It’s a Toss Up
Melt in Your Mouth Mexican Cuisine From La Vida Cantina
WRITTEN BY: NICOLE TOWNEND | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: ALEX THOMPSON
A hot new concept by the company who owns Sutra OC Nightclub, La Vida Cantina is an oasis in the heart of Costa Mesa’s buzzing hotspot hangout, The Triangle. Lounge under the giant palapas on the patio or sip on signature cocktails at either of their lively bars. This new joint offers spacious, festive and trendy indoor and outdoor atmospheres that are sure to captivate and be your new place to be seen while enjoying fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine made in-house.
With the smell of savory flavors filling the air, La Vida is not a place to pass up. The menu was conceived by La Vida’s owners, Chef Francisco Perez, and General Manager Isabelle Rodrigues, who has a seasoned career in the restaurant industry which includes one of SoCal’s most sought-after Mexican restaurants.
Equal parts delicious as it is decadent, the cantina offers the complete package. The outdoor pentagon-shaped bar, oversized umbrellas and five fire pits are a unique enticement to the surrounding scene of The Triangle. As the night unfolds and the temperature drops, you’ll want to cozy closer to the fire or head inside to the dark wooded and warmly-lit atmosphere with contemporary Mexican murals that create the inviting interior.
“We have spared no detail in creating the atmosphere, fresh food, amazing cocktails and friendly service, ” said Rob Arellano of Newport Beach-based Identity Management Group, which recently purchased the restaurant. “La Vida, or ‘the life’ in Spanish, is a fun play on the memorable dining experiences we provide our guests. Regardless if you’re dining with family, friends, on a date, or having drinks after work with colleagues, you will want to tell everyone about enjoying La Vida.”
Highlighted in this piece is a mouth watering chopped salad coined the Ensalada de Salmon. It features chopped spinach mixed with roasted corn, red onion, avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper and cherry tomato tossed with a creamy poblano pepper dressing and topped with fresh (never frozen) grilled salmon and queso fresco. When asked why they chose this item for the menu, General Manager Isabelle Rodrigues says she likes things chopped and tossed, so you get all the delicious flavors in each bite. They recommend pairing the salad with their signature Ginger Mint Margarita. For dessert? Try their unique flan made with roasted corn or their delicious homemade churros.
Don’t miss out on their late night happy hour, Taco Tuesday and Sunday brunch. In addition to offering a regular happy hour with drink and appetizer specials, La Vida Cantina is open until 2am serving food and cocktails Thursday- Saturday, which is hard to find. La Vida’s Taco Tuesday can’t be beat with beer, margarita and taco specials and live music on their beautiful patio—close your eyes and you’ll think you’re in Cabo! Looking for lunch? La Vida is now open for lunch Friday and Saturday at 11am.
Sunday Funday brings La Vida’s brunch, with an array of fresh Mexican dishes and bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys offered from 9am-2pm. In addition to classics like Huevos Rancheros, one of the more popular dishes is a mouth-watering spicy breakfast sandwich, the B.A.T.E. Sandwich, complete with multi-grain bread, a light chipotle aioli, jalapeño bacon, egg, jack cheese, tomato and avocado.
Ensalada de Salmon INGREDIENTS:
Creamy poblano pepper dressing | Red onion | Red bell pepper | Cucumber | Cherry tomato tossed | Roasted corn | Chopped spinach g8. Queso fresco | Avocado | Fresh salmon
GENERAL MANAGER, ISABELLE RODRIGUES’ Favorite Items:
Blackberry Jalapeño Margarita: Don Julio Reposado tequila hand- shaken with fresh blackberries, jalapeños, agave nectar and lime juice
Kawika’s Margarita: A blend of Don Julio Reposado tequila, St. Germain liqueur, Herradura Agave Nectar with fresh pineapple, jalapeños and lime juice, topped with La Vida’s proprietary blend of spices for the rim
Tostaditas de Ahi: Three small crispy tortillas topped with house chipotle sauce then layered with fresh diced ahi, mixed with mango, red onion, cilantro and serrano pepper, garnished with an avocado slice
Fajitas de Asada: Seasoned marinated skirt steak sautéed with onions, garlic, poblano peppers
and red bell peppers, served with guacamole and sour cream, choice of corn or flour tortillas
Chile negro: used to marinate the Fajitas de Asada “There are amazing flavors you can get out of this dry poblano pepper!”
FAVORITE BRUNCH ITEM:
La Vida Omelet: Natural smoked ham, jack cheese, onions, poblano peppers, mushrooms and red bell peppers, topped with avocado and a drizzle of tomatillo sauce, served with breakfast potatoes and refried black beans
Caramel Sundae: Vanilla bean ice cream in a crispy cinnamon tortilla bowl filled with a layer of chocolate, drizzled with caramel then topped with cinnamon chips
LA VIDA CANTINA
1870 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627 949.612.2349 www.lavidacantina.com