Berkeley >Event Planning > Cafe De La Paz
1600 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA | Directions 9470937.878049 -122.269328
Neighborhoods: North Berkeley
An absolutely horrendous experience – I scheduled a business dinner here with 20 out of town guests. The owner required a deposit of $250. and immediately cashed my check the same day. (this is a clue.) The dinner occurred a week later and the food and service were disjointed and not up to the quality I'd experienced there before. There was a large musical event/opening at the same establishment, which they failed to disclose when I made the reservation. When the dinner was complete, each person paid their tab to the head wait person. I threw in an added gratuity, despite the amount automatically added to the checks. When I asked for my deposit return, the waiter said they didn't know anything about it, and they couldn't find the owner. Five trips back and many more phone calls later, over the next few days, and he wrote me a check for the $250. Well, the check bounced. Now I'm chasing this guy Russell again. I brought this establishment close to a $1,000. of business and they've treated me terribly. I've had to call and remind the owner to go to the bank, etc. He acts like a total doper. Please take your business elsewhere.
Bright lights and mojitos in North Berkeley. – In Short
Dishing up Latin and Spanish flavors, Cafe de la Paz lights up Shattuck Avenue with its colorful plates and consistently lively night scene. Lately, the food is said to be alternating between good and mediocre, but their Venezuelan pancakes keep customers coming back, and the spunky sangria and mojitos convert dozens every weekend.
Service oriented folks – Owner was great at fixing a miscommunication we had. Very straightforward, amicable and respectful.
They try hard and will probably succeed regardless of glitches described further.
Disappointing – I was entirely underwhelmed by the food and service at Cafe de La Paz. Went in for lunch, excited to get some traditional South American cuisine. But, the dishes were far from authentic. Rather than incuding dishes that were traditional to particular countries, the cafe features a mish-mashed variety of hybrid dishes that are vaguely South American. One might say this is pan-South-American cuisine. This need not necessarily be a bad thing. However, the combinations of ingredients seemed uninspired and overall the meal fell flat. Nothing was terrible, but nothing stood out either. Also, despite a relatively empty restaurant, the service was painfully slow.
Abhorent Service – No stars! I have eaten here a few times before and put up with the slow service because of the good Latin fusion food...but no longer!
Last night, a few of my friends (4 people including myself) and I went to Cafe de la Paz for my birthday. At first, it took about 10 minutes for anyone working to even acknowledge that we were waiting for a table. Then after being seated we waited 10 more minutes for menus. By the time we were ready to order, we hadn't even been offered water.
While this was already a damper on the evening, we enjoyed our meals and sangria. However, the most exciting part of the evening was when we recieved our bill.
After the bill was placed on the table, our almost non-existant waiter returned 15 mins later to collect our cards (this being his 3rd trip to our table over the course of over an hour)-- he yelled at us for wanting to split the check--- loud enough to catch the attention of the other customers. He claimed that we should have "prepared in advance," and "it wasn't appropriate," but to be quite honest I didn't catch everything he said because I was shocked I was being so fiercely scolded.
After this demonstration, my friend let him know that he would not be recieving a tip after his less-than-gracious lecture, and the waiter became extremely confrontational.
The waiter proceeded to stomp loudly down the stairs and called the manager to deal with us. He came back up the stairs, told my friend he was a "punk" and we didn't see him for the rest of the evening.
The manager was apologetic and handled the situation well-- but explained that our waiter was usually quite good and normally "friendly". The manager took off our alcoholic beverages for the evening (about $30 off the $100+ bill).
As a table of mature adults, I was appalled that I was being treated in such a way anywhere, let alone at a restaurant! Needless to say, I will not be returning and can't say the food was worth the treatment.
I wouldn't go again – Went here last night with a group of 9 for a birthday party. We had a reservation, but waited to sit because the room is L-shaped and the waitresses didn't look around the bend of the L (there was no one sitting in that section of the restaurant, and it wasn't crowded). Eventually we were seated, but had to point out a couple waiting. They got seated but apparently didn't get served because they left 10 minutes later.
The food we had was good - the corn pancakes, the potato pancake (a little vinegary for my taste), and platanos for appetizers, and the salmon, the xim xim, the vegetarian dishes, the fish of the day, and the "Argentinean" BBQ were all reported as tasty; I liked the chimichurri sauce on the BBQ and the mango salsa that came with the fish. I liked the sangria but I think a lot of people might think it was too light - certainly it wasn't worth $34/pitcher. However the main problem was that the service was ATROCIOUS. Besides having to tell the waitress to seat another party, she seemed to have the order of ordering backwards, asking for our entrees before getting the order for appetizers. She brought the sangria almost ten minutes before she brought any glasses. More than ten minutes after she cleared the table, I waved her over to bring us dessert menus, and she brought the birthday surprise dessert - even though half our party was away from the table at the time! And then she didn't bring any utensils (which didn't matter because we sent it back for a do-over).
My friends, who had had the chocolate mousse before, said the consistency wasn't the same as usual but it did taste like chocolate fudge. The flan was pretty straightforward, nothing to write home about, and they were out of the crisp.
Of course as there were more than five of us we had to pay the gratuity. I wouldn't have left our waitress 10%.
Watered Down Sangria and Disappointing Desserts – We ordered sangria, empanadas, platanos fritos and a chocolate-kahlua mousse dessert. Unfortunately, all but the empanadas were extremely disappointing. The sangria was nearly filled to the brim with big chunks of ice (even though it already tasted like watered down grape juice). And, did I mention there was no fruit in the glass? How can they call this sangria? If I were the owner, I would be embarassed to serve this as "sangria". This is by far the worst excuse for sangria I've ever seen.
The platanos fritos (already fried, hence the name "fried bananas") sat in a bath of butter. As if the friedness and butter bath weren't enough, there was a heaping pile of curdling whip cream on top. My guess is that they were trying to cover-up the cardboard-like taste of the bananas. I have had platanos fritos in other restaurants and in Central America; Cafe de la Paz's platanos fritos do a disservice to this dish.
The chocolate kahlua was so unappetizing in it's presentation that we were fighting laughter when the waitress brought it to our table. I'm not kidding when I say it looked like moose scat. Again, with a heaping pile of whip cream on top. Let's just say it didn't taste much better than it looked.
Overall we were disappointed with the food offered here (however, please note we did not have dinner!). It's been a few years since we visited this restaurant but we were sad to see the quality of food and drink drop to the level that it is now at. There are plenty of other good restaurants nearby -- I recommend trying one of them instead.
Disappointing experience – Last Friday on October 27, 2006 we went to LaPaz for dinner which included flamenco dancing entertainment with a couple of friends. We were allowed to enter the dining room where the flamenco dancing was to take place at 9 oclock PM and we were told that the entertainment would start at 10 PM. The whole dinner experience was a fiasco. We had to wait 45 minutes before we even got to drink a glass of wine since the waiter struggled to open the bottle of wine for over 30 minutes. The dinner did not show up until about 10:30 PM. The first course, spicy shrimps, was too spicy, and the main course which was a chicken and duck dish, was prepared in a similar manner that you would find in a typical buffet dinner. The duck and chicken in the dish were over-cooked and a bit tough and dry.
The flamenco dance performance was great. However the total price for dinner and entertainment of $95/person seemed way over priced. And that was just the beginning. We had ordered a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine, which cost us $86. And on top of that we were charged 18% service for the below standard service that we experienced!!! The total cost for 7 people was close to $1000.
Our conclusion is that, yes, the dancing performance was very good, but the music was too loud and the food was mediocre to say the least. The whole experience seemed to us to appear like a big rip-off!!
Tantalized my taste buds! – I met a friend there for an early dinner last week. I was pleasantly surprised by the sunny, naturally lit dining room on the second floor. The room was small but my friend and I were still able to carry on our conversation without feeling like we were on a bullhorn. We had an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The Llapingacho (appetizer) was fabulous. I had the Enchiladas Verduras which were surprisingly made with almonds in addition to wonderdul veggies and cheese. Now, I'm a meat eater, but love to eat and try different vegetarian dishes. This was very tasty. My friend had the Enchiladas de Pollo which were chock full of chicken. They definitely didn't skimp on the meat. For dessert, we both had the chocolate mousse thing (sorry, can't remember the exact name) which was topped off with creme and almonds. Somehow the creme made the dish seem light and lowfat :))) We also had two mojitos a piece and those were fabulous. Not the best that I've ever tasted, but good none-the-less. From reading the other reviews, I don't think I'll ever go there after 7:00 or on V-Day or for a graduation. Seems like once that place gets too crowded, the charm goes away. Luckily I work close and look forward to going back for early dinners.....heck, I might even stop by after 7:00 just to sip a mojito in the bar downstairs. As far as the service goes, the wait staff were nice and professional looking. Our particular waitress was eager to explain the menu selections and seemed to take pride in what she was serving. Give it a try!!
Unforunately, a really terrible experience – We made a reservation for a large group, hoping to have a wonderful brunch after graduation. We ended up having to choose from their mother's day special menu starting at $20/person. Okay, that was fine...but we waited over an hour before they brought out an appetizer (but not even enough for 9 people)! One of the appetizers were mainly burnt too! The server was very diplomatic and kind and apologetic about the situation, but it did not make up for the fact that it was the most poor service I've had ever for a nice restaurant. Our party ended up leaving as a result of the terrible experience. The manager agreed to take care of the bill -- of which, we only got the two appetizers. It was quite unfortunate.
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