Sunday, July 24, 2011

Opinion Piece from a Southwester: Cantina Marina Disappoints...AGAIN

The following post was written by reader Audrina based on her experience at Cantina Marina on July 15.

Let me start by saying that I really want to love all the businesses and especially the restaurants and bars in SW. I REALLY want to! I live and work in SW. I like to tell people that “we’ve got good shit here too!” Sadly, though, the dining and bar options in SW DC are sorely lacking. But, because I want so desperately to support my neighborhood businesses (and a dear friend was having a birthday gathering), I found myself at Cantina Marina Friday night. I also found myself wondering why in the world I keep going back. I already knew the food and drinks were mediocre at best. Seriously… if you have “cantina” in your name, you ought to be able to make a decent margarita! What I didn’t know until Friday night was that the service was even worse than the food and drinks. To make a long story short, I (and others in the birthday party) felt one of the servers was actually trying to make our experience a bad one to hasten our departure and free up our table for another party.

Apparently, and unfortunately, the owners and management of Cantina Marina are aware of the fact that they don’t have to deliver good food, drinks, or service because they have one thing going for them that trumps everything else – location. If Cantina Marina was located anywhere other than in SW on the water, they would have long been gone. I can’t wait until the SW Waterfront redevelopment brings competition to force Cantina Marina to either shape up or ship out.

Note: Management did try to remedy the situation by offering the party seating upstairs, complimentary drinks and appetizers.


Jennifer said...

Completely agree that the food is pitiful (not to mention expensive for what it is) and they must've only survived because of the dearth of options and their location on the water. I am also hoping that the redevelopment convinces them to improve because i'd really love to be a regular there!!

Glenn said...

Why would you publish this? It seems way out of character for this blog.

Anonymous said...

So, what you're saying a resident of SW (and, therefore, someone who knows the neighborhood), you went on a Friday night in the middle of the summer to a small, waterside bar that doesn't take reservations with limited seating for a friend's birthday party, and then you were unhappy when you didn't have enough space. Additionally, the server, who had probably been working all day in 90 degree heat, was sort of subtlety mean to you.

You went on to publicly air this grievance, surely an injustice of the third degree, by writing the above. This despite the fact that "Management did try to remedy the situation by offering the party seating upstairs, complimentary drinks and appetizers."

I think I see the problem here.

As for the editors of SWTLQTC, I echo Glenn's feelings of confusion as to why you would publish this. It would almost be more legitimate if it were a joke. As the SW area grows and expands, you have the opportunity to be a valuable source of information on the neighborhood. Please don't sully that with the self-aggrandizing angst of those that have been "wronged," something that is too common in DC. This is the sort of thing that completely removes the value of hyper-local blogging.

Marrio TheBlackGuy said...

As a longtime SW resident, I have to agree, Cantina Marina is lacking and this is exactly the place to make posts such as this. Not everything in SW is awesome and sometimes you need to bring light to the less than stellar elements in order to get action. I am glad to see this editorial because for a while I thought I was the only one who thought they were sub par.

Glenn said...

This post is more appropriate on
But then again, it is not my blog, and if it wants to drop down to the level of complaint reviews that fill yelp, then so be it.
But I had come to expect more.

Anonymous said...

I completely and totally agree with Glenn and Jefferson. This is not the appropriate forum for anyone to air grievances about local businesses. If I want to read women whining about complaining about how they were ever so slighted by local businesses, I'll go to Yelp or the Post's GOG.

I have never had a bad experience at Cantina and you know why? I understand what it is. It's never going to have $3 beers. I don't eat there because I just don't care to (although I do enjoy the shrimp tacos, although expensive). I don't bring giant parties to a small 'hood bar on a Friday night. I stop by after Nats games for my free Miller Light (a big reason why Cantina has blown up), maybe another.

On special sunny days in spring or late fall, I'll make it down to enjoy the weather. Don't really need to hang out there when it's 95 and above.

People also need to realize that Cantina has blown up. People are coming from all over the metro area to hang out there. I had a friend who lives in Shirlington have her b-day there a while back because she heard about the outdoor deck. That never happened years ago. A big part of this is the free beer with your Nats ticket promotion.

Sure, Cantina is far from perfect. It's expensive, it's expensive and it's expensive. Their happy hour specials are awful. I don't eat there, so people claim the food is awful. But the employees are pleasant to the locals (who are pleasant to them, it's amazing how some people still insist on treating service employees like trash), Cantina usually has great music playing on the PA (one Saturday afternoon was like 90s alternative revolution at Cantina, awesome) and during the early spring and fall, it's a great place to have a few drinks. I'd rather have Cantina and its flaws than some brand new joint that just opened charging $6 drafts like we have in Station 4 or some Penn Quarter joint.

Harbour Square Guys said...

My partner and I are relatively new (late April) residents of SW, and even WE know that you let the tourists and suburbanites have Cantina on Friday nights. We have been hitting Cantina probably at least once every 2-3 weeks (weeknights) since moving here, and occasional Saturday or Sunday afternoons, and always have had great service. Frozen margaritas beat many in town, and we love the fish tacos: Nice marinade, fresh-tasting salsa, and excellent ripe avocados (remember to add avocado to your order). And that location! It always feels like we've gotten away to the beach -- but it's just a block from home! And who'd have thought we could have such a great-tasting and healthy meal at such a quirky, down-home "beachy" type place. Love it!

Jesus said...

Bottom-line: Cantina Marina sucks! I fully agree with the original poster. Every single time I have gone there the servers were slow, rude, and very unhelpful. I used to be both a bartender and a waiter, and know how to treat them, and how they should treat me.

The food is expensive and bad, the same with the drinks. The beer selection is crap. They really could do so much more with that place, it would be a wonderful place to take a date or have brunch. I won't be sad to see them torn down though with the new development. They deserve it.