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Oct 3, 2010 04:24 PM

Vida Cantina Charlotte - Anyone been yet

They just opened but they were packed on Friday. Any Charlotte chowhounds been yet?

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  1. I'd like evidence to the contrary, but I just don't think anyone serious about serving good food would open a restaurant at the Epicenter. Could be another fun bar over there though.

    7 Replies
    1. re: southernitalian

      I can see what you're saying. I did like the sushi at Enzo, but the service was soooo terrible I am never going back. Lunch took an eternity, and there were maybe 5 tables in there. Waiter kept disappearing. Finally realized, they were preparing what had to be 50 lunch orders to go for one party!

      As for Vida, the menu looks great with some non-standard issue items. I do not get the concept of table-side guacamole, though. Ridiculous!

      1. re: hazardnc

        Really? I've had it at Cantina 1511 and kind of liked it. You can have it spiced up to your liking. It took the waitress less than a minute to make and it was really good.

        1. re: hazardnc

          I wanted to try the sushi at Enzo but we went to the bar and had a drink and were so unimpressed by the service we didn't even finish our drink before we left. Painfully slow service and unapologetic to boot.

          As for the table-side guacamole, I guess it's a shtick that every chain concept feels like it needs.

          1. re: lynnlato

            I have to agree table side guacamole is a shtick. I bet it is a shtick that quadruples sales of guacamole and allows for a higher sales price. Hats off to who ever thought of it.

            1. re: lynnlato

              let's hope someone from Enzo see this and tries to change!

            2. re: hazardnc

              So is there something in the drywall at Epicenter that makes restaurant owners located their want to offer poor food and service? Do they want to fail? Seems more likely to me that they are paying top rent to be where lots of people are and just don't have expertise in running a restaurant or are still working out the kinks. Perhaps many drunks seem the norm later in the evening, but as I remember I would like to eat before or after a night of drinking, dancing, partying, etc.

              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                I don't think they plan to fail and many will not. But the Epicenter is about partying, which is fine. Partying and drinks (the cheaper the better) first, food and service second. And there's nothing wrong with that as a business model.

          2. I've eaten at Vida twice now and would agree the place is a bit more about the atmosphere and scene than the food. It's a good attempt to bring contemporary Mexican to Charlotte, but currently is missing a beat or two.

            The first meal was just for 2 and the second attempt was for a larger group of 15. Service was attentive both times and made the large group feel at home.

            Table side guacamole is definitely a shtick, but if done right, lets the diner truly appreciate the freshness of the ingredients and adjusts flavors to their taste. Vida's guac comes in a large stone mortar that becomes a center piece "WOW" factor for a large group. Large enough for at least 5. However, a little work needs to be done if they want to claim to be the best Guacamole in Charlotte. Taste was a bit bland. There was no diced up jalapeno/serrano peppers available to give it a kick. Fresh minced garlic could of added some depth. The lime juice may have been freshly squeezed, but you wouldn't know it since the juicing wasn't done table side and lacked the sweet/tart bite. We ended up grabbing a pepper mill ourselves to flavor it up.

            The ceviche cocktail again was a nice attempt, but missed the target a bit. Good size shrimp and lump crab meat in a large martini glass. We like ceviche because of the fresh, crisp taste it brings through the use of citrus and peppers. The presentation just didn't hit it, coming covered in a standard tomato cocktail sauce, it just didn't look that appealing. Again, this dish lacked any type of peppers and citrus used to marinate the seafood. It just didn't invoke the feeling of sitting dock side, taking in the fresh, clean flavors of the sea.

            I was really surprised with the lack of heat available in the apps, since the complementary chips and salsa came with the waiter adding in a nice smoked chipotle sauce to your desired heat level.

            Between the 2 visits, we went through a good sampling of their other appetizers. The queso and mushroom flautas were the standouts. A good mix of wild mushrooms wrapped in a lightly fried tortilla balanced well with the caramelized onions and goat cheese. The tamals were nothing to write home about though. The masa was too thick, with not enough filling. Since it was so thick, cooking time was probably elevated, leaving the corners of the tamal dried out.

            The adobo rubbed pork chop gave Vida a breathe of life to this foodie. The double cut pork chop was juicy and perfectly cooked. The adobo rub gave it a nice earthy flavor that was not over powering. Side portions were large. The sweet plantains were perfect. A grilled corn on the cob with queso fresco was a nice rustic idea, but just doesn't work with someone trying to naw at the cob with an elegant drink on hand. A deconstructed grilled corn w queso fresco might be a better idea.

            We finished the night off with some fresh churros. The churros come out pipping hot coated with cinnamon sugar, accompanied with a chocolate dipping sauce. This was a nice way to end the meal and very shareable. The only complaint was that the churros needed a bit more time in the fryer to get rid of the slightly wet center.

            If you are a Tequila lover, you will be in love. A large Tequila selection for your sipping pleasure or some interesting Margarita combinations will help to start the night out right.

            Vida was a great place for a large group to have a few drinks and share some laughs. Though Vida is a louder atmosphere with an up-beat vibe, Vida also works out great for an intimate night out with their cozy booths. We could see the direction Vida wants to be going, but has not quite reached the same path as a Rick Bayless in terms of food. Hopefully, Vida can evolve a bit more, and bring Contemporary Latin to a new level in Charlotte.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SkinnyChef

              "not quite reached the same path as a Rick Bayless in terms of food." Wow now that is funny. Same path? Are they even in the same planet?

            2. I have had lunch there. Pretty good. I think the operator is from Capital Grille. Cool atmosphere, good corn on the cob, pretty decent tacos... I posted pics on

              1. Sunday we had had enough of Greensboro and decided to head south for a little shopping and lunch. I was especially excited since I haven’t seen a decent selection of vitamin T since moving here and they had tequila in spades, including quite a few that weren’t on the menu. Both their drink and food menus were creative and modern with little twists here and there. Its definitely an upscale joint and as you’ll see, worth checking out.

                After perusing the drink menu we settled on a round of palomas to start. A nice side note about their cocktails, no crappy sweet and sour. Only agave nectar and lime juice here…I’m sold. The Paloma had lime juice, grapefruit soda and 1800 tequila. It was slightly different than my recipe mainly being the soda used but it was still a damn refreshing cocktail, which went hand in hand with the beautiful weather out on their patio.

                For lunch I couldn’t resist the green chile brisket taco’s with a side of grilled corn with queso fresca. In stark contrast to our ever increasing portion sizes the plates had just enough food although looking a bit sparse. “Eyes are bigger than your stomach” I remember my mom saying. The juicy meat was wrapped with a grilled corn tortilla and topped with caramelized onions and fresh pico. The taco’s were fantastic, although just a tad more filling would be nice and the side was almost as good with the exception of the grilled corn having a but rubbery feel to it. I’m curious if they made a pot of this and used it throughout the weekend.

                I finished the meal off with some dessert…and none other than one of my favorite juices, Casa Noble Repo. While they normally serve blanco’s and repo’s in shot glasses they had no problem serving the CNR ( 1 day shy or being and Anejo) in a snifter that’s normally reserved for anejo’s. I’ve written a good bit about this juice in that its easily in my top 5 tequila’s…ever. The tequila prices are a bit on the high side but North Carolina doesn’t offer very many choices for tequila lovers. Being that the states liquor is controlled it’s the only place you can get some of these bottlings.

                So here’s the deal. If you like your Mexican food on the modern side, in an upscale establishment with a healthy drink menu complete with good line-up of tequila, your going to love Vida. The menu is interesting and at time, playful. The interior design is eclectic while having a minimalist take on Mexican culture and a serious dose of posh modernism. The drinks are all freshly made with some killer ingredients and all 100% agave tequila’s and of course a selection of them that’ll make any aficionado proud

                I'm a purist when it comes to my booze. tequila is to be sipped, not shot without a lime/salt and when mixed you should only use fresh ingredients, no sweet/sour, sugary syrups, etc. I'm basically a whore for tequila. This place could keep me happy for a long time.

                5 Replies
                1. re: johnnyboots

                  I'm rolling my eyes at my snarky comments from last year. I've come to like this place quite a bit but I still wish it wasn't at the Epicenter.

                  1. re: southernitalian

                    snarky comments make things interesting :)

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      I had a pretty good pork chile verde there a while ago and the carne asada tacos are tasty. The Mojito I had was too sweet for my taste so I usually stick to beer. Though in the Epicenter, it's not too bad since it's on the corner.

                      1. re: HungryDonkey

                        "Epicenter" has become such a dirty word in Charlotte. I can't think of a more loathed place. Haha.

                        That being said, it is not all bad all the time.

                        1. re: ickymettle

                          Shall we assume that is you mean "Monday lunchtime?"