Redondo Beach’s Mexican cuisine gets a makeover – Daily Breeze

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This won’t delight those working in the kitchens of our many more upmarket Mexican restaurants – but like many regulars, I’ll go for a drink first, then consider the food a necessity to help soak up the margaritas. and inspire me. have more.

When I went to the legendary El Cholo in Mid-City, I brought a group of affable drinkers, so we could order our margaritas from the pitcher. At the recently opened Agave Azul Cantina in Hermosa Beach, one menu is for food, the other, equally large, is for drinks. At the recently opened Esperanza Cocina de la Playa, the drinks menu comes in a separate, beautifully bound menu book with plenty of tempting libation pages.

And at the just as recently opened Vida Modern Taqueria on groovy Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach, there are also two menus. One is filled with appetizers, salads and bowls, ceviche and “a la carte tacos”. All good. All tasty. It’s all very fun.

But first, it’s time to bend an elbow. Which is done with abandon by the locals packing the bar and the tables, inside and out.

And with what to quench his thirst? Vida doesn’t have a hard liquor license – at least not yet; they say they are waiting for it to pass. So, in the meantime, rather than making their “specialty cocktails” with full-strength tequila, they’re made with Sabe Alternative Tequila. (Ditto for vodka-based drinks.) Which, in the case of tequila, is tequila-flavored sake. It still contains a lot of alcohol; it’s not some kind of pseudo alcohol-free cocktail. Not quite as much.

There are eight specialty cocktails. And several of them come with many stories. For example, in the case of El Pistolero – a mixture of Sabe, hibiscus, lime juice and cranberry/chilli syrup – is named after a man called El Fusilado who escaped from a Mexican firing squad. The Dos Santos – which combines vermouth, triple sec and syrup “from the orchard” with lemon and lime, celery, apple and cucumber – is based on a cocktail from the 1700s called Cobbler, which is drank on Sunday.

It’s all, in a way, in a way, almost interesting. Not that I go to a bar for a history lesson. Indeed, does anyone?

  • Vida Modern Taqueria offers an outdoor dining area with heaters – important at this time of year. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • There is indoor dining at Vida Modern Taqueria. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • Vida Modern Taqueria has a good variety of tacos – 17 in all – that are both familiar and new wave. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

In addition to cocktails, there are two sangrias, three micheladas, five alcoholic seltzers, 10 draft beers, 10 bottled beers, three canned beers, and a handful of wines. Like I said, a place to drink first. And then, pay attention to the food. Which is worth paying attention to.

As a “taqueria,” Vida Modern lives up to its name, with 17 tacos on the menu, which could set a new SoCal record. Many are familiar. But even the most familiar ones come with little twists that pay homage to the creativity of the kitchen. Carne asada is filled with extremely tender beer-marinated flank steak. (Marinate the beef in beer – with yourself!) Pork carnitas are braised in cinnamon, topped with an apricot-pepper habanero salsa. Pork al pastor is served with a slice of grilled pineapple. This comes from the tacos listed under “Turf”.

Next are the tacos under “Surf” – wild Alaskan cod, Pacific red snapper, wild Mexican white shrimp. Under “Vegetables” we have roasted mushrooms, cauliflower tempura, cactus nopales tempura, and seasoned, chopped beyond beef…beef. (Is it really a vegetable? Even if it’s made of vegetables, pretending to be meat? That’s a discussion for those who are much more academic than me.)

The last section is titled “Tacos for Vida”. Which means… well, I don’t really know what. There’s mole chicken, grilled New York cut steak, lobster tail, and grilled octopus. They all cost more than anything in the other sections. So the title has to mean… something.

On the other hand, there are entrees like guacamole and nachos. With ahi tuna tacos and crispy beef tacos. Who apparently got lost on the way to the taco side of the menu. There are three ceviche – one made with shrimp, another with scallops, the third with octopus.

There is a Caesar salad and a chopped salad, both with many add-ons available. Add-ons that multiply in both bowls — again, one surfs, the other turfs.

There is panna cotta and there are churros for dessert. But I guess the cocktails outweigh the desserts. We started drinking. So why not stop there?

Merrill Shindler is a freelance food critic based in Los Angeles. Email [email protected]

Vida Modern Taqueria

  • Evaluation: 3 stars
  • Address: 1723 S Catalina Ave, Redondo Beach
  • Information: 310-430-7787, http://eatdrinkvida.com
  • Food: Modern Mexican with tacos and more
  • When: Lunch, Friday to Sunday; dinner, everyday
  • Details: A star in the world of South Bay’s newly opened hip Mexican restaurants, with familiar and new wave tacos, plus a menu of many other dishes and many more cocktails.
  • Prices: About $25 per person
  • Suggested dishes: 17 Tacos ($6-$14), 9 Appetizers ($11.50-$19), 3 Ceviche ($18), 2 Salads ($11-$18), 2 Bowls ($12-$21)
  • Credit card: CM, V
  • What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth the trip from anywhere!), 3 (Most excellent, if not outstanding. Worth the trip from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A great place to go for a meal. Worth the trip from anywhere in the neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and it’s nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Honestly not worth it to describe.)
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