Viva Taqueria

Ithaca is known for its restaurants, including world-famous vegetarian restaurant Moosewood. The downtown area has lines out the door and two-hour-long waits for tapas, burgers, and pasta.

Source: vivataqueria.com

Source: vivataqueria.com

One of these institutions is Viva Taqueria, right on the corner of the Commons. It’s one of the local favorites for sit-down dinners and takeout of burritos, enchiladas, and tacos.

“I haven’t been to Viva” is met with gasps of surprise and horror. “I don’t like Viva” is a phrase that can ruin a friendship here. That’s how seriously the students from Ithaca College and Cornell University take Viva.

But I don’t like Viva. Mostly it’s because it doesn’t live up to the hype. The service isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. The wait is long because it’s a popular, centrally-located restaurant. And the food isn’t particularly authentic.

dos salsasI’ll admit I’m a bit of a Mexican food snob–being from the West Coast will do that to you–and I find Viva subpar. No pan dulce, no horchata, and the menu is entirely in English (they even sell Caesar salad–completely unacceptable). It’s nitpicky, but to me that’s what makes a “taqueria,” not just selling tacos.

I’ve fallen victim to the “how could anyone not love Viva?” gasp, but I don’t really mind. Other people can continue to wait an hour for a table of mediocre Mexican-ish food, and I’ll go to Chipotle. It doesn’t really live up to the hype either (gasp), but at least nobody’s pretending to be authentic.


Adapted from “I’m a Snob & I’m Okay With It,” published October 8, 2014. 

This post is part of my April A to Z Challenge. For more All Things College posts, click here 

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