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Nov 22, 2008 04:52 AM

La Cava - why, oh why, is this restaurant always empty?

My husband and I had dinner at La Cava last night, and it was delicous as always. But it was completely empty on a Friday night. We were only about one of three tables. I have had consistently great dinners there and I am stumped as to why it is empty.

Is it the food? I have never had a bad meal there. They have wonderful seafood dishes, fresh guacamole (a weakness of mine), everything is light tasty and flavorful.

Is it the location? It is right off of Butler Ave, near the movie theater, Act II playhouse, lots of shopping and bars. Every other restaurant on Butler is consistently mobbed.

Is it service? I know a few people think the owner is a bit rough, but he really is not thast bad and certainly not enough to keep people away.

Is it price? Of course, some of the specials can be a bit pricey, but much of the menu is under $20. We had a delicous dinner last night for $50 - split a chile relleno with a tasty spicy sauce, I had chicken enchiladas with a great mole sauce with the perfect conbination of chocolate and spice, my husband had conchinita pibill, with perfectly seasoned pork with just a hint of citrus, then we ended the meal with coffee. Add in a bottle of wine (BYO) then you have a great meal that is really reasonaable.

Is it atmosphere? It is really cute, they just repainted and redecorated a bit, no problems there.

We were initially going to Tamarindos and the line was out the door, that place is less than 5 minutes from La Cava. While I do like Tamarindos, I think the food at la Cava is better. The only reason why we were initially going to Tamarindos is that we had just gone to La Cava and had not been to Tamarindos in ages.

It is just shocking to me. We often bring friends and colleagues and everyone just raves about the restaurant. Whenever I am there I feel like I am in that episode of Seinfeld.

It is just so friustrating that we have these local little great places, and they are empty, while nearby chains have waits that are hours long.

So, while I jump on my soapbox, we need to support our local restaurants!

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  1. We'll have to try La Cava again. It's been quite some time since we've been there (only tried it once). We ordered a skate wing special that was off (undercooked, bad smell, etc.) which completely turned us off to the place. Unless things have changed, the menu (reading it from the window) does not appear to be that exciting. However, you have consistenly posted positive reviews and it is BYOB, so we're going to try it again and will report back when we do.

    1. Hi AmblerGirl

      I pass it almost everyday and try and see inside what's going on. I think an empty restaurant is somewhat forbidding to look at, hence, not a good draw. Since I live nearby, I'll make a point of having lunch or dinner there to support our Ambler neighborhood.

      1 Reply
      1. re: IamStarving

        We went early on, when it first opened, and did not think the food justified the price. Many (not all) people associate "Mexican" with a lower price range. I'll give it a try again some time, but I'm not rushing to do so.

      2. Here's their menu. There's some nice vegetarian items on it.

        1. Chips and salsa, then tilapia with Veracruz sauce, will set me back $29.50?
          No, gracias.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            It does seem overly expensive especially when you can get authentic Mexican nearby for far less, i.e. Rey Azteca in Warminster.

            1. re: IamStarving

              Whoa. Rey Azteca is OK, but you are comparing poblanos and tomatillos.

              1. re: PattiCakes

                noper! Just value for your money. I now see no value in La Cava, none at all.

          2. A while back we had girl's night out at La Cava. While the food was okay, it was pricey for what we had. The owner is a bit too obnoxious for my taste. The servers were not especially pleasant and it was tough to get our water glasses refilled. They did not have enough wine coolers. There were 8 of us and we all drink white.

            When we planned another get together, everyone one passed on going back to La Cava. We went to Los Sarapes even though it was not BYO.

            We really want to support our local restaurants! Sometimes it is doesn't work out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: crazyspice

              Well it seems that your question has been answered in many ways, all of which I would agree with:
              1) Food is average at best
              2) Food is way overpriced, especially for Mexican
              3) And primarily, as crazyspice hits it on the head, the owner is obnoxious

              Restaurants, local or not, should be supported if they are worthy of support, seems this one is not. BTW, from what I understand, the owner of LaCava also owns Tamarindo's. To be honest, I have never been wowed by any Mexican restaurant except Lolita, and that's not even authentically Mexican.

              1. re: Schpsychman

                methinks soon to be emptier still .. yikes..