Nearby points of interest
Nearby points of interest
Spanish Heart / Southern Soul from the crew at Vin Rouge.
Durham, NC 27701
Spanish, Tapas / Small Plates
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday - Thursday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm and 5:00 - 10:30 pm; Friday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm - 12:00 am; Saturday 5:00 pm - 12:00 am and Sunday 5:00 - 9:30.
$30 and under
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
There is a small lot beside our restaurant as well as street parking. There is also a large parking lot located behind Mateo on Ramseur St.
Bar Dining, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine
Mateo Ratings and Reviews
Mateo is a very good dining option with a downtown buzz. Two of us shared four small plates and we were very content with the amount of food. (Our server said the number of recommended dishes depends on which ones you order.) The regular menu options were nicely seasoned--notable was their chicken pâté, a perfect portion to share with a surprising hint of sweetness. The star of the evening was a special of the day--monkfish with a lobster butter sauce over a spoon of velvety grits. It was a truly memorable dish which bumped our four star rating to five. We were seated about 20 minutes after our reservation time and service was friendly, in spite of servers being a bit rushed to accommodate the crowd. We were not well-versed in the Spanish wine selections and recommendations were spot on. We knew Mateo's excellent reputation so the big surprise was that we were able to have a lovely, special dinner for two-- including 3 glasses of wine--for under $100. The value means we will be able to come back sooner!
I've been twice, and will go again. It's one of the 20 or 30 best restaurants in the triangle, another jewel in Durham's great restaurant scene, and it's open on Sunday. It's not the cheapest place around, but they have some great food. I strongly recommend trying at least one of the hams, and save the bread to eat with the gambas (the shrimp in olive oil with peppers and lemon). The wine list is focused on Spanish wines, but they are fine. I have a friend from Spain who likes this place, but also says that they take some liberties with some traditional Spanish dishes. I don't have a problem with adapting dishes to regionally available ingredients. For instance, they had a clam dish that included boiled peanuts. I never met anyone who wasn't from eastern North Carolina that liked boiled peanuts (you have to use peanuts that are still green), but for others born east of Interstate 95, it's a worthy dish.
Mateo remains one my favorite Durham spots. It's a great place to go on a special occasion -- although can be on the loud side when busy -- and consistently has good food and good wine. Service is also reliably good. I think it's a tad pricey for what it is, but that's probably to be expected in that location. Do try to get a reservation if you're going on a Thursday - Saturday, though, as otherwise it can be hard to get in.
I have been here multiple times and it is one of my favorite spots. The food and drinks were good as usual but the only thing I was disappointed with was the octopus. Normally this is one of my favorite dishes however much to my surprise they changed the presentation and flavoring of it. I asked the food runner about it and he confirmed that was in fact the octopus and that they changed it because sometimes they make seasonal changes. Was not happy with it but overall still a great experience.
Unlike past visits, we were seated upstairs. While the downstairs dining is more like a vibrant Madrid tapas bar (and fun in its own way), upstairs is quieter and much more conducive to conversation. But - upstairs or down - the food and Spanish wines are worth the visit.
The food is quite good, and the beer selection includes a nice Spanish lager. The service was mediocre. It took 10 minutes for us to receive attention, and that was after I got up and asked the host. The noise level is not "Energetic," it is simply too loud. Conversation is difficult.
Our waiter was great, though we could barely hear him due to the very noisy environment. Food was fine, but nothing spectacular, although the desserts were good. It is very crowded /tight dining, so definitely not recommended for a romantic / quiet /private evening. We had reservations made a month in advance. We waited over 15 minutes for a table, despite the reservation. The hostesses were very nice and apologetic. The manager was absolutely unconcerned and barely apologetic. Our total meal, with bottle of wine and tip, was over $170 for the two of us. I would've much rather spent that money somewhere else where the food and environment were more memorable. We won't be back.
We had 7 dishes (small plates). 3 were done well, 2 were average, and 2 were below par. The tortilla was especially poorly made, and if the advertised chorizo and aioli were in it we certainly couldn't find them. None of the dishes had any garlic, an essential of Spanish cooking. We have had some 6 weeks of dining in Spain over the years, so we know what good Spanish good should be like.
I arrived with a 7 PM reservation on a Thursday night, checking out Mateo for the first time. We were told on arrival that our table had their check and we would have our table shortly, but we should grab a drink by the bar while we waited. 30 min later, still no table, though notably several middle tables remained empty the entire time. I approached the host and asked for an update, and he was quite rude. On my way back to the bar, a check came out to a table near the door. Ten minutes later, the host finally approached us and told us once we settled at the bar, our table was open (now 40-45 minutes after our reservation). We were finally directed to our table, the very same which had received their check ten minutes prior. Clearly, the host had mismanaged reservations and then lied about it.
From their our experience got remarkably better. Our waiter was spectacular - full of character, humor, and took care to explain the menu and recommendations at length with us. We got to ordering and tried a host of different plates. All of them were great, though several were exceptional. The chicken croquetas were delicious, the pan con tomate was surprisingly excellent for a simple dish, the slow-cooked brisket was to die for, etc. Dishes came out pretty quickly, other than the two pasta dishes we ordered, which took a good bit longer. Our server recommended 2-4 per person, and to order in waves, which worked out well for us.
However, I find a 45 min wait for a table (with reservation) unacceptable, particularly with no hint of an apology. Light is too dim, and I noticed multiple tables with people trying to read the menu via cell phone flashlight. Mood lighting is fine, but they've taken it too far here. Lastly, it is REALLY loud in here. Some of the food here is absolutely incredible, but particularly given the price (justified if you can receive both excellent food AND service) I'm hard pressed to want to return here after our experience with the host on duty.
Mateo continues to impress! Even with so many high quality restaurants.in the area, I'm glad to return to Mateo every so often ( I wish it was more often!). The specials and regular menu options were all excellent: we even ordered an additional serving of the sea scallop special.
We made a reservation for 9:15 PM and we were not seated until 9:50. Our server then did not approach us for another 10 minutes and did not even acknowledge that we had been waiting 45 minutes. He continued to be rather inattentive throughout the night, not to mention he took the check from the table while we were still seated.
The restaurant is rather closely packed so if you’re unfortunate enough (as we were) to sit next to someone with a loud, obnoxious voice, there’s really no escape.
Despite the disappointing service and overwhelming noise level, the food made it worth the trip. The beet tartare was particularly delicious, unique and well-presented. I would recommend dining here only if you can get a table at opening to avoid the wait and the noise.
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