Get in Here!If you have a friend who was an undergrad at UVA anytime after the mid-90′s, he or she will speak lovingly of Continental Divide. Outside the bounds of where most first and second-year students are likely to roam, tucked away in an easy-to-miss* slot between the thriving food hubs of the Corner and the Downtown Mall, Continental Divide felt like a place you could call your own. The slightly upscale Mexican food was like a more mature Baja Bean, and the margaritas were dramatically better. Unfortunately, if you’ve been back recently, you’ll notice that the food and whole experience is kind of lacking.

The space itself is warmly lit but not especially comfortable. It’s long and narrow, with some cramped tables near the entrance and cushion-less booths running along the wall to the back. The bar dominates the room to such an extent that it feels like serving food was an afterthought, and the music was so loud that we were mildly hoarse by the end of the meal.

Red Hot Blues -- Spicy blue tortilla chips with goat cheese, Monterey Jack, and green onionsWhen it came time to eat, the famous “Red Hot Blues” appetizer — spicy blue tortilla chips with goat cheese — was good, but the salsa it came with was an ice-cold mush of ingredients past their prime. The Santa Fe enchilada looked beautiful and tasted fine, if only because it was swimming in a deluge of melted cheese. The pork of the Yucatan pork tacos was not flavorful and a little too fatty for our tastes, and lacked any redeeming accompaniments. Finally, our friend Shannon said she enjoyed the special shrimp and chorizo tacos but she only ate half of one of the two and when I tried it I found it quite undelicious — raw cold tortilla, tough spinach, and skeezy chorizo.

Some people love it, and if you go Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, you’ll see such people crammed into the small space waiting upwards of 90 minutes for a patch of table to eat on. This is a blessing in disguise because the mediocre food will taste a notch or two better after an hour of drinking.

*Don’t look for a Continental Divide sign. Look for a neon sign that says “Get in Here.”

Erin says: “Menu sounds promising, execution disappoints.”

award_star_gold_3 16Rating: Erin: Jed:

thumb_up 16 iconPros: Good hot sauce, “Red Hot Blues” appetizer.

thumb_down 16 iconCons: Loud, cramped, mediocre.

money_dollar 16 iconPrice: Entrees $10-15.

car famfam 16 iconParking: Usually a spot available somewhere along Main Street.

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