javeamigos.com | INDEXjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - FIESTA GUIDEjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - EATING AND DRINKINGjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - WALKING GUIDEjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - HOLIDAY GUIDE

javeamigos.com | JAVEA - BUSINESS DIRECTORYjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - PAPERWORKjaveamigos.com | SPORT IN JAVEAjaveamigos.com | JAVEA - EVENTS GUIDEjaveamigos.com | ADVERTISE WITH US


javeamigos.com | JAVEA: CHIRINGUITO SURVEY 2016

It's back by popular demand! After a year's absence, the javeamigos.com Chiringuito Survey returns for its sixth edition, a critical look at the five main beach bars of Xbia which line the seafront between the port and the Arenal each summer between May and October. In our survey, we're not looking for the most popular or the trendiest, current in-vogue place to have a drink or two or indeed the cheapest although cost is taken into consideration. What we have been looking for is the one beach bar that made us think "I really don't want to leave this place!" - essentially the venue that really made us feel comfortable and want to while away a few hours by the sea. It's the review that serves to divide opinion like no other and each year a different beach bar has come out on top as our favourite place to spend some time relaxing in front of the Mediterranean.

What are the beach bars?
The current leases came up for renewal in 2014 when each available site was reduced in size to a 20 square metre position between the port and the Arenal. The starting bid price for each was 24,000 euros, up 33% on the last opening bid in 2010 when owners paid on average just over 55% above the starting price. In 2014, there were between 10 and 14 bids for each of the five available positions with the winners paying on average over 92% above the starting price; one position was secured by a bid almost 200% above the opening price of 24,000 euros! Obviously there's some money to be made on the rocky shore of Jvea.

What did we look at?
We 
considered several factors in our survey: service, ambiance, comfort, facilities, food, price and this year we introduced a rating for the Internet connection since its availability has become an important concern for many people aiming to keep in touch using their smart phones and tablets. In each chiringuito, we tried to sit as far away from the bar as possible to test the efficiency of the waiting staff and ordered a small beer, a tinto de verano, a mojito and a simple chicken, bacon and mayonnaise bocadillo. We assessed the general ambiance of each beach bar and whether we felt that it created the right sort of relaxing atmosphere. We assessed the comfort of the furniture, the space between the tables and if the beach bar had tried to cram as many people into the small space as possible, the 'wobble effect' of those tables and whether there was enough shade for all the tables available which would protect clients from the fierce summer sun. And we assessed the price. The chiringuitos are forever criticised for charging comparatively higher prices and they are perhaps justified to do so, seeing the prices that they paid in the tender process. But would that put people off visiting them?

Finally, we appreciate from the several emails and comments that we receive after each survey that our readers have their favourite beach bar and we know that not everyone will agree with us. Yet this is the whole point of this survey: to make our own assessment of each chiringuito without fear of bias. These are our findings.


MINTT
Facebook Page: Mintt Javea (3,311 likes)
Now in its 7th year, Mintt is without doubt one of the most popular beach bars, especially amongst the ex-pat community, unsurprising given its proximity to the Arenal beach area. For 2016 it's gone back to basics. The much-maligned raised wooden gazebo has gone and the tables are set amongst potted plants and a landscaped central feature wih a fountain, although this didn't appear to be working during our visit. Beach bars work on premium space and the current tender which began in 2014 has reduced the available area to 20 square metres and this time it seems most if not all the bars are abiding by the rules. That appears to have a consequence and we felt that too many tables had been prised into a small space, almost interconnecting with each other, but maybe the issue here is maximising income, especially for Mintt which paid almost three times the initial price to secure the position. Thus it scored low on our comfort scale. In the past, we have strongly commended the level of service, especially for attentiveness at the table; we felt that this was missing during our visit. The interaction wasn't really there; the staff were friendly enough but there wasn't quite that spark that engaged with us; we could have also done with some coasters for our drinks as the condensation threatened to drip from the table into our laps. The second disappointment arrived with our drinks. We also noticed that a table next to us had been served one of their drinks in a dirty glass; this should be basics for staff to notice at the bar before delivery. Whilst you couldn't go wrong with a bottled pre-prepared tinto verano and a small glass of beer, we found the mojito to be quite tasteless, almost as if itself had been poured from a bottle that you might find in a nearby supermarket; it looked quite aneamic and lacked that refreshing mint kick that is so attractive about the cocktail. We felt much the same about the gin and tonic; a small measure of gin had been swamped by melting ice whilst it sat on the bar waiting to be served; adding the tonic just made it even blander. And the complementary spicy peanuts! Certainly our bugbear! Not to everyone's taste, it would be nice to have another choice which everyone on our table could enjoy. Small issues but things that remain at the back of your mind. We ordered a chicken, bacon and cheese bocadillo which was packed well although we would have liked to have been informed that it came with the caramelised onions. That said, it was tasty (even for those who didn't like onions after they had removed them) and one of the best of the afternoon. Finally, the toilets were nicely hidden away behind a landscaped fence, clean with plenty of paper and autoflush. It would have been nice to have some handwash available; we found a bottle on the bar but it wasn't clear if this was for general use or just for the waiting staff. Mintt has a popular Facebook page, updated fairly regularly (although not in recent days), and you can view it in situ on your tablet or smartphone via the WiFi connection, although the speed test by Ookla produced the slowest download speed of the five beach bars by a long way, just over a third of the average of the other four venues.

SAONA
Facebook Page: Chirinquito Saona (138 likes)
Saona is one of the nicest looking beach bars of the five this year, its covered decked area nicely decorated with plants with comfortable furniture, albeit packed into the shade to avoid the hot afternoon sunshine. It was busy when we visited so there must be something special about the place. Our experience was indeed something special but not for the right reasons. We arrived to claim one of the tall tables just outside the main area which was full. The table was dirty and when the waitress eventually noticed out presence, she arrived to give the table a quick wipe with the palm of her hand which only succeeded in piling the crumbs at one end; a wet cloth (which we feel every member of staff should carry as a norm) would have been sufficient just to have given the table top a good clean for the next customers; sadly this wasn't a one-off issue. Our drinks ordered, we asked for the bocadillo only to be told that the kitchen was closed (we arrived at 4.00pm; a sign on the bar clearly stated food was served until 4.30pm) but she would check for us since we only wanted a bocadillo; they were clearly still serving food. On her return she announced that it could be done and presented us with a menu. We asked for a chicken, bacon and cheese bocadillo. She replied that they didn't do them but pointed out a sandwich on the menu: chicken bacon and cheese. We asked if we could have it in a bocadillo; she wandered off again to ask; she never returned with an answer. There was a fair wait for the drinks during which time we noticed a table in the shade had become vacant and moved to get out of the sun. After a few head-scratching moments from the staff, our bocadillo was safely delivered to our table - ahead of the drinks which had yet to arrive, although the staff didn't seem that concerned. However, when our drinks did arrive - less one of them which admittedly the waiter did query, they were just about worth the long wait with the mojito in particular coming out as one of the best of the afternoon. The bocadillo was nice enough, the bread in particular, but lacked some taste which might have been resolved by a bit of seasoning. And so we enjoyed some great drinks, ate edible food and watched the farce of a service with some amusement. Cleanliness seemed to be a huge issue with tables left loaded with empty glasses and plates for some time. New customers arrived and hesitated to sit at these tables. A couple even moved to a vacated and cleared table only to watch the staff clear their original table (finally) but continue to ignore the new arrival. When they eventually managed to get an order in, it was brought to table with continuing farce, the staff placing their drinks and then looking rather confused when he decided to wipe the table with a wet cloth only to find those drinks in his way! Tables struggled to get the attention of the staff who at one point were all behind the bar, one flicking slowly through something on a smartphone. It took us a good while to get their attention to get the bill; when we paid it took even longer to receive the change and after growing bored of waiting, we approached the bar to ask for our change only to be met with bemused faces. It had clearly gone into the tips jar. Now, it doesn't matter whether it's only a few cents, it's the customer who makes the choice on whether tips are awarded not the staff. More farce as they asked how much we had given; more bemused faces. We could have said anything but we were honest. We received our change; it wasn't going to be returned to them voluntarily! Things didn't really improve elsewhere. The toilet, just the one, doubled as a storage area with crates of drinks stacked around it. There was nowhere to wash hands afterwards and when one of our party asked if they had some disinfecting hand cleaner, they were handed a napkin! Internet was available with a decent download speed and, bizarrely, a very decent upload speed recorded during our check; it seems Saona is the place to come for a quick upload. The Facebook page is rarely used by the business itself and comprises mainly of images and comments from customers; it's no surprise that it has just 138 likes. Plenty of work in progress to be done at Chiringuito Saona. Great drinks but seriously let down by the worst service we have ever experienced in six years of the chiringuito survey and the first time we had awarded a ZERO for any category.

VELETA
Facebook Page: Chiringuito Veleta Javea (548 likes)
A winner in 2012, Veleta got carried away in recent years, spreading along the coast and clearly flouting the maximum space allowed. It is now playing by the rules and is better for it. We found a table on the wooden deck and were quickly attended to. Immediately we grimaced at the plastic chairs under the hot sunshine and a few cushions might have made it more comfortable. We realise that a fair proportion of custom comes from the beach. dripping wet as they may be from a dip in the sea just a few metres away, but the option to take a cushion would be a nice addition. Our drinks arrived in good time; the mojito was certainly one of the best of the day but it was also one of the most expensive at 7,20 euros. The bocadillo, ordered with the minimum of fuss, was also tasty. The toilets were clean -"bog standard" as one of our party quiped - but perhaps most importantly the staff were able to provide some disinfectant hand wash on request. Veleta turned out to be the cheapest of the five for most of our benchmark items - except the mojito! Access to the Internet was very good, some 3 times faster than Mintt, with a decent upload speed as well. The Facebook page is active and updated regularly. Scored the best for overall price.

L'AGIUA BEACH CLUB
Facebook Page: Laigua Beach Club Javea (444 likes)
The 2014 winner. Would it retain its title? We enjoyed very quick service but the young waitress lacked that welcoming smile. We arrived at 5.15pm and there was no problem with kitchen providing us with some food. We quite liked the look of the beach bar's terrace with its wooden decking and artificial grass and there was lots of space between the tables so you didn't feel as if you were sitting on top of each other; the seats were nice and comfortable too so it was unsurprising that it scored best for comfort. Sadly, L'Aigua was let down by the mojito which was the worst of the bunch; a "dirty mojito" made with a non-descript dark rum which gave an initial taste of coffee and vanilla rather than mint. We asked the waitress, still devoid of a smile, if we had been served the wrong drink but she simply shrugged, confirmed it was a mojito and walked away. When the bocadillo arrived, we were further disappointed and again, it was the worst of the bunch; it looked great but the tough bread actually hurt the roof of the mouth making it very difficult to eat; we were, however, supplied with condiments and salt & pepper, the only place to do so. Access the Internet was excellent, the fastest download speed with over 8.0 mpbs, whilst their Facebook page is regularly updated with latest offers and events. We found that there was no lock on the ladies toilet - this may have been rectified by the time of writing - but we were pleased to find a bottle of handwash available right next to them.

BAJA BAY
Facebook: Chiringuito Baja Bay Javea (486 likes)
Finished bottom in the 2014 survey but Baja Bay has improved markedly over the past couple of years. Last time we were sitting around a cramped table with stores stacked up next to us which meant we had to move out of the way when staff needed something; that's changed and the wooden terrace has plenty of space and doesn't feel too cramped and with some room to expand when it does get busy. The background music was very chilled whilst the service was very friendly and super fast, even with the terrace being almost full to capacity. We were presented rather abruptly with the bill without asking for it but we put this down to the shift change.  They didn't have a menu but were able to produce a bocadillo to our specifications with proved to be best of the afternoon although, at 7,95 euros, it was the most expensive by more than a euro. Being a Sunday evening, they had run out of several things, including the mint to make the mojito but the smiling waitress, so welcoming, the best of the bunch, suggested coming back the following day to try one: great marketing, we probably would do as well! Access to the Internet was decent with an average download speed of just under 6 mbps, the second best of the five. However, the Facebook page not updated very regularly so we couldn't find a great deal of information about latest offers and events. We were particularly pleased to find running water and soap in the toilets but no lock on the door on the gents. Good background music. Baja Bay was the most expensive of the five by a long way but scored the best for service, ambience and food.


THE 2016 WINNER OF THE JAVEAMIGOS.COM CHIRINGUITO SURVEY IS:

CHIRINGUITO BAJA BAY

All factors taken into consideration, our findings are as follows:

Baja Bay
2014: 5th

SERVICE

AMBIENCE

COMFORT

BOCADILLO

PRICE

INTERNET

TOTAL

10.0

10.0

8.0

10.0

2.0

8.0

8.0


L'Aigua
2014: 1st

SERVICE

AMBIENCE

COMFORT

BOCADILLO

PRICE

INTERNET

TOTAL

8.0

8.0

10.0

4.0

4.0

10.0

7.3


Veleta
2014: 4th

SERVICE

AMBIENCE

COMFORT

BOCADILLO

PRICE

INTERNET

TOTAL

6.0

4.0

4.0

8.0

10.0

6.0

6.3


Mintt
2014: 1st

SERVICE

AMBIENCE

COMFORT

BOCADILLO

PRICE

INTERNET

TOTAL

6.0

8.0

4.0

8.0

8.0

2.0

6.0


Saona
2014: 3rd

SERVICE

AMBIENCE

COMFORT

BOCADILLO

PRICE

INTERNET

TOTAL

0.0

2.0

6.0

6.0

6.0

4.0

4.0


Previous Winners
2015 no survey
2014 L'Aigua Beach Club / Mintt
2013 Coco Beach
2012 Veleta
2011 Mintt
2010 Carpe Diem

Despite the results, we think we can all acknowledge that our chiringuitos are great places to enjoy a refreshing cool drink during a hot summer day, appreciating the fantastic environment of the bay of Jvea, live music and perhaps a chance to dance under a clear moonlit sky. Not so long ago, there was some talk about them disappearing altogether; we can feel lucky that they continue to give us great pleasure.


Share on Tumblr

javeamigos.com | BESIDES THE SEA