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“The new Luna Maya is a heartbreaking disappointment.” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Luna Maya

Luna Maya
Colley Ave. at 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517-1912
(757) 622-6986
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Ranked #47 of 613 Restaurants in Norfolk
Price range: $15 - $20
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night
Washington DC, District of Columbia
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“The new Luna Maya is a heartbreaking disappointment.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2011

The new Luna Maya is a heartbreaking disappointment.

Luna Maya used to be one of the most unique, authentic, and delicious dining establishments in Hampton Roads. It was known for both its cuisine and its cozy atmosphere. After visiting their new location, however, I'm sad to report that barely any of the original charm remains. Hints of the once-famed cuisine might still be found if you look hard enough, but the food is overshadowed by the obnoxious atmosphere and amateur staff.

Luna Maya has always been popular. Every time I've visited, I've always expected to wait for a table. When I heard they were expanding, I felt excited for the owners and proud of their accomplishments in developing such a successful small business. But expanding a successful business is just as difficult as starting a brand new business, and it unfortunately feels like they've driven off the path with their latest moves.

When we first entered, we were immediately taken aback by the volume. The restaurant sounded like a sports bar during the Super Bowl. I'm not embellishing when I say that I could not understand what my associate was saying when she was standing next to me, shouting into my ear. The place sounds like everybody has something important to say and is yelling it at the top of their lungs simultaneously. My ears were ringing after we left, like we had just attended a rock concert.

The hostess/manager, Celia, informed us that the wait would be 30-40 minutes. My associate had been anticipating Luna Maya all day and was okay with the wait. After 60 minutes, and after noticing a few guests who came in after us being seated, we double-checked with the hostess to see if our name was still on the list. She assured us it was. After an hour and a half, and after seeing four more later-arriving parties seated before us, we approached the hostess desk again. At first, Celia refused to acknowledge us -- she looked up, saw us, then proceeded to continue on, writing notes, walking over to the bar, rearranging menus -- it felt like she was stalling. After a few minutes of our waiting there, Celia finally looked up at us, sighed, and rolled her eyes. She assured us that we were "next," despite immediately seating a 2-top and 3-top who had arrived just 10 minutes prior. Finally, just after the 2-hour mark, Celia ordered another staff member to seat us, without any kind of apology or concession. The 30-40 minute wait took a full 120 minutes. I read 3/4ths of a book on my iPad in the time it took to wait for a table at this restaurant.

At the previous, smaller Luna Maya, tables were positioned very close together. It was uncomfortable, but necessary. When they moved into the large, new location, however, I expected a more comfortable dining experience. Unfortunately, the seating is still as awkward as it used to be. Guests are placed at tables that are practically on top of one another. I was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the guy at the table next to us. We were so close together, I could have eaten off his plate without stretching. It's not a private dining experience -- but I guess that doesn't matter because the patrons and music are so loud that you can't hear anything anyway.

The food was pretty close to what I remember from the previous location, but any love that went into it was undermined by the ambiance. And that's a key issue -- when you visited the old Luna Maya restaurant, you felt like you were supporting a local business and helping local families continue to create incredible food out of love and passion. When you visit the new Luna Maya, you get the impression that the owners sold their stakes to the highest bidder who convinced them they could double their money by doubling the kitchen, doubling the amount of alcohol, and doubling the volume. The whole time I was there, I felt like someone was taking advantage of me and laughing their way to the bank.

The old Luna Maya used to be an intimate, refined, rewarding dining experience. But the new Luna Maya isn't even a restaurant anymore -- it's a garish, Colley Ave bar with a couple of tables to the side, where the owners can prey on the broken hearts of those of us who remember what Luna Maya used to stand for.

  • Visited June 2011
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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107 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Norfolk, Virginia
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Great food, but not quite as good as the original place”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2011

If you are looking for a unique twist on Mexican fare, you've found a great spot. However, since the restaurant expanded (greatly!!), I've found the food isn't quite as good as it was at the original restaurant. The atmosphere is not as intimate. Much more of a family restaurant vibe versus a cool spot to hang out with friends.

  • Visited July 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 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.
North Palm Beach, Florida
Top Contributor
121 reviews 121 reviews
72 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Brittany saved the day!!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011

Our family is on a road trip and it was our daughters night to pick the meal- mexican- and we are in Norfolk, VA. So we went on line, saw Luna was ranked #1 and called. The girl who answered the phone said we could not make reservations for our party of 5 (less than 6) or call ins, because "too many problems with that!". We used our GPS to arrive at an empty building and had to call back to learn they had moved .5 mile away. When we finally found the building with LIMITED parking, we walked in to a HOT box. We were later told by our wonderful bar tender that the AC had broken just that day. The girls at the hostess station said, "no more outside seating, due to the earlier rain spell" and we were asked to wait 20 minutes in the "lounge" which was a small bench in front of the door. It was soooo hot that we decided to get take out and sat at the bar to wait for our meal. We ordered drinks, the Sierra Mist was out of order and Brittany the bar tender made my daughter a non-alcoholic mohito. Nachos were not on the menu, but they attempted with queso. They forgot to pack our Tres Leche and all in all our experience was NOT a good one. Brittany, the bar tender was fabulous! She apologized and tried to make it right. I was so hoping that when I got back to our hotel the food would be well worth the wait, but instead it was just ok. I had the tamale luna maya which tasted like they used a can of sweet corn, which they poured into a tamale husk and topped with seasoned beef. The rest of the family seemed unimpressed with their meals and we are looking forward to our meal at Seafood City in Dover, DE tomorrow, putting this epic fail behind us!!

  • Visited July 2011
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Nice atmosphere...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2011 via mobile

We were excited about this place, as it received high marks from trip advisor. I do have to let you know that I come from a very extensive restaurant background so I do expect more than most.

I first asked the waitress to tell me about menu, the restaurant and some of her favorites. What I was looking for was the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and a description of what she liked and maybe some flavor profiles of those dishes. What I got was a few dishes read from the menu that I was reading. I ordered soda water with lime and received sprite. No big deal. We also had queso con chorizo. She explained it was chicken chorizo which I was fine with. When it arrived it was bland and taste like queso with flavorless ground up chicken. We were still optimistic about second course.

Main course arrives. We have no silverware and no drinks left in our glasses. My opinion of this place was dimishing by the minute. My entree was decent, a corn and chicken casserole with melted cheese. Sweet and savory for sure, which I don't mind and even enjoy if it's good. Definitely the highlight of the meal. My fiance ordered vegan quesadilla. I'm not sure why she ordered this because it wa bland and why wouldn't it be? I could have gotteover that too if the waitress would have returned in time to and made the observation that she didn't but a few bites (which should have been get her cue to offer to get my fiance something she may actually enjoy).

Alas, she returns when we were done. As I said, I come from a serious culinary and restaurant background and come to expect more from my employees. Most people don't notice the things that I do, but what she did next was a really big no no. She asked us if we wanted to see the dessert menu then quickly says "oh, never mind. If it's after 10pm they wont even make it." really? You don't offer your guests a full dining experience? On top of that they were putting up chairs which means "hey time for you to leave". We were two of maybe twenty other people. I could go on... This place failed. Why can't restaurants get it right?

    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
254 reviews 254 reviews
163 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 66 cities Reviews in 66 cities
131 helpful votes 131 helpful votes
“Do not compare Luna Maya to those Tex-Mex restaurants.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2011

This is a lovely restaurant owned by 2 very nice, hard working Bolivian sisters. Since they moved into their new location on Colley Avenue and 21st St.(disregard the address Trip Advisor is still using) they are offering outdoor dining and a large dining room that includes a very busy bar. They are serving some fine Bolivian and Latin American dishes. Our first trip to the new location was on an extraordinarily busy night. We joined a crowd that was told it would be an hour. We and most everyone else waited because the atmosphere was contagious that night. Waitresses took drink and appetizer orders from the standing room only crowd. Exactly an hour later we were seated. We were shocked that our orders arrived so quickly considering the crowd. We loved the food we chose, but we were smart enough to ask the waitress for help in selecting.

  • Visited May 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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