"Mexican tapas in the heart of Dalston..."Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
A quick scan of your favourite listings section – allinlondon, obviously – and you’ll see that the name Viva is almost as ubiquitous in the restaurant world as The Red Lion is in the pub world. But don’t let your familiarity with a name put you off – this is like no Viva we’ve ever seen. In fact, there hardly even seemed to be a sign to even see the name. Ah, Dalston…
Located at 2, Stoke Newington Road, Viva has a handy little space on right on a corner, so although there may not be a sign as such, windows wall it in and you can see what’s going on inside. Mexican restaurants in Dalston are a welcome sight, especially when there’s as much importance placed on the drinks as on the food. It is named Viva! Tapas and Bebidas after all.
The interior is cosy (although if you prefer your own space, perhaps read cramped) the décor is of that modern Dalston style – effortlessly achieved chic from the addition of bits and bobs and that all-important dim lighting. There is also music, played at a volume loud enough to remind you that while this place serves food and could reasonably be called a restaurant, it’s just as much a bar.
But you don’t just come here to hang out, you come to eat. We order the nachos, which are without a doubt some of the best we’ve eaten. They come in an oval bowl (not piled on a huge plate), with cool tomato, coriander, guacamole, cheese and jalapenos and possibly some other secret ingredient we don’t know about. Order them. Next up it’s taquitos. Lightly crisped cases of juicy pork and beef that are enough to have us wishing we’d doubled, no trebled, up on them. At £8.50 for four, sharing is the way to go. Alongside the taquitos we have a chorizo stew, which is very much a simple chorizo stew – tasty, but what you might expect from stewing a heap of chorizo together in a rich sauce. Finally we ordered the giant Dutch mushroom, which is filled with rocket, cashew nuts and more mushroom. One of the better tapas dishes that this reviewer has ever eaten. Quesadillas are available too but the waiter did us a favour and forgot to bring them. It’s easy to get greedy here.
The importance of the drinks was a boast and so we dived into the cocktail menu. While the grand margarita was a fine accompaniment to the nachos, the old fashioned that came next was fairly disappointing. At £7.00 you don’t expect crystal clear ice and premium liquor but the mix was well on the watery side. House beer is Pacifico and there are a range of Mexican lagers beyond.
Service was excellent – despite missing quesadillas – and a meal for four with plenty of dishes, beers and cocktails was a good value £30.00 a head. Vive le Viva.
T.A.O reviewed Viva! Tapas & Bebidas on Tue 26 Mar 2013