Saturday, May 9, 2009
Viva Mexican Grill
I finally tried the new Viva Mexican Grill, located in South Beach Plaza (MP 11 on the Bypass) next door to the addictive Dunkin' Donuts in Nags Head.
One of my readers left comments on his/her experience on a prior post. Those comments were roughly... "not as good as Chipotle about equal to Moe's Southwest Grill", pricey and would have larger servings and table service at La Fogota".
I agree, but only to a small extent. For those unfamiliar with Chipotle and Moe's, these are higher end fast food Tex-Mex fare that are far superior to Taco Bell. Both are pricier than the "Bell", but the food is awesome and well worth the extra expense. My first Chipotle experience was at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and my first Moe's was in Virginia Beach. Both chains have now moved into Tidewater, with locations in Va. Beach and Chesapeake.
Viva's is laid out in the same fashion as the above two chains. You enter a cafeteria style line, and choose combinations of ingredients to build either a burrito or a taco (hard or soft). You start with the bread, then pick your sides (black beans/rice, etc), then build your main course. You can choose from chicken or steak (no ground beef, and sadly, no pork like Chipotle's), add veggies, sour cream, and then pick from five kinds of salsa. All are good, but beware--the hot is HOT!
Chips are extra, and cost $1.99, but large enough for two. I would suggest they offer a smaller order of chips for those dining alone, and would also add to that a combo offering.
I had the steak taco's with the verde (green chili's) salsa and lots of extra cillantro. Three tacos ran $6.29, a bit pricey, but in my opinion, well worth the cost given the taste. Add the tortilla chips and coke, and the lunch came to about $11, about average for non-franchised restaurants. I haven't tried a burrito yet, but they look smaller than Chipotle's.
My opinion is that I'll eat here often, probably never returning to Taco Bell. The style is different than La Fogota; more east coast Mexican with Cancun-style pico de gallo and salsa with real tomatoes rather than tomato paste. The steak in the taco was excellent, much better than greasy ground beef found elsewhere. The owners are sisters who hail from Mexico, so the food is authentic.
My vote-- a tad pricey, not as awesome as Chipotle's, but a great alternative to Taco Bell, and a different lunch experience than La Fogota (which I love and dine at almost every Friday). Go there and give them a try.