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“Moderately priced mediocrity”
Review of Joya

Joya
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Ranked #14 of 361 Restaurants in Palo Alto
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$25 - US$83
Cuisines: South American, Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Florence Street
Transit: Palo Alto Caltrain stop is just a few blocks away.
Description: From tapas to entradas, Joya Restaurant and Lounge provides a modern interpretation of the rich culinary lineage of Spain and Latin America. Joya is proud to have teamed with Shopworks (designers of W-Hotels in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego) to create a natural-hued, contemporary restaurant and lounge that imparts guests with a feeling of comfortable exclusivity. So if you are looking to enjoy a refined Latin-influenced dining experience, new age cocktails and festive live music, we invite you to join us at Joya Restaurant & Lounge.
Reviewed 21 June 2014

Good but not great tapas in downtown Palo Alto. In spite of a full house, we lucked out with a mere 15 minute wait for a table of four around 8 PM on a Wednesday evening. Noise level could have been lower, but blame that on the team of intoxicated Facebook employees who were finishing their meal next to us.

I began mine with the tomatillo and avocado gazpacho. For a green variety of one of my favorite summer creations, it provided an enjoyable start to a somewhat mixed set of platters to follow. We ordered the ceviche combo – three types of lemon-cured fish. Not my favorite preparation, but the spicy shrimp was yummy. The deep fried Latin empanadas were quite filling, but they weren’t any more delicate than sandpaper. The chicken ‘anticuchos’ were well seasoned but slightly overcooked. Grilled asparagus were good, as was the charcuterie assortment, but the grilled artichokes with enhanced Thousand Island dressing lacked inspiration. Had I wanted to eat sixteen layers of artichoke leaves, I would have steamed them at home where I don't have to worry about staying clean. Is it normal to have a pie-eating contest on business? I don’t think so! Then why must I smother my face into greasy artichoke leaves like a pig in hopes of finding the prized artichoke heart that should have been the focus of this dish in the first place? Speaking of which, the lackluster churrros for desert looked like miniature hotdogs, and there was no whipped cream to accompany the chocolate sauce. My local Mexican café offers a much better version at a lower price; one expects more of a trendy yuppity uppity joint in downtown Palo Alto.

The best tapas was sautéed dino kale & mushrooms. They were prepared as an eclectic combination with gorgonzola cheese and sliced grapes. Additionally, seared bay scallops were served on a green plantain purée, with grilled sweet corn and tamarind beure blanc.

Clearly the food had its highs and lows, although presentation and delivery needed improvement across the board. Yes, orders arrived quickly, but we never got serving utensils. Even though our place settings were regularly changed, it was still awkward and borderline unhygienic to help ourselves to these group dishes using our own forks and knives, especially for second portions. Not to pile on, but the table was so wobbly, we suffered from sea sickness.

The subpar performance notwithstanding, I have to hand it to one of the waiters for running after me onto the street with my wallet. Somehow I left it behind, probably because I had left my brain in the meeting room that day after trying to absorb twelve hours of cloudy information. Still, the return of my wallet was symbolically aligned with our future expense report, because for the first time that week, we weren’t embarrassed to get the bill. Even though some of the prices seem outrageous on paper ($27 for the three small ladles of ceviche, $12.50 for no more than ¼ pound of glorified cold-cut meat), we were able to consume all this variety for about $35 per person. Mediocre food and good prices – not necessarily a bad combination for those needing to control costs, and definitely an attractive one for those managing the budget back home at corporate headquarters! 3.5 stars!

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4  Thank Cherry_Wonderdog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (207)
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124 - 128 of 207 reviews

Reviewed 19 May 2014

Tapas. Something you don't find in Palo Alto much. Tapas with a district Californian twist! Try braised short rib tacos! A more traditional Latin American dishes are also served, like paella. The Argentina hanger steak was very nice. The waitress was friendly and helpful. Relaxed atmosphere.

Thank Frank d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2014

Fun place to visit and share some small plates. The food was really good, but a little pricey for the size. They have a selection of fun drinks. Overall a nice place to eat and the service was excellent.

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Thank lcoconut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2014

Great menu selections. The banana and coconut pancakes were great; the homemade syrup and fresh pan fried plantains are delicious. The dollop of flavored whipped cream was amazing. The chicken sandwich was great. Service, at a time that was not busy, was terrible. Incredibly slow service, no follow up visit to the table and condiments (salt, pepper etc) were provided and when requested literally took nearly 5 minutes to get a salt shaker. When the staff did come by, they were all pleasant and competent.

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Thank Gl0bal_guru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2014

The interior design and great service set the tone for this very good restaurant. I've eaten here a few times and I've always ordered from the tapas menu, which is consistently good. This time I ordered a main course instead. The salmon was cooked to perfection, full of moisture, texture and flavor. However, the accompanying brussels sprouts were a bit rubbery in texture and totally lacking in flavor. The restaurant should rework their technique with those particular vegetables. My dining companions ordered some delicious calamari, tortilla soup, and other tapas, all of which were very tasty as usual. Our server was really friendly and attentive, even as the restaurant became more and more crowded. Overall, it was another great dining experience.

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Thank je-voyage-partout
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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