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“Small but big on the list of my favorite places to go!! Great food and drinks”
Review of El Matador

El Matador
Ranked #54 of 523 Restaurants in Costa Mesa
Cuisines: Mexican
Restaurant details
Reviewed February 1, 2012

the food is great and the drinks are great.....don't worry about wishing you had gone someplace else this place is the "hole in the wall" you won't regret visiting.......you will return!

Thank HappyToBeHere2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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44 - 48 of 58 reviews

Reviewed December 9, 2011

This little spot was really packed when we arrived on a Wednesday night. The menu was huge and had a lot of things to choose from. I was feeling under the weather, so I asked for hot tea. They said they didn't have any tea, so I wound up with hot water and lemon. No biggie - I don't slight a taqueria for that. I ordered the Gallalina Taquitos with chicken. They came out as 2 pair with beans, rice, a scoop of guac and shredded lettuce. I wish it came with sour cream and it was my fault for not asking. The chicken was slightly overcooked & the cheese on the beans was a bit rubbery. The flavors were just ok. I think they needed more staff to handle the volume that was coming in the door. No one really checked on us until the end of the meal, but that was to be expected. All in all, I wouldn't drive over here to eat again. Also, the parking lot was not lit at all - so beware of that. (and it was behind the building.

Thank ericamcarr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 23, 2011

El Matador has been in the same location in Costa Mesa for over 40 years. We started going to the restaurant when it first opened, when it was family run with the proprietor Marcial greeting every customer as if they were lifelong friends. For years the restaurant provided good food, good service in a quaint, small, cozy environment.

Things change over the years, and while the food is still good, the service has slipped dramatically. The restaurant has expanded to twice its original size, and this may be part of its problem.

On a recent visit, it took over ten minutes to have a server realize we were there, and when he did, he explained our drink orders would be right there, which was actually amazing, since no one had taken our order. Once the drinks were actually ordered, it took over ten minutes to deliver, and the restaurant was less than half full, so it could not have been a large backup of drinks orders in front of ours (and since we were sitting directly in front of the bar, it was easy to see that there were long periods of time when no drinks were being mixed).

Food service was slow, though the bus boys did bring chips and salsa quickly and frequently to the table. After the food order was placed, our server disappeared from the room and was out of sight until the food was presented (again about ten minutes).

The food itself is typical northern Mexican fare. Having had almost every item on the menu, I feel comfortable saying all items are what you would expect in a small Mexican restaurant. Good, filling and reasonably priced.

So, overall, good food, not so good service. I can recommend El Matador if you want to have a typical meal and can put up with the current flaws in delivery. As an aside, the "skinny" margaritas are good and equal much more expensiive ones at higher priced restaurants.

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Thank navigator53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 2, 2011

This is a hidden gem located right on Newport Bl. that is within minutes of Newport Beach, Fashion Island, John Wayne/Orange County Airport and Hoag Hospital. I have eaten at the El Matador for over 25 years. It is outstanding; the menu is extensive and the bar is stocked with hundreds of tequilas to choose from. The margaritas are over the top!! I have never had a bad meal at the E M nor have I ever had a better Mexican meal anywhere in Orange County. The newer bar-dining area is especially great for larger parties. My favorite meals are the shredded beef burrito, beef nachos and spicey shrimp. The selection, quality of food and service and pricing makes this my #1 choice for Mexican food. I just wish it was closer to my home which is 20 miles south of the restaurant.

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Thank pismore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2011

The place is about 40 years old and appears to never have been upgraded. It is old, dingy and the food is a 1 on the 10 scale. Don't waste your time or money. Go elsewhere.

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1  Thank NBDKS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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