Home » Restaurant Review » La Vida Cantina Takes off where El Corazon Failed
La Vida Cantina Takes off where El Corazon Failed
La Vida Cantina Tostaditas de Ahi 2

La Vida Cantina Takes off where El Corazon Failed

Review of La Vida Cantina at The Triangle in Costa Mesa

La Vida Cantina at the Triangle in Costa Mesa

La Vida Cantina at the Triangle in Costa Mesa

Where El Corazon Failed, La Vida Cantina Takes off

La Vida Cantina pleasantly surprised me with great food, service, and a fun atmosphere. La Vida Cantina is a great fit for the Triangle and the missing puzzle piece for it’s revitalization. The previous occupants of this space, El Corazon, failed miserably both in terms of food and service. There were grumblings that high-end Mexican cuisine was not a good fit for this space, although La Vida Cantina proves this wrong.

La Vida Cantina Patio

La Vida Cantina Patio

La Vida cantina is a completely new restaurant, not a reboot. The new owners stepped in and completely remodeled the location to include a very large patio with large palapas, heat lamps and fire pits.  The restaurant still has a smaller dining room, although for the Southern California lifestyle, al fresca dining is the way to go.

I really liked the décor of the interior and exterior. The design borrowed from traditional Mexican folk art, Mexican pop-art and a healthy dose of California casual.  I really like the massive fireplace with the Dios de Los Muertos skulls.

 

La Vida Cantina Interior

La Vida Cantina Interior

Food at La Vida Cantina

The basic menu at La Vida Cantina is what I would characterize as modern Mexican cuisine. Although all the dishes have very traditional elements, the modern spin on the dishes is apparent. There is an obvious Calficornication of the dishes, although the dishes still remind me of my Grandma’s preparations.  

La Vida Cantina Chips and Salsa

La Vida Cantina Chips and Salsa

Tostaditas de Ahi

This dish is essentially mini ahi tostadas, although they eat like a fusion dish.  The dish is constructed with a crispy mini tostada shell topped with creamy chipotle sauce, shredded cabbage, and what tasted like a poke made with raw ahi tuna, mango, cilantro and Serrano peppers. 

La Vida Cantina Tostaditas de Ahi

La Vida Cantina Tostaditas de Ahi

Each tostada is topped with avocado slices.  I really like the complex flavor layers of sweet, spicy, and smoky in each bite. The tostaditas are refreshing and perfect for an appetizer for light meal.

Enchiladas del Mar

This dish was a good value for the seafood provided. The enchiladas were plump with crab and shrimp, providing plenty of shellfish in every bite. The enchiladas are topped poblano sauce, avocado, cotija, and artistically drizzled cream.

La Vida Cantina Enchiladas del Mar

La Vida Cantina Enchiladas del Mar

The dish is served with white rice and black beans. The Langoustine meat chunks were beautifully accented by the semi-sweet poblano sauce which provided sweetness, acidity and a very low level of sizzle.   $20

La Vida Cantina Crab Meat

La Vida Cantina fresh shucked crab meat from the enchiladas

Quesadilla de Langosta

The quesadilla was impressive. It is stuffed with cheese and big chunks of Main lobster, which are sauteed with onions, garlic, mushrooms, poblano peppers and white wine. The quesadilla is garnished with chipotle cream, cotija, and cream.  Each bite had chunks of lobster and the poblano peppers added the perfect amount of sweet and sizzle to the dish. This dish is a wonderful choice. 

La Vida Cantina Quesodilla de Langosta

La Vida Cantina Quesodilla de Langosta

Other Main Courses

Aside from the seafood enchiladas that we ordered, there are also plenty of classic dishes like fajitas, fish tacos, sopas, tacos and soups. I was pretty impressed by what we ordered, so I expect the rest of the dishes will be excellent.  Prices range from $11-20, which are good prices for the food.

La Vida Cantina Cocktails

The cocktails at La Vida Cantina is worth the visit alone; although, if you are not careful you can exceed the cost of the food  by ordering too many cocktails. With that said, they are worth the price tag of $12 each.

Blackberry Jalapeno Margarita

This margarita is sweet and spicy, just like me. It is made with Don Julio Reposado Tequila, fresh blackberries, jalapenos, agave nectar and lime juice. I like the play between aromatic sweet from the berries and bit from the jalapeno. This is a very well balanced margarita. $12

La Vida Cantina Blackberry Jalapeno Margarita

La Vida Cantina Blackberry Jalapeno Margarita

Blueberry Margarita

Although this is a sweeter margarita, it is balanced. With that said, it was not my favorite of the cocktails we ordered. My wife really enjoyed it, although she likes this type of drink. It is made with Patron Silver, agave nectar, fresh blueberries, basil and lime juice. $12

La Vida Cantina Blueberry Margarita

La Vida Cantina Blueberry Margarita

The Spa Margarita

This Margarita sounded refreshing, so it was perfect for the warm evening. Just like any good spa water, it is made with lots of mint and cucumber. In addition, it has Tres Sietes tequila, Herradura agave nectar, lime juice.  $12

La Vida Cantina The Spa Margarita

La Vida Cantina The Spa Margarita

 

Desserts at La Vida Cantina

Overall their dessert menu is relatively small; although the desserts that we tried were delicious.

Creamy Berry Crunch

This is essentially a berry sundae, made with vanilla bean ice cream and served in a crispy cinnamon tortilla bowl. The mixed berry coulis  is poured on top and garnished with whipped cream.  Overall, this is a good dessert for $5.

La Vida Cantina Creamy Berry Crunch

La Vida Cantina Creamy Berry Crunch

Churros

The Churros are house made and served with a house made caramel. After my first bite, I as excited and let slip out, “Wow that was the best churro I ever tasted.” I am not sure if it is the best churro I ever tasted, although my reaction was genuine, it is a dam good homemade churro. The exterior was very crispy and the interior is soft and creamy.

 

La Vida Cantina Churros

La Vida Cantina Churros

 

La Vida Cantina Churros cut open

La Vida Cantina Churros cut open

It had a balance of sweetness and a hint of salt in the flavor profile. It is served with a house made caramel sauce that added another dimension of sweet and salty. 

My Final Thoughts about La Vida Cantina

If you are searching for the best and most authentic Mexican food ever, perhaps you should visit Downtown Santa Ana. If you are looking for very good modern Mexican food served in a fun upbeat environment, then definitely hit up La Vida Cantina. I definitely recommend La Vida Cantina. I really liked our attentive service, the ambiance and especially the food. La Vida Cantina permanently exorcised the ghosts of El Corazon from this location. Judging by the Newport crowd filling up the patio, the local community loves it as well.

La Vida Cantina Address

1870 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

http://lavidacantina.com/

Phone: 949.612.2349

La Vida Cantina Palapa

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

19 comments

  1. I am so hungry right now and that food looks amazing. I wish I could go there!

  2. Oh man all this food looks amazing. Great post and now my stomach is rumbling. Great stuff Tom!

  3. Bradley Finnearty

    Yet another of your reviews that makes me want to move to where I can visit these restaurants. I love Mexican food and this looks great.

  4. Wow! Just looking at the pictures make me pretty hungry! Not only does the food look great but so does the decor.

  5. I am getting so hungry just looking at these photos! I miss really good Mexican food from my hometown of Tucson. And I would DIE for a churro right now.

  6. I would want to try all of it but the La Vida Cantina Tostaditas de Ahi look awesome!! If I am every there will def have to check it out!

  7. Thanks for this review. Sounds like a great place to go with the hubs. I would love a night out at an atmosphere like this with good food. Thanks for the post!

  8. Sounds like a fun place to go out and have a meal with your friends or family! And the food is absolutely to drool for!

  9. That sounds like a fantastic place! Absolutely love the sound of Blackberry jalapeno margarita, yum!

  10. Jessica Beal Harlow

    The food looks amazing! There is so much to be said for presentation when it comes to food! I’m so yearning for Mexican now!

  11. Oh boy I loveeeee food and this review got me hungry! Especially Mexican food, don’t get me wrong love Korean food cuz my mom korean but I love cheese. Great place from what you’ve experienced :)) lovely going on the joinery with you

  12. Wow! Both food and the place itself looks fab!

  13. Chips and Salsa is perfectly made. I judge the restaurant through dishes and this one is perfect!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*