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“Great food, but not totally authentic”
Review of Mateo Bar De Tapas

Mateo Bar De Tapas
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Ranked #5 of 771 Restaurants in Durham
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $30 - $30
Cuisines: Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
247 reviews
148 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Great food, but not totally authentic”
Reviewed October 7, 2012

Hurray for Spanish food in Durham! This restaurant is way too small for the crowds it is commanding, but the crowds are there because the food is great. The prices are also very reasonable. My only disappointments were the noise level and the lack of 100% authenticity. For example, we expected olives and picos when we sat down at the table. But to Mateo's credit, it's putting a nice spin on traditional dishes.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank modernlizbennet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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410 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    234
    118
    45
    13
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
187 reviews
123 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Great addition to the local restaurant scene”
Reviewed October 7, 2012

There is nothing locally that can compare to Mateo for drinks and tapas. We sampled a bit of everything, from the fried okra to salads to ham and chicken croquetas. Everything was amazing. The atmosphere was charming, the crowd lively and John our waiter was most attentive, a real professional. We will certainly be back.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mary L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Just average - not for a date night”
Reviewed October 5, 2012

I really must not have had a similar experience as the other reviewers. We had a gift certificate given to us by a friend so we decided to try it on a Friday night as our date night locale without the kids. I was advised to make a reservation and I am glad I did. The hostess told the couple in front of us that it would be a 3 hour wait for a table (so not worth it)!

To say that this place was really, really, really noisy would be an understatement. It was quieter on the street next to traffic than inside the restaurant! I am not kidding when I say that my husband and I resorted to iMessaging each other what we wanted to order and we were at a small bistro table for two. I think a large part of the problem is that it is a small space with a very large bar. On a Friday night, the bar was 3 people deep so it contributed to the noise and the bar is not segregated from the dining area. It was also a very young, hipster crowd. We're 40 so maybe this just wasn't our scene.

We waited 24 minutes for someone to take our drink order and another 14 minutes to take our food order. The lighting is so low and the font on the menus so small (maybe 8 pt font) that we had to get our iPhones out and shine them on the menus to see. The specials were written in cursive in colored chalk on a chalkboard by the front door that was impossible to read from the table. The waiter was not very informed about the menu or maybe he was just too exhausted to explain because the waitstaff was clearly slammed. The other diners around us were also complaining about the noise, the wait and the lighting. I know because it was impossible to not overhear their conversations as close as the tables were and as loud as everyone had to shout to be heard by their date! Several people complained about the lighting (or lack thereof) and got the response "yeah, we get that a lot".

The food was very mediocre and way overpriced. For 4 plates and 4 glasses of wine, we spent $100. I don't mind paying for good food but this was a total disappointment. There are so many other great places to try in Durham, I advise skipping this for now. It has only been open about 2 months and I think their instant popularity outpaced their ability.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Kelly P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham NC (USA)
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
28 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Superb and authentic tapas in a great setting”
Reviewed September 27, 2012

My husband and I (we live in Durham) have been to Mateo several times since it opened late this summer. The food is top-notch, as good as anything we've eaten in Barcelona, and the wine list exciting, all-Spanish, with a great range of tastes and prices, including some hard-to-find sherries. I love the seafood and the vegetables; my husband has enjoyed heartier dishes (meatballs, an oxtail donut, even pig's tail). The prices are reasonable, given the very high quality, and the only think that needs a little work is the service -- drinks can take a long time to arrive, and there is occasional confusion about the orders, which I suppose is rather standard for a tapas place. But the service is friendly and getting better on each visit.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Ingleseitalianato
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, North Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Matt Kelly is amazing”
Reviewed September 19, 2012

Much like Vin Rouge, Mateo hits on all cylinders with its unique and delicious tapas menu. The space is old and classic with a clean remodeling that makes it feel upscale and unpretentious at the same time. The food: amazing. Have been twice and everything was delicious. Service, perfect. Just go.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Thomas L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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