago but I still miss them. And do we really need yet another Dunkin' Donuts? On Main Street, no less? Has this town no shame? Okay, back to Mama Iguana. Our waitperson was very good - attentive without being obsequious -nice job with the tableside gauc, BTW - But by then I had mistaken my Margarita for a glass of seawater, my forearm was sticking to the plastic tablecloth, and the salsa had already disappointed with its blandness. My wife had eaten here one month previously and was disappointed with her meal then. So the good news is that her expectations were precisely met this time. So you have to give Mama Iguana's credit for consistency. That's not easy in the restaurant biz. My take on this place is that Mr. Claudio Guerra, who already owns several fine restaurants in Northampton, saw a business opportunity here, and, like Citizen Kane ("I think it would be fun to run a newspaper") saw it as one more sprig of Laurel for his toque. But that's the problem. This is a franchise, or something posing as one. The Guerra Food Court is getting crowded. Any great or even good restaurant depends on a precarious mix of location, staff, chefs, and passion. So far, Mama Iguana has a great location. But that's not enough. And that's too bad, because this town could really use a good Mexican restaurant. Until the recent demise of La Cazuela, it had one.

            2 Replies
            1. re: wijiji

              I do agree that the closing of the (original, not India House-owned) Cha's was a loss. But I had a terrible meal at La Cazuela and, despite a good margarita, vowed never to go back -- so I can't agree with you there. Certainly the reviews of Iguana Mama's don't inspire me to visit that space now.

              1. re: hollerhither

                Or should I correct, Mama Iguana's. :) Getting the name wrong isn't a good sign, I guess!