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“Hidden gem worth repeating on a regular basis!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Crystal Park Cantina

Crystal Park Cantina
178 Crystal Park Road, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
+1 719-685-5999
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Price range: $8 - $16
Cuisines: Mexican
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Description: Crystal Park Cantina is a unique, home-style Mexican restaurant in Manitou Springs serving delicious food made with the finest ingredients available.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Hidden gem worth repeating on a regular basis!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2013

Wow! Try mixing the mole and alfredo sauces. The portion sizes are appropriate, but it's so delicious you'll want more. I'm rarely surprised by dining experiences, but this lovely spot may be the best Mexican food I've ever tasted. Best kept secret in Southern Colorado.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Justin A, Owner at Crystal Park Cantina, responded to this review, July 24, 2014
"Best Mexican food you've ever tasted" is some amazingly high praise, Erin, and I'm so pleased you thought we've earned it! I know it's been a few months since you left this review, but I wanted to thank you for your great feedback, and to invite you back to visit us again soon.

All the best,
Justin A, Owner
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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130 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    74
    39
    4
    9
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Littleton, Colorado
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great food and great service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2013

You must try the sweet potato nachos - so different and delicious. Coconut mojito was great too. All of the staff was very friendly and helpful. It is very noisy, especially after a few of the tables had more than their fair share of margaritas. I would highly recommend.

  • Visited November 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Justin A, Owner at Crystal Park Cantina, responded to this review, July 24, 2014
Hey Joni, I realize it's been a while since you left this review, but I wanted to thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you're such a fan of ours, and I'm especially happy to hear you loved the sweet potato nachos so much -- they're definitely one of our specialties! I hope we'll be seeing you again soon. Thanks again for your business and for this great review!

All the best,
Justin A, Owner
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
earth
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Crystal Park Cantina: Don't go out of your way”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

It was a beautiful fall weekend so we went over to Manitou Springs to hang for the day and watch the Emma Crawford Coffin races -an annual event which draws thousands. The main st is closed to traffic as race teams push by hand a hand homemade built coffins with a usually a live person in the likeness of Emma Crawford down a 1/4 mile stretch competing for best time.
Emma Crawford was a young woman who moved to Manitou Springs to try and recover from the Consumption (TB). She did improve and was set to marry but fate played it's ugly hand and took her away just before her wedding day. An avid hiker her wish to be buried on top of Red mtn her favorite hiking spot was granted After two arduous days of her finance and friends carrying her casket up the mtn they finally made it to her final resting place, or so it seemed. A year later a railway was determined to cut across that mtn so her coffin was moved to another side of it. After years of eroding rains and melting snows, Emma's coffin was exposed and carried down the mountain in a torrential cloudburst. Two boys playing at the bottom of the slope found discovered bits and pieces of her coffin and bones having slid all the way down to the edge of town ! The townsfolk still saddened by her sudden death years ago and ow shocked at this turn of events reburied her in Crystal Valley Cemetery in town her gravesite over the years became 'lost'. An official grave site was granted to her in 2004 to honor her life.
Back to the review now
After the races we walked to the Crystal Park area east of town. Our destination was the Crystal Park Cantina. As we walked thru town I We stopped in at a couple of shops to get a ' local's review' of this restaurant boasting fine Mexican fare.
It was a toss up: some said it was alright, others didn't care for it and a few said it was good. Not getting a good consensus we forged ahead.
When we finally arrived we saw there was a decent amount of people inside but also tempered that with the fact that it was just after a major event in town and a nice weekend.
We went inside, nice enough decor a small bar area with dining tables right there and a elevated more quieter section and an outdoor dining patio. As the the sun was on its way down we opted to stay inside. We sat for a few minutes and the waitress came over with chips and salsa. Though we had to ask for water she brought none. Upon reviewing the menu seemed a bit pricey but by appearances it was a nice place and granted we are in a town that thrives on tourists. Though a tip off to me was the fact that the place only had been open since 2011.
We are strong advocates of long term and locally owned family Mexican style restaurants so we carry a more discerning view when ck'ing out a new place.

Right off the first waitress who also gave us chips and menus was now appearing to not be our waitress anymore. As we perused the offerings it was confusing as to their two tier pricing and how it designated the size of the servings. Also the color code for the topping sauces was not very clear.
Water glasses ran dry as did the chips/ salsa bowl. Which one reviewer here said was great. the chips were not oven warmed- more like cold out the bag and the salsa was full of hot sauce with no real flavor. The dining crowd had began to thin out so it was not busy at all. Our original 'waitress' seemed more concerned with hanging at the bar with other employees and texting on her cell phone.

At this point we were went into full test mode and waited and waited without even one " how are we doing ?" by any waitress till we finally asked one to refill water etc. Once water was refilled we were ready to order, this same waitress took the orders. After awhile the food came out and was quite unimpressive as far as the look of it. The enchiladas were very small the rice and beans portions equally small an order of Beef burrito appeared a good size. The kids meal was adequate portioned. As we dug in after a few bites we all had the same look on our faces even the youngsters : Bland.
No flavor, I had ordered the salmon quesodilla and while interesting was not what portioned well with very little ingredients inside the tortilla.. the rice was not your normal traditional style, more like rice made by a chef out of NYC trying to impress with his newly learned culinary skills. The Cantina does not present itself as 5 star or serving trendy modern style recipes. It does note that the ingredients are fresh and natural . Well that can mean anything.
We could tell that the cooks were apparently trying to make an impression with their plate presentations but that can only work if the food served is of quality taste. This however was not.
Upon finishing, our youngsters didn't finish theirs citing bad taste. When the waitress came over to clear our table she asked how everything was, odd that she would clear before even offering desert or the check. Well our Brasilian cooking and dining expert told her straight out that it had no taste and the portions were not worthy of the prices That even the kids thought it was bad. We asked for the check. Often when there is an issue with customers the manager or chef will come out to inquire as to what the problem is or if they can do anything to satisfy the customer. This at the Crystal pk Cantina was not the case.
We received the check and noted that one item was incorrectly rung up and that there was not even a comp for the kids meal which literally costs about $ 2 (in restaurant cost) to prepare,yet charged at $6.
We paid and left, disappointed and vowing to not return again.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Great Staff, Ambience and Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2013

The chips and salsa...excellent. Good flavors in the meal...cleaned the plate. Great salsa verde...bar tender Dave very attentive...staff seem happy to work there...our new favorite

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Justin A, Owner at Crystal Park Cantina, responded to this review, July 24, 2014
"New favorite" is something I always love to hear, Stephen! I know it's been a few months since you left this, but I wanted you to know that I'm glad you had such a terrific time, and I'd be glad to see you again anytime. I hope you've had a chance to visit us since you left this review, and if not, I hope we see you soon!

All the best,
Justin A, Owner
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
107 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Good Mexican food, but not great”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 29, 2013

My girlfriend and I visited on a busy Friday night. After a short wait, we were seated next to a large party that was occupying much of our server's attention. She did her best, but was relying heavily on the help of bussers, foodrunners, bartenders, and the floor manager to get the food and drinks to us. While waiting, we tried to enjoy a drink, but my beer was poured into a glass that was so cold, it formed a 1-inch block of ice on top of the beer. I like cold beer, but there's a limit, and when it's a snow-cone, that's too cold. By the time the ice melted, the beer was predictably flat.

We had wings to start which were delicious, but a rather small portion for the price. Both entrees were very good, but not cheap. The guacamole for which they are known was already tasting oxidized. I realize they probably made it fresh that morning, but sitting out on the line all day had taken it's toll. We may go back, but there are lots of other places to try before we make the trip back up the hill in Manitou.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Justin A, Owner at Crystal Park Cantina, responded to this review, July 24, 2014
I know it's been a while, but I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry to hear you didn't have the kind of experience you should've expected here. While I'm glad you loved almost all your food, I wish you had gotten to try the guacamole the way it was meant to be tried, and I hope you'll come back again soon so we can have another chance to show you what we're really capable of.

Also, I'm sorry about the ice beer. That should not have happened, I'll look into the temperature of our chilled glass fridge. Despite some your frustrations, I appreciate the understanding and four stars.

Hope we see you again soon!

All the best,
Justin A, Owner
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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