Friday, November 25, 2011

Vivo on 620

Hubby: "Where are we going for dinner?"
Me: "Vivo. We have a coupon."
Hubby: "Where's that?"
Me: "You know. Vivo. On 620. By the karaoke chicken place. We've been there before. You liked it."
Hubby still looked puzzled. 
Me: "The place with the booby pictures. The wall of booby pictures. The booby wall."
Hubby: "Oh yeah. They don't have nipples, which is weird."

So, with that sorted out, we went to Vivo on 620. We've been to the original Vivo on Manor Road and it also has booby pictures, but we sat on the beautiful patio at that one. The Vivo on 620 has a patio as well, and they've done their best with the potted plants to make it lush, but it still overlooks a parking lot. And we aren't really patio people anyway, most of the time. 

This is kind of a hard place to describe. It has a weird loungy feel to it, that my Mom would likely describe as "swanky". She wouldn't be wrong, but this is Austin. So the first time we were in said swanky lounge, crammed into a half-moon booth probably meant to be romantic, but we're an old married couple, and how romantic is it to have to slide all the way around in a booth to sit by each other? Anyway, the first time we went to Vivo, there was a loud, large table with a newborn, the new parents, and the in-laws. One of the grandmothers, probably liberated by the presence of booby pictures and booze, was going on and on about breastfeeding her younger son, presumably the very embarrassed-looking college-aged kid at the table who looked like he was plotting how to skulk out unnoticed. But, not before he told a story about his brother (the new father) and an old girlfriend (not the current wife and new mother). So, honestly, as an old married couple with no news of the day to share, we sat at in the half moon looking out onto the table at which this Lifetime drama was unfolding. Most fun we've had in a long time. I'm sorry that same table of people won't be if you go. 

On our most recent visit, we were seated at a table instead of a half-moon booth, which was more comfortable both socially and physically. There were quite  a lot of "girl's night out" tables. Middle-aged "girls".  (Hey, I'm one of them, so I'm not complaining. But, seriously, we're really annoying when we get a "girls night out", aren't we?) I didn't see any families this time, because really, you can't have the "booby wall" conversation with youngsters, can you? Oh, and they play some club-like trance music, but it sounds far away, like the real lounge is through a secret door. 

The food is really delicious. I wish the place were more down to earth, and we'd probably eat there all the time. It's not expensive, it's just not always the vibe we're looking for. The chips are always freshly fried and puffy and crisp. I actually love their salsa (and I rarely eat salsa). Theirs is the kind where everything is roasted to a dark brown, then pureed. It's got some heat, so I dip carefully. But, there is a depth of flavor from the roasting that I really enjoy. We also ordered queso, and I said "I know it's just Velveeta, but it's sooooooo good." Actually, I don't know that it is Velveeta, but it is a smooth creamy cheese with a dollop of something hot and smoky in the middle. Just try to stop eating it. I dare you. 

I ordered the chile enchiladas... yummy cheese enchiladas drowning in a pool of rich ancho chile gravy and smothered with more cheese. Why did I just use "drowning" and "smothered" in my food description? Foreshadowing? Will these enchiladas be the death of me? Maybe. The rich brown sauce is both familiar and unique to Vivo. It's familiar in that it reminds me of my Mom's brown gravy she makes with a pot roast. (Do they throw in some real beef stock and Kitchen Bouquet and love?) But, if you're thinking you don't want roast beef gravy on your enchiladas, these are punched up with the chile, so they still have the Tex Mex flavor you're expecting. And the cheese... oh, the cheese... Vivo takes just up to the bar where you might think it's too much cheese, but doesn't step over that line. (The line which is just shy of the cheese sticking to the roof of your mouth as you eat.) The tortillas are soft and seem to have "become one" with the cheese and the sauce. In a small way, the tortillas remind me a bit of pasta, like manicotti, when it's there holding stuff in, but has also absorbed the flavors around it. The rice and beans are also good at Vivo. They use brown rice, which I usually find pretty bland, but their rice is good and I like to eat it with the extra enchilada sauce. Their beans are particularly good here, but I can't for the life of me tell you why. Maybe they just season them better than most places. 

On this last visit, the service was interesting. They are pretty good about keeping the chip basket filled because they share that duty. Food comes out when expected and the staff is nice. But, this particular tattoo-sleeved waitress on this night, kept my husband's glass full at all times and even topped off his tea, while I sat with an empty glass she pretended not to notice. Not cool. If we're going to get bad service, it better be both of us. And normally, at the end of the meal both Vivo locations have a nice tradition of bringing the ladies of the table a rose. I didn't get a rose this time. Oh well. 

We ended the meal with flan, which was good, but not the greatest flan we've had. Maybe we were too full. Or maybe I had a bitter taste in my mouth from the waitress. 

Here's a link to Hubby's blog about Vivo. 

Yummy Chile Enchiladas. Notice how the cheese gets nice and browned on the top. I don't know why, but that single chip they put on each plate is always stale. 

Creamy queso with a dollop of smokiness. Sorry about the picture quality. I took it too quick before it got molested. 

Hubby's Emma's Plate with Puffy Taco and Enchiladas. 

The half-moon booths are all padded in black leather and each have a spotlighted pop art picture. I'm not sure what they're saying when they put you in a padded booth. 


The wall of nippleless boobies. 

Vivo Cocina Mexicana on Urbanspoon

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