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Paseo Cantina, Pasadena (a review)

On Christmas Eve, my friend and I stopped in for a late lunch around 2-ish. This restaurant is in the space where Border Grill used to be in Paseo Colorado in Pasadena (next to PF Chang’s). It has been renovated and is a very lovely space. The west and south walls are mostly floor-to-ceiling windows. They have Mariachis and Folklorio dancers from Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday for brunch. We were the only ones there when we walked in, but by the time we left (at 4) there were several tables that were filled.
They brought us a platter of four-colored chips and two delicious salsas and there were cheese quesadillas on that plate, too! YUM! We each ordered the house margaritas (on the rocks, with salt, thankyouverymuch!) and got down to deciding what we wanted to eat. They have two soups which are permanently on the menu (albondigas & tortilla) and one soup of the day. That was Mariscos on this particular day. My friend ordered this. I ordered the chicken flautas. They have some very delicious-looking items on the menu, which I will try next time (see attached link).
Our waiter, the Winona, MN transplant, and very gracious and professional, Steffen, brought us freshly made HOT tortillas with butter. We were all over those. My friend made them up like she used to do in Merida when she was little – a little butter, a little salt and a squeeze of lime (dipped in salsa if you want) and quickly eaten! So good! I think when all was said and done, he had brought us fresh tortillas 4 times!!
Our food arrived and her soup had so much seafood in it – scallops, shrimp, etc. She loved it. Mine came with the two flautas cut in half and standing up on the plate – nice presentation. Chicken was good, but was made much better with the salsa slathered on! Service was friendly and very attentive, but not overbearingly so. It was perfect.
The owned stopped by to see how we were doing and we chatted for a while. He stopped by a couple more times. He is very gracious and is obviously proud of his establishment. He said that this is his first restaurant venture. I think he got it right. We were so comfortable there that we both agreed that if she did not have to go back to work, we would have sat there for more than the 2 hours we did!
Steffen brought us more quesadillas stating “here are some just-off-the-grill quesadillas”. Then the owner came by again and told us that he was going to buy us dessert and would send over the tray. We looked at each other and laughed since we were so full, we thought (read: thought) we could not eat any more.
Well, here comes the dessert tray: 3 choices: Fresas con crema, Coconut Flan and Crepas con Cajete. I said that we could share one, but the owner said that we each had to get our own. Nancy got the strawberries and I got the coconut flan.
When the desserts arrived, they were beautiful. Her fresas con crema came in an edible bowl made of an almond-brittle-type mixture and was delicious, sticky, sinful. My flan was one of the best I have ever had. All of a sudden, surprisingly, we had room!! Imagine that!! ;-) We agreed that the flan was the best and ate it all.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant. Definitely. Service is wonderful and the food is great. Wonderful space and atmosphere. Go!
They have happy hour from 3-6:30, with botanas and drink specials.

http://paseocantina.com/index.html

Paseo Cantina
260 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 203, Pasadena, CA 91101
Paseo Colorado on Upper Fountain Court, next to P.F. Chang's

Hours:
Monday: 11am to 10pm
Tuesday & Wednesday: 11am to 11pm
Thursday: 11am to 12midnight
Friday & Saturday: 11am to 1am
Sunday: 10am to 10pm (brunch)

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  1. thanks for a nicer review. i walked by the day since it's right next to my gym and was glad it wasn't another "islands" thype of restaurant. what are the prices like? i try your link to their website but all i get is a page with a marachi lady on it.

    10 Replies
    1. re: trolley

      A little more than La Fiesta Grande and Mijares, but definitely reasonable as this is more of an upscale type place. The prices do not show up on the website, but they do have their menu there.
      Maybe this link will work?
      http://paseocantina.com/menu.html

      1. re: WildSwede

        Their website does not seem to work if you're using Firefox. I was having the same problem until I tried Exploiter.

        1. re: Jack Flash

          Sorry Jack!
          I went again today for lunch and since their coconut flan was so fantastic and I knew I wanted it again - along with their piping hot & delicious freshly-made tortillas, I ordered the Chicken Tortilla soup today. A little history, for the past 7 years, I have been searching for a tortilla soup as delicious as the one I had in Cabo San Jose, and have failed miserably in finding it - until now. Paseo Cantina's was dead on - they hit the nail on the head. I was in heaven as I was slurping down every last drop of it. Fantastic! I will definitely be getting that again. My friend ordered the Chicken Flautas and really liked them.
          We requested Steffen as our waiter and he was just as good and attentive as last time. We arrived around 1:30 and the place was hopping pretty good.
          I really hope that the word gets out about this restaurant and that it stays around for a long time. It is a wonderful space with great service and good food.
          Happy New Year!

          1. re: WildSwede

            Thanks for your review of this place, and your follow up about the Chicken Tortilla soup. That sounds really good! Will have to try it, and the coconut flan.

            1. re: slacker

              The soup, fresh tortillas (be sure to ask for them) and the coconut flan is going to by my staple order there from now on.

              1. re: WildSwede

                Hi WildSwede, I went there for dinner recently, had the chicken tortilla soup--delicious!, nopales salad, their house made tortillas and a house margarita. All of the food was very good; the house margarita was ok.
                I was really up for a good experience, but everything from the time I walked in to the time I paid the bill, felt unprofessional, rushed, and everyone who worked there just seemed sort of in a tizzy. The restaurant was about half full most of the time I was there. Our waitress seemed friendly, but service was bad. I had to try to flag her down for every single thing. Everything. She seemed friendly the whole time until the bill was paid, and then she dropped the fake smile. I guess that show was over for her, and onto the next show. I didn't bother trying to get dessert since i didn't feel like trying to flag her down again, and she never offered. She seemed so frantically busy, like there wasn't enough wait staff for that large space. I just wanted out of there. Too bad, since what I ate was very good.

                1. re: slacker

                  ARGGG! I am so sorry you had a poor experience. Both times I have been I had the same waiter (Steffen - only there during days) and he was very attentive. Please tell me you spoke with Oscar the owner... or at least give him a call and tell him your experience. He will definitely do something about it.
                  I always feel horrible when I make a recommendation and someone does not have the same experience as I did. I'm sorry, slacker!

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Probably the luck of the draw. Plus I was there between the two holidays, even though the restaurant was only half full...
                    Everything I ate was very good, so I'm sure I'll be back, plus want to try that coconut flan.
                    If I have the same kind of experience next time, I guess I'll have to look for Oscar.

                    1. re: slacker

                      Could be, but still, no one should be treated that way, especially when that person is paying!
                      I am glad that you will be going back. Next time, if you go during the day, ask for Steffen. He will treat you right! AND that flan is fantastic!!

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        We had to try this place based on your great description and it was every bit as good as you said including the service. We started with the tortilla soup which was excellent. It was spicy and clean and not overloaded with veggies. We had the guacamole which was very good and made tableside with the waiter asking which ingredients we wanted as he made it. We also split an order of flautas. They were very good especially with a topping of guacamole on each bite. I ordered the flan with some coffee and enjoyed it to the last bite. The coffee was excellent and I'm not a real coffee drinker but this tasted like the real cafe mexicano my mom used to make. We are looking forward to taking a large crowd to the Sunday brunch to enjoy the mariachis and the buffet which includes menudo/pozole. Thanks Swede for the recommendation.

    2. Awesome! I've been meaning to go since it opened, and I appreciate this review. :)

      1. When I looked in a couple weeks ago, the dessert case was filled with what looked like Porto's desserts. Dead ringers. The place was also empty, with a few people in the bar. Dining room completely empty, though. Let's hope they don't get involved with the same leasing issues the Border Grill did, and perhaps the mall can support it a bit more with advertising. That side of the complex just doesn't do well. Although, Bodega gets a steady stream of business, and PF changs is always packed. I thought the servers outfits were atrocious. Just cheesy. Er, no pun intended....

        3 Replies
        1. re: diningdivala

          Yeah, that side is pretty bad. Kind of an afterthought. I can't wait til the weather warms up and they put chairs and tables on the little patio that overlooks Colorado Blvd. I used to love to go to Border Cafe for happy hour and sip their Sangria and apps and just relax!! The Jazz Institute seems to stay quite busy, too. Yeah, those outfits had me laughing. I asked my friend if Steffen was supposed to be a wealthy Ranchero and she said that that is the outfit of the wealthy (way back). We thought it was pretty funny. Would do better with those gorgeous blouses with the buttons down the front and the details on the left and right sides (not sure what they are called, but I think they are so classy and beautiful!).

          1. re: WildSwede

            Its been a long time since I visited that part of the Paseo I didnt even know something had opened up. I really miss the Border Grill and used to go weekly but it didnt make it. If this place is as good as you say: I need to support it. I think the location is a tough one without good foot traffic and that has hurt every restaurant that has been up in that area.
            I honestly think that when those restaurants were first put in they thought that the residents who lilve above would come down and dine but that didnt happen. The rents are SO high they probably cant afford it. I know that for two friends of mine thats the case. I am going to check it out today.

            Thanks for the heads up.

            1. re: thomtompkins

              Yeah, it is too bad. I hope they make it. When we went for lunch on Friday (after 1) and the place was about 1/2 full. I was happy to see that. I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to ask for the tortillas. My friend and I did a tour of those apartments there summer before last and we were in shock that the cheapest one at that time (a hideous single with concrete floors, at that) was over $1900!!

        2. Thank you WildSwede. You're spoiling me with your well-written reviews. I love Mexican food and usually find myself at Mijares when I'm in Pasadena. Definitely looking forward to trying Paseo Cantina. I also keep wanting to go to La Fiesta Grande, but haven't yet. I need to break the Mijares habit. By the way, a margarita on the rocks with salt - my favorite cocktail.

          2 Replies
          1. re: omakase

            I don't mind La Fiesta Grande, but does anyone else think it's a little too Americanized?

            1. re: kchangambrose

              Yeah, but it is a great neighborhood place to just stop in for a meal that you know is going to be good. I love both of their fish dishes and they serve the best Carne Asada (whole steak, not the chopped-up kind) - although they sometimes cook it less than my medium rare (but it is okay with me). Their all-you-can-eat taco bar is a great deal if you are a big eater, too. Also, their La Fiesta Enchiladas are good as is their Cocido de Res - YUM! Now I am hungry!! ;-) I love their margaritas.

          2. Better get to Pasea Cantina soon. I’m afraid they won’t be open much longer if yesterday is the norm. We were there for lunch yesterday (Saturday) and were the only customers in the restaurant. There from about 11:45 am to 12:45. We liked the food. The service was decent. Thought it would have been nice if a manager stopped by to say hello since they didn’t seem to have much else to do.

            1. Great review. Can I ask if the music was too loud? I am tempted to go for dinner but don't like the idea of competing with the music...

              Thanks,
              Clare

              3 Replies
              1. re: Clare K

                Unfortunately, I have not made it for dinner (yet). I have only been for lunch. Sorry!

                1. re: Clare K

                  We went for Sunday brunch and they seated us right next to the stage and even that close the music wasn't too loud. That said, I don't recommend the brunch. It was 16.95 (includes a glass of champagne), but neither of us felt the food was worth it. That said, the music and dancing was great and we had a blast. We will go back for the regular menu and the show some day, but we won't be back for the brunch.

                  1. re: Clare K

                    we were there for dinner w/ performance. It does get loud at times, enough to halt the conversation. But it wasn't continuous, like at Gaucho's Village, where you can't talk for a long long time.

                  2. I tried it tonight and the music was WAY too loud - the mariachi band is good, but it makes it impossible to have a conversation. I also thought the prices were pretty high...$16.95 for two small tacos, beans and rice? I had the chicken fajitas, which were dry. The flour tortillas were good, though.

                    I think I could go back again for happy hour, but probably not for dinner...

                    1. I tried the Paseo Cantina tonight with my family. I thought the space was very nice, and I liked the fresh roses on every table, as well as the large windows. The chips and salsa were good. They came with a tomatillo salsa and a red salsa. I would've liked a pico de gallo as well. We liked the tomatillo salsa better than the red one.

                      It would've been nice to have a larger portion of chips-- they went quickly. Food was good all around-- trio fajitas (chicken, steak and shrimp), chicken enchiladas with green sauce, and carne asada taco plate. The food tasted fresh. One thing I really liked was their agua de frutas, which was basically an agua fresca made with fresh watermelon, canteloupe and strawberry, with small chunks of fruit at the bottom of the cup. It was great, and I got a free refill on that.

                      We also got the coconut flan dessert, but the texture was a bit too thick and not creamy enough. I don't know if this was a bad batch or if it was supposed to be that way. Service was a bit too slow, but the food was very good. Cost after tax and tip was about $25 per person, including non-alcoholic drinks. The music is after 7PM, so we missed that. I'll go back.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: katkoupai

                        Glad you liked it! We always get quesadillas with our chips and when we ask for more, they are more than happy to refill. Next time, just ask. Did you have any of their freshly made tortillas? My meal of choice there is Tortilla Soup with many (MANY) fresh, HOT tortillas with butter, sprinkling of salt and lime, and the Flan (I think you may have gotten a bad batch, since I have never noticed that it was too thick and not creamy). I prefer the darker of the two salsas - we always have to get about 3 refills of that one!! ;-)

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          Yes, we had one refill on the chips, but we were so hungry, that we wanted more. :) The chips also came with a few quesadilla triangles. We did not get freshly made tortillas. :( Actually, some tortillas may have come with the fajitas and tacos, but they did not come with our chips. I do think the flan was a bad batch because the texture was off. We did like the coconut-caramel sauce that was on top of it and on the plate, though. :-)

                          1. re: katkoupai

                            Ask, ask, ask! I have gotten 5-6 tortilla refills there in the past. Steffen never even blinks an eye!! ;-) Once they brought us a bowl of freshly-made (hot, steamy, melty) quesadillas. Just brought them. We didn't even ask.

                      2. Hey, Wild Swede - I loved your post about the cheese curds. Unfortunately I had about the opposite reaction to Paseo Cantina, and I thought I should chime in since our varied experiences may assist others (btw, I'm not a fan of Mijares or La Fiesta Grande either, so my tastes seem to fluctuate from other chowhounds on here). I'll post a shortened version of my review. Full text is here: http://feminary.blogspot.com/2008/02/...
                        The place felt cavernous - my husband called it a "Vegas arrangement," meaning cram as many people as possible in and who cares if there's flow or it feels at all pleasant. It was empty, but then we eat very early. Still, it was depressing. I felt bad for the waitstaff, forced to wear those ridiculous costumes you see at Chi-Chi's in the Midwest.
                        I appreciated the few stray pieces of quesadilla hiding in the chips. I started off with a virgin margarita (I'm pregnant). I didn't like the "house" version so I ordered peach, basically peach juice and 7-up I think. But I can't judge them for that. Margaritas aren't meant to be sans tequila.
                        Next the waiter wanted to entice us to buy soup, so he brought out a sample of their vegetable soup. It was cold. Not very enticing. And it was also fairly sad, just some potatoes and celery floating in greenish broth. We both tried one sip and didn't bother with more. I mean, why bring someone a sample of cold soup? (Oh, and it wasn't purposely cold, I'm pretty sure - it was kind of tepid
                        )I ordered the cactus salad but whenever I've gotten cactus in the past it's been fresh - kind of tangy and crunchy, a lot like jicama. Warning: this cactus is pickled. I just wasn't expecting that, I didn't care for it. And it was mixed up with pickled jalepeno and carrots (kind of like what they put on nachos at the movie theater). It was more like a condiment than a salad, but the fresh tortillas helped with eating it.
                        My husband's shrimp enchiladas, he said, were similar to the quality he'd expect from a Baja Fresh or a Rubio's (but at $18.95, very different price point). I had chicken enchiladas with green/sour cream sauce, usually a favorite. However, the chicken was kind of sweet, and didn't go well with the sauce. I ate two bites. We both got a scoop of rice (yes, in the shape of a scoop - classy), and I had beans which, kid you not, were worse than Rosarita brand from the grocery store (no flavor at all and a sickly color). Noticing I ate only a couple bites, the waiter asked about it, and I said I didn't care for it. He asked if I wanted to try something else. Well at that point I was done experimenting, so I said no. Then he asked if I wanted a box to take it home! Ha ha! I said no, I really didn't like it and didn't want to try it at home. He charged me $14.50 for my two bites. I didn't really expect to get it for free, it just would have been a bit of extra consideration.
                        We got the check - $65 with tip - which was so painful that I just couldn't think about it. It's probably the most expensive meal we'll eat this month, and I mostly filled up on chips and hated the food.
                        Overall, eating there made me miss Border Grill terribly. And you know, I heard the reason BG closed was that they wouldn't let them have a door on the side of the restaurant facing the elevators/escalators, so people had to walk all the way around it to find the entrance. Well the Cantina got the door right off the escalator. How nice for them. I want my Mary Sue and Susan. :(

                        1. after reading wild swede's endorsement, my wife and i tried it for lunch in early january. we are both serious mexican food fans, and appreciate both native and americanized stuff (though i cannot handle el cholo's anymore.)

                          what a disappointment. we thought everything from the service to the food to the drinks to the ambiance (or lack thereof) were very uninspired. will not go back. will be surprised if this place makes it.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: justanotherpenguin

                            Is there another place in the area that you like better?

                            1. re: katkoupai

                              unfortunately, katkoupai, you've hit the nail on the head with that question. the reason that we went to paseo so quickly is because we do find the mexican food wanting around here and we were hoping for a reversal of fates. we are at the point in our lives where we would prefer to drive and have a good meal rather than go close and be disappointed. and there are many disappointments out there.

                              we are still quite willing to drive to east la from la canada to go to el tepeyac on evergreen. definitely the best burritos and machaca overall. (many people prefer other items, but we've been eating the same things since the 60's and are stuck in a rut.) we've actually driven to rosarito beach to have a taco at yaqui's. (yaqui's has now opened a new location in tijuana, but we have not been yet.) the fish and shrimp tacos at "best taco's in ensenada" on hillhurst are outstanding. when pepe's (in la canada) was open we would go there. they do have another location (in san gabriel, i believe) and their new location in montrose looks as if it should reopen pretty soon. we have been to la cabanita (montrose) but did not care for it. we hear that babita's in san gabriel is very good but have not tried it. have also been to joselito's and el charro in montrose and los gringos locos in la canada, they're ok. the other place that we have enjoyed, but only been to once because of logistics, is la abeja on figueroa in highland park. very good overall, especially the chile rellenos.

                              the greatest disappointment to us has the been the demise of el cholo's. we started frequenting the first (and, at that time, only) location on western in the 60's. the food used to be wonderful - perfectly seasoned and very well presented. especially loved the chile relleno's and the enchiladas. unfortunately, as the restaurant became a chain, we think that they began cooking from recipes instead of "to taste". this is, in general, why we stay away from chains.

                              the reason that i did not post our comments on paseo cantina a month ago is because the place was quite new and i did not want to post just to be negative. it now appears that people are voting with their feet and wallets and the cantina is pretty much deserted during the day. i have never been there in the evening and would be curious as to how it does then - maybe if it does well at night with the music, it might make it. otherwise: another one bites the dust.

                              so i will try babita one of these days and keep reading chowhound in hopes that a great mexican place will appear in the pasadena/glendale areas.

                              1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                Thanks for the review. I went to the old Pepe's in La Canada once. I don't remember the experience though because it was years ago.

                                I must be less picky about Mexican food because I find that most of the places that I've been to in the Pasadena area are pretty good.

                                I think your theory about Paseo Cantina may be right though. I've only been there once, and it was not very busy. It did begin to fill up, but I would think that it needs more business to survive. Maybe it gets busier after 7PM when the entertainment begins.

                                If voting with feet and wallets is a sign of success, then El Torito and El Cholo are the places to go. I haven't seen one El Torito go out of business, yet.

                                Thanks again for your post. :) I appreciate it.

                                Here are some recent threads that might help decide where to eat next time:

                                Mexican food in Pasadena
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/483657

                                Mexican food in LA
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/485679

                                1. re: katkoupai

                                  i guess that i need to revisit the "feet & wallet" theory. it seems to apply to new places. once something is established (for whatever reason) other influences come into play. some of it has to do with people generally sticking with the familiar because of personal comfort levels. i doubt that many people truly believe that mcdonalds has the best hamburgers, but they manage to outsell everyone in the world!

                                  and thanx for the links. trying to stick to a diet right now, but will definitely check some of them out.

                                2. re: justanotherpenguin

                                  Pepe's in La Canada is related to Margarita's in Pasadena. In fact, I noticed a sign on the wall by the phone at Margarita's that said (in Spanish) that Pepe's would be opening around the 1st of March. I guess they have people calling to find out. Margarita's is located in Pasadena, not San Gabriel. It's on Rosemead Blvd., between Colorado & Del Mar.

                                  -----
                                  Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
                                  155 S Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                  1. re: Jack Flash

                                    Oooohh, I would be so excited if Pepe's were to really open again! I loved their food so much. Alas, I'm not that hopeful. They've been saying that they're going to be opening for a year now. They were supposed to open LAST February. Anyone driven by their site in Montrose recently to see what's going on? I drove by there 2 months ago and there was nothing--no one working, no one there, just a very plain sign that said, "Pepe's" and yellow paper covering the doors...

                                    1. re: sibaik

                                      actually, i drive by on a regular basis and have seen people working as recently as last week. out of curiosity i just called the old phone number - it answered "margarita's" and the man told me that they expect to open the first week of march. we'll see.

                                      1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                        I love Pepe's. I am glad that Margarita's is there for my fish taco fix.

                                  2. re: justanotherpenguin

                                    I had one bad experience (and we did not even get to the food) - but seeing the overwhelming mojo for this place, I did not want to post a negative experience. Also, I need to try the food first.

                                    Our experience was on a Saturday evening. We had gone to see a movie at the Paseo, and looked for this place for dinner before the movie. It was crowded, but unlike other popular restaurants, there was no proper waiting list. The music was so loud that we could barely hear what we were told - something to the effect of a 10-15 minutes wait. That was fine. There were other people accumulating, and some were being taken to their places right away, which was a bit of concern - but perhaps they had prior reservations. It was NOT transparent. The original waitperson who told us that it would be 5-10 minutes, and then disappeared. After 5 minutes, we found another waitperson approaching the front desk, and asked to see the wait list. They did not have any! They would have to wing it as to who got seated first. We left for some other alternative.

                                    It was one of the most unpleasant first experiences (comparable to Mezbaan - in 1992 - and as an Indian, I have never visited Mezbaan since, and guide all my friends away from it, and also Yangchow - about 10 years ago). I am willing to try it at a time when it is NOT as crowded, but have low expectations of the service.

                                    I saw a post, which I can't find now, about someone who works there and is taking notes of things good and bad. That prompted me to post.

                              2. I think that each of the many Mexican restaurants in Pasadena do some things well. Each place does not do everything well - other places do some of them better. It is a fine thing when you find the items that each place does well. I think that I have done that at Paseo Cantina, even if it is just a soup, fresh made tortillas and dessert. These items make me happy at this place. Other places, I would stay away from the soups and desserts. And, of course, everyone always has their own tastes. The perfect tortilla soup for me may taste like dishwater to another. That does not mean that anyone is right or wrong, just the way it is.
                                As for atmosphere, I really do not tend to notice it as I am so busy chatting with my companions (and usually people at the tables next to us) that it does not really register with me (not only here, but other places as well). If the food is good, then I am a happy girl.
                                Now, bad service, there is no excuse for that. It is a huge turnoff. I have not returned to restaurants that I have otherwise liked due to bad service.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: WildSwede

                                  I have eaten at many places with little to no decor, but this place just seemed like a real downer, mostly because the restaurant is so big and it has so much potential. Maybe with a little tidying up... and making it look more organized and "together." I hope this place works out I really do... I wouldn't mind trying their tortilla soup, especially on a cool evening.

                                2. Hey WildSwede,

                                  I have been following this thread since your initial review last December, and b/c review had been mixed I hadn't been until this last weekend. I'm sorry to say, but my experience was terrible. We went with a large group (13 of us) for a last-minute surprise 30th bday for my brother. The plan was to go play broom ball at the ice rink across the street after, so we wanted someplace at the Paseo b/c of it's proximity to the ice rink and easy parking. The Yard House was completely rude when we even asked about the possibility of such a large party, and we chose Paseo Cantina largely because they were nice to us and could accommodate us.

                                  Our server was very nice and accommodating, but I ordered several appetizers for the table and we never received any kind of plating for any of it. So sour cream and guacamole were dropped all along the table as people tried to pass it around, with nothing to put their food on. The guacamole was made tableside and looked beautiful, but was near tasteless, even though we had asked for it "medium". It had no spice, no flavor, nothing. Just mushy avocado. Then, as we had just started in on the guacamole, all our food arrived. More table shuffling of chips and salsa and guacamole and still half full taquito plates. The food proved to be as tasteless as the guacamole. My steak fajitas were cooked well enough and the vegetables were good, but the steak was super thinly cut and over cooked. The steak was also skimpy, but I had plenty of onions and bell pepper to hide that. It came with refried beans and rice - both also bland, in flavor and appearance. My husband had the combo plate with an enchillada and a chile relleno. The enchillada was again - BLAND - and strangely enough, the chile relleno was scorchingly spicy. It was, apparently, the only thing on the table anything close to spicy. Before my brother's girlfriend had even finished her meal and before most of our plates had been cleared, the waitress all of a sudden showed up with two members of the mariachi band and a desert of flan with a lit candle for my brother. They sang the LONGEST SONG EVER in Spanish, then launched into the happy birthday song. The flan was sad looking. I swear, it was the smallest flan I have ever seen. It was maybe.... the size of my palm (and I'm only 5'3"). Four bites, max.

                                  I wish I could say we all drank margaritas and got pleasantly toasty and didn't mind the poor food and the EXTREMELY LOUD mariachi band being piped in. I would be able to say that if any of the drinks tasted like they had alcohol in them. My brother ordered a Bushmills and coke at the bar, and less than a fingers worth of whiskey was poured in the glass. Our bill was close to $500 and we weren't even buzzed.

                                  Forget about Paseo Cantina. There's better Mexican at the roach coach on the corner.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kchangambrose

                                    Yeah, sorry about your bad experience. I have only been there once for happy hour and a couple of times for lunch (and not recently, either) since that first review - never for dinner, so I cannot comment on the mariachis. Seems that after those first couple of visits where it was good (and Steffen was still working there), it started going downhill. It is not even on my radar any more. There are definitely better Mexican places in town.

                                  2. I went recently and was not so impressed as your initial review. It was pretty late on a Saturday (after a Paseo outdoor event) and they never wiped down our table the entire time we were there and after asking several staffmembers.
                                    And I thought the coconut flan was pretty bad, not at all what I look for in a flan. It didn't taste creamy or eggy, it was really pale instead of yellow (ok, perhaps that was coconut milk) and the consistency was harder as if they substituted gelatin or something in place of many of the eggs.
                                    It wouldn't be a good place to go just for drinks and apps either unless it's a large group, because the appetizers are all over $11 and they're huge.