Mexican food is certainly not a scarcity in Manhattan. We live by our #TacoTuesdays and love to dig tortilla chips into a massive bowl of guac at the drop of a hat. But in all honesty, there are a lot of crappy spots serving up mediocre tacos, so when I come across a restaurant that puts those to shame—I'm talking like how Reggie Miller did to the Knicks scoring eight points in the last nine seconds of a 1995 playoff game (that I was at by the way. Mad respect, Reggie, but I'm still holding a grudge)—I have to tell you all about it.
Vida Verde is a brand new bi-level Mexican restaurant that you have to check out. I had the opportunity to chat with their Executive Chef / Owner Hugo Orozco while shoveling mouthfuls of his perfectly spiced Seafood Ceviche into my face. I listened intently as he told me about what the name Vida Verde (translates to "the green life") means to the restaurant as a whole. While I was captivated in the moment, I'll give you the cliff notes here. They are an ingredient-driven restaurant which in this case doesn't just mean using seasonally fresh produce, this goes deeper than that. Here, they aim to use as much of each ingredient as possible. For example, rather than discard the rind from a juiced lime, that one lime's rind will go into several dishes like a hot sauce that, fyi, is way hot so proceed with caution if you get a little plastic syringe full of it on your table. It's pretty cool to hear about. If you have the opportunity to meet Chef Hugo, ask him about more about it.
The dishes themselves are both thoughtfully plated and expertly put together. If for no other reason, you have to go for their Loaded Guacamole, take a photo, post it to Instagram and in turn break Instagram with it. Loaded with grilled shrimp, pork rind, crudites, potato chips, shishito peppers, and esquites, not only is it crazy fun to look at, but it's super duper flavorful, texturally fun for the mouthfeel and, of course, delicious. There is not one weak dish on the menu. The Molote Chicken Skewers made with fried chicken and plated with dollops of their yummy chocolaty homemade mole sauce was next level. It is a great take on fried chicken. The outside is perfectly crisp and the inside is filled with tender white meat chicken. It's awesome. The thoughtfulness extends itself to all of the restaurant's menus.
As I sat there "tasting" their drinks at one o'clock on a Thursday afternoon, I knew they had to be good because I was going back for more even though I was drinking alone. I've been there only once and yet I'm already obsessed with the idea of going back for another one of their Tequila Beetset cocktails. It has a beautiful orange-red ombre coloring and tastes healthy until you start noticing the tequila. Oh man, it was a good Thirsty Thursday. When you go, plan on getting a minimum of two cocktails because you also need to try the Viva La Frida frozen cocktail. Who wants to leave a Mexican restaurant sober anyway. That would be missing the point.
Last tip, stick around for their Tres Leches. It's magical! You'll see.