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El Vez first impressions - long

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El Vez first impressions - long

edgrimley | Nov 9, 2003 09:23 AM

We visited El Vez on opening night. El Vez is Starr's new Mexican restaurant at 13th and Sansom (across from Capogiro). Food was good, but overpriced. And service was fantastic for opening night. We'll go back when things die down a bit.

Scene

- Amazing crowd. Must be nice to open a restaurant and be full on opening night.

- Combination of older, younger, scenesters, and see-be-seen folks.

- Minor facelift from the previous Trust decor. Structure is basically the same, with a circular bar in the center of the room. The new cosmetics add a tacky, fun quality to the space. Lots of faux gold - booths and a giant shiny bicycle atop the bar.

Food

- $12 guacamole was delicious.

- $8 Margaritas were made with fresh lime, and didn't skimp on the mediocre tequila. But we inadvertantly ordered the "blue" drink. There's an excellent tequila menu, albeit overpriced, and a tequila flight with accompanying sangrita. Didn't try it this time but look forward to next time around. Sangrita (little blood) is a spicy sweet accompaniment to tequila - usually made with grenadine or tomato juice, chiles and lime juice.

- Complimentary amuse bouche (no reason given) - lobster and mango salad on tortilla chips was a nice touch on opening night.

- Great tortillas and posole soups. Rich broths and a little spicy. Each were around $7.

- We had fish tacos - as good as you'll find in southern Cal, and enchiladas that were rich, flavorful but overly salty.

- Other items on the menu ranged up to and over $20 for some meat and fish platters. And there were standard Starr staples - large-sized salads and a Mexican "pizza."

Total bill was $76 with cocktails, several courses and tip. This is outrageous for Mexican food. But if we wanted just Mexican food we'd go to Washington Ave, probably. Or just hold out until our next California trip.

Service

For opening night, the service was surprisingly superb. We waiting a few minutes for a table and then they tried to sit us at a two, squeezed between the front door and the crush of people at the bar. We told them we'd wait for a table, and we were given a nice booth by the window just minutes later.

The waitress was very attentive and helpful in ordering. She did try to "suggest" salsa and an extra appetizer, which we found a little salesy. But her attention, attitude and the complimentary dish really helped make for a great time.

My big criticism will be for the standard Starr MO - dishes are "family style" and brought out when ready, rather than in a particular order. Food came out more than promptly and we felt a little rushed.

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