Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vida (Mexican Kitchen & Cantina)

It’s hard not to be lured into Vida (Mexican Kitchen & Cantina), with its large pictures of margaritas and bright colorful sign outside. The restaurant is at the corner of Trade and College Streets, one of the most bustling intersections in Uptown Charlotte, and part of the three-story nightlife-staple EpiCentre

Upon my entry, I immediately noticed the floor: the tiles look like miniature tree stumps! Large windows beside the bar provide a great view of the city. I was seated upstairs, where another bar was located. I felt very “VIP” up there, where I could overlook the entire restaurant. It’s nearly impossible for me to resist margs with my Mexican food, so I inquired about the restaurant’s signature ‘rita. Our waiter claimed their version of the “SkinnyGirl Margarita” hit Bethany Frankel’s out of the park, so I ordered one. It was delicious. I didn’t pucker from the traditional sour mix, like usual. It tasted clean and refreshing…well, as clean and refreshing as Tequila can taste.

I’m one of those weird people who likes salt on their tortilla chips (I also like ketchup with my scrambled eggs, but that’s another post…) so I was very pleased when the chips were perfectly pre-salted. The salsa was slightly chunky and had a noticeable kick – so delicious I practically drank it. 

I ordered the Mushroom Enchiladas, filled with grilled portobellos, spinach and caramelized onions. While the filling was delicious, I found the corn tortillas a little dry and bland. Goat cheese, pico de gallo and a chipotle cream topped the dish, which complemented it nicely. 

For my two sides, I chose Grilled Corn with Queso Fresco and a Ripe Plantain and Black Bean Mash (plantains are very similar to bananas, but not as sweet.)The Grilled Corn tasted like that deliciously salty and buttery corn you get at the fair, but better, since it was topped with Queso Fresco. The Mash was exactly that – a mash. If it had been more visually stimulating, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more. 

Vida does a terrific job of delivering upscale Mexican cuisine with a twist. It’s the perfect restaurant for dinner before a show at the Blumenthal, or a night out in Uptown Charlotte!

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