La Vida Cantina, Portsmouth NH

La Vida Cantina bills itself as a “modern” Mexican restaurant, with pride in sourcing the best locally grown ingredients.  Fill a taco with some of that pride and you’ve got a winner on your hands.  LVC’s menu is short but sweet and keeps us drooling for more.

Our Selections

T-Dogerosa: I can’t believe this place was once a Friendly’s Restaurant. For the record I did not like the food at Friendly’s. In contrast the food at LVC is delectable. I had the pleasure of sampling the ceviche, sides of street corn, sweet potato fries and most importantly 3 tacos: one carnitas, 1 chicken, and 1 blue corn shrimp. The tacos were the highlight. Fantastic meats, fresh accoutrements, and a wonderful assortment of flavors in each.  The fries were out of this world but I sadly found out after eating one they were not gluten free. I therefore forced myself to eat just two more. The only item that was less than perfect was ceviche which was 10% too exotic due to the addition of grapefruit. However the remaining ingredients were wonderful. Vida does what it does extremely well and for me it gets 4 paws.

Petite Filet: I for one used to dig Friendly’s breakfast and the 8 page menu, and still can’t leave the ice cream alone. That being said I can’t complain with the change in real estate. Sticking with just the simple standard starter of chips and salsa worked for me, because I believe one measure of a great mexican/Mexican inspired restaurant is the salsa. Not too chunky, not too watery, bursting with flavor. Their mild salsa hit my mark and had me eating twice the number of chips I needed to primary because that acted as a carrier for the salsa. The 3 assorted tacos were my special main event, 1 carnitas, 1 blue corn shrimp and the nightly special with beef. While all three were quickly consumed, the shrimp was a clear winner. Simple ingredients like slaw and blue corn were raised up in a concoction of goodness that had me caring less about the content than the overall mix of flavors. Vida scores points for creativity and unique use of ingredients and for me gets 3.5 paws. The .5 deduction was for pent up excitement over the special taco that wasn’t as special as the standard menu fare. But please, don’t stop trying to tempt me.

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