I decided to take a risk last night and try La Joya, the new upscale mexican restaurant on Van Ness that replaced Habana. I really wanted to like this place since it is walking distance and I really like the ambiance of the building.
I was had read that they still had Mojito's left from being a Cuban restaurant so I figured, that alone would be good enough to make this worth a try. We ordered a round of Mojito's and much to my dismay, these were not the same Habana Mojito's. They are no longer made with real sugar cane in it. When i tried it it was much too sugary and a bit bitter. Definately not worth $8. Mine even had some chunks of sugar in it about midway.
We ordered Guacamole and a Quesedilla as an appetizer, both were passable but not good for sharing with a group. the quesedilla was 2 small (think pot sticker size) deep fried corn shells stuffed and covered with black bean sauce ($8) and the guacamole ($8) was plentiful but hardly came with any chips was not spicy at all, and did not come with any salsa. Sensing we wanted some more appetized they brought us a couple plates of chips with black bean sauce and cheese.
For the main course I ordered the Chile Rellno stuffed with cheese & white shrimp. Ths was a pretty dissapointing dish. There was nothing in the chile besides cheese & shrimp. It looked like a deflated balloon when it was brought out. It was covered with a cheese sauce that could have been made from the Easy Mac Mix. The only side that came with it was plain mashed potatoes, leaving me wondering which part of the meal made it cost $18? Was it the easy-mac sauce, the potatoes or the 5 miniature shrimp in the chile. The one saving grace of the meal was that they did bring us a basket of hot homemade tortillas.
A couple other members of our group ordered the Chicken (Montana?), which was basically a tostade with shredded cheese & chicken for $15.
Needless to say $35 a person for poor food and Mojito's so sugary we could barely drink is not an experience I would care to repeat.
If you are looking to point someone in the right direction of an upscale Mexican restaurant in the Nob Hill/Russian Hill area, I would definately send them to the newly opened La Parilla Grill on Polk street. It's 3/4 the price and twice as good.
If you still want to try this place after this review, I would say to go soon, because I don't think La Joya will last very long.