Dinner at Vida Taco Bar

I recently joined several other local food writers at Vida Taco Bar to indulge in craft margaritas, culinary conversation, and a tasting of Vida’s new menu. I started a3the evening with the Bang Bang, a bright green drink packed with the freshness of cucumber and the slight heat of a jalapeno. Afterwards, I moved to the Herradura Abejo margarita at the suggestion of the mixologist. This is a classic margarita concocted with top shelf tequila that did not disappoint. All of Vida’s drinks use fresh ingredients, quality spirits, and are beautifully garnished. There are even organic tequilas available that come highly recommend by the staff.  The only arguable downside is that the drinks seem to be pretty heavy on the ice.  However, that could just be my lush-y opinion and I suppose it does keep your drink cold from start to finish.a5

Once the base layer of booze was down, we jumped into chips, guacamole, queso, and a tuna ceviche.  The queso was creamy and had a hint of green chile heat to the finish. The ceviche included corn nuts, which not only added a little extra crunch, but also something fun and unexpected to the dish.

Executive Chef Josh Brown and his team experiment with both authentic and innovative flavors and ingredients, resulting in a taco menu with traditional and nontraditional choices. You can personalize your taco by choosing corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or bib lettuce as the shell. I tried the Baja Mahi, Scallop & Cauliflower, Squash and Bean, and fried avocado. The Scallop and Cauliflower was an absolute stand out. The unexpected combination took the butteriness of the scallop, and the crispness of the cauliflower and fresh micro cilantro to create a beautifully orchestrated bite.  It has been over a week since I had it, and the joy of it still lingers. I will advise using caution when it comes to the avocado taco. What at first seems like an innocent, fried avocado taco will actually provide quite the punch of spice. If you like to try things spicy, go for it, but if you’re more of a mild kind of person, please beware. We then concluded our meal with a large, gluttonous plate of warm, yummy powdered sugar-coated churros served with a side of tres leches sauce.A2

Before calling it a night, I was able to spend a few minutes with Chef Brown. He explained how he sources as many ingredients as possible through local farms, giving him the ability to vary his menu with the local growing seasons. There are 14 tacos currently on this season’s menu. I also learned that his favorite taco is the Chorizo and that he encourages his kitchen staff to bring their experiences, flavor preferences, and heritages to the table to assist and offer inspiration when creating new menu items. This is usually a sign of a humble chef who is always striving for growth and originality.

When Vida originally opened, there were several complaints about the portion size vs. price per taco, so of course I had to ask about it. It turns out Vida listened, and Chef Brown said they have since increased the size of the tacos, and will continue to strive to keep the price range for each taco between $3-6. Vida is not your typical Mexican restaurant; they are putting together innovative creations and are using quality ingredients. Personally, I don’t mind paying a little more for that. However, like many people, I am still a bargain hunter. Vida often offers specials like Taco Tuesday, when the entire bill is 20% off, and Margarita Wednesday, when pitchers of Vida Margaritas are $20. I can guarantee I will be back and it will most likely be on one of those days so both my wallet and my palate can leave happy!

Enjoy more photos in the gallery below

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