Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad experience at Rumberos

On Monday (after finding CommonWealth closed) some friends and I decided to check out Rumberos, the Latin restaurant on 14th Street. I hadn't been before and was curious to try it and sit outside. The food was decent, but the service was terrible.

We got some cocktails first, which were fine, although the people next to us didn't like theirs. Then a waiter arrived, different from the one who got our drinks. We should have known something was up, because when my friend asked how one of the dishes was, the waiter said "your guess is as good as mine." Not really a ringing endorsement.

Two of us got things from the Restaurant Week menu and the other guy got two tapas. The table next to us got bread and olive oil without asking, but we didn't have any. We had finished our drinks and water, and after a long enough wait that we were talking about it, we got the appetizers from our Restaurant Week menus, and my buddy got one of his two tapas, which were all pretty good. We finished those and waited some more.

At this point, the waiter hadn't checked on us at all, and my friend wanted some salt. When he tried to signal the waiter to come over, he brought us the check instead, which was annoying - before the entrees or anything, and he didn't seem to find that odd. The place wasn't busy or anything, there were maybe 5 other tables of people, and most of the time the waiter was just standing inside the restaurant (we were sitting outside). He took the check back and we put in drink orders and stuff - cue more waiting and confusion about what beer I ordered, as the first waiter came back and said they were out or something I hadn't ordered.

Eventually they brought out two of the entrees, which were OK. They still hadn't cleared any of the dishes or finished drinks, so the table was packed. My entree, pork with plantains and mojo sauce, was really sour. Maybe mojo sauce is supposed to be sour, but it wasn't appetizing and I couldn't get through it. And my friend's second tapa, steak, hadn't shown up. When he tried to get the waiter's attention by looking at him, the waiter did one of those "what's up" nods back, without coming over. Then my friend went to talk to the manager about the steak, and she was apologetic and brought it out soon enough. They also forgot one of the desserts, bringing out the check instead.

Needless to say, we were all pretty annoyed at this point, and the manager was very apologetic when we told her of all the waiter mishaps, she took some off our bill and gave us a gift certificate. It seemed like the two different waiters weren't communicating or something, and they forgot to put things in (the steak, the dessert), didn't check on us, and so on. At this point we'd been there about 2.5 hours. The people next to us were also pretty frustrated by slow service and no follow-ups, though they said the brunch there was very good. That may be, but I'm not going to find out.

Obviously this could have just been a random snafu, and the place looked nice, but this was a frustrating enough trip that I don't want to go back.


  1. My mom's credit card number was stolen at Rumbero's. While we were there, I asked the waiter to recommend a dish that did not have a specific ingredient to which I am allergic. I took the suggestion. When the dish was brought out, it was a different dish with allergy causing ingredient. There were two different waiters during this experience too. Perhaps messed up communication was to blame. I was ticked off that they recommended something, brought me something else that could have caused me to puke all night, and then blamed it on me, so I vowed never to return. Later that week my mom's credit card was charged for a trip on an airline we'd never heard of, and the credit card company shut down the account. She'd only used the card at Rumberos and Kinkos.

  2. This place is SUCH a waste. Great location, huge beautiful space, but your experiences are consistent with mine -- I've been 3-4 times and each time the service has been abominable despite a 3/4 empty restaurant. The food is not cheap and not terribly appetizing. I just wish a new GM and chef would take over and serve good food and employ waiters who had a clue -- is that so much to ask? Because man, again, gorgeous space ...

  3. I have never been but I have only read nothing but bad things about the place, for both the service and the food. And your article just continues to confirm everything I read. So I guess I will continue to avoid it.

  4. Another vote for avoiding Rumbero's. The food is terrible and overpriced. Hopefully with all the new places open on Irving, Rumbero's will step up and start competing.

  5. I have been and I had a great experience all around - though from all the posts it sounds like I am in the minority and perhaps just got lucky. I hope not, I would like to go back sometime.

  6. I agree--terrible service, and definitely overpriced, but I've found the food to pretty good!

  7. Agreed, the service there in my experience has always veered towards the sleepy and lackadaisical side, though consistent with my experience with restaurant service in South America. I do enjoy their dishes and the owner is wonderful. I used to blame the poor service on their newness and attempts to work out the kinks but the place isn't the newest kid on the block anymore so why does the service still suck so badly?

  8. I've been to Rumberos many times and always had a very good experience. Good service, good food, good drinks. I've been at least 15-20 times and never had a bad experience. They also are a very good neighbor and host community happy hours for good causes and donate generously to those causes. Please don't let some negative experiences or stories keep you from trying them, or trying them again, they are a much preferable eatery than something like Ruby Tuesdays or another chain that would undoubtedly take their place if they were to fail.

  9. can anyone here suggest someplace else to get good mojitos in the area?

  10. Hi,
    I have been there with my BF 10+ times. I've not had this type of experience. We went with BF's mom & pop when they visited, they LOVED one of the foamy drinks they'd not heard of since 1960's. We GENERALLY take the two-top table next to the bar and consequently have full access to as much salt, water refills, etc that we want.
    The wait staff can be a bit "laid back" -- but I've not experienced or heard of such a response as the "your guess is as good as mine" comment. That's crappy and should be reported to the manager on duty.
    I drink the red wine there and tho' I'm not a big fan of South Am wines, it's generally OK.
    As for the space it is fab. I love the flank steak, shrimp/garlic thing and the squid tapas.

    Agree with the other poster about the owner's support of the neighborhood. He's a small business owner (has one other place in Adams Morgan, too) who really cares about being a good corp citizen, so I might sound like a cheap advertisement, but I truly think it's good to support them.

    Complain about what you don't like -- you should get a dessert or round of drinks AND make the place better for your next visit.


  11. Hi Bill, glad to hear you had good experiences. We did complain to the manager, and she gave us some off our bill and a gift certificate. Hopefully it helps.

  12. I don't want them to fail and I certainly don't want them replaced by a chain. But the fact is, as new competition comes in, they certainly will fail unless they improve. If they were in NYC, with the quality of tapas available there (talking world, worlds, worlds better ingredients, preparation, quality of food, I mean the same items, just objectively better) they would have been dead in the water already. My hope is that they will just simply improve the quality of food. If the food was good, even with the service problems, I'd be there every week instead of, well, never. Because I LOVE the vibe ...

  13. havana village is the best place for mojitos!

    rumberos is way overpriced! i had a casual weds. dinner for over $60 for a date and i and i was still hungry!

  14. Redrocks (11th and Park Road) has GREAT mojitos. Won't serve them unless they have fresh mint in abundance.


  15. I had a one hour wait for the food at Rumbero's last time I was there. I stay clear of there; there are many better Latin food alternatives in adjacent neighborhoods. It also sucks as a party venue unless you bring your own big group there.

    I personally have had great experiences at Inti (Peruvian) on 18th St. And I like the drinks and atmosphere at Chicha Lounge on U.

  16. i had a very very similar experience. 3 rounds of very lame/weak mojitos before any of our food arrived. i had to go to the bar to ask about our drinks and food. one came out 20 minutes ahead of the other entree. we also watched as the waiter spilled a full drink on someone next to us. when we flagged the waiter down for a dessert menu he just brought us the check. the first time i went there i also got really sick from something. sigh...

  17. Oh no, and now they are closed, do you know who will be coming in it's place? BTW the mojitos at Rumba (Adams Morgan)are the best best best. The owner is the same and he is more in charge now since he lives upstairs from it!!!
    cool dude.


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