Dining: iX tapa Cantina is a boisterous, urban watering hole

>>EAT 

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Food writer Merrill Shindler recently tackled the phonetically-challenging iX tapa Cantina, a newcomer to the Colorado Boulevard dining scene.

He, first, found that the eatery’s name brought out his inner grammar curmudgeon:


Look: You’ll forgive me if I spell it “Ixtapa.” Apparently, the spelling chosen by the Jack and Karen Huang, the restaurateurs who opened this Urban Chic Cantina, is the somewhat keyboard-unfriendly “iX tapa,” which will drive me to madness. And it’s apparently caused those who note restaurant openings on the Web to sprain all ten fingers. Take a look, and you’ll find “Ix Tapa,” “ix tapa,” “IX Tapa,” “Ixtapa” — the variations go on and on.



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The menu, he says, takes few chances if any.


This is a kitchen that follows the straight and narrow. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that: I like a fish taco as well as the next fellow. …



Though I do wish some of those classics were done a tad better. The guacamole was freshly made, and not mashed up too much. But the shrimp in the shrimp cocktail were a bit dry, a bit tired. I liked the Mexican chopped salad of grilled chicken, roasted corn and beans. But the fish in the fish tacos was way overdone; it needed a dousing of salsa to lubricate its journey down. And the fajitas (chicken, steak, shrimp or vegetarian) were just kind of … messy. You know how they get when they’ve been cooked to the point where everything is kind of burnt?


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But it’s really all about the bar — and the booze — at iX tapa.


If I seem a bit grumpy — well, it’s nothing a house margarita can’t cure at this lively, thriving, somewhat madcap bar and restaurant and bar that sits in the space once occupied by the fabled Moose McGillicuddy’s. It’s a good margie, if a bit sweet, possibly the result of the orange liqueur and orange juice used in its fabrication. …



For dessert, along with flan and churros, there’s a banana split. But really: isn’t the cocktail of dark chocolate liqueur, tequila and Kahlua a dessert as well? And maybe even a sweeter one, that goes very well with loud music, and boisterous folks.


Shindler’s verdict: “However you spell it, Ixtapa is more a cantina than a restaurant. You go there for fun.”

iX tapa Cantina, 119 E. Colorado Blvd. cantinaixtapa.com, 626-304-1000. Open every day for lunch and dinner. About $20 per person; MC, V, D, AE. Full bar.


(Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz / Staff)

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