Newest downtown eatery offers unique flavors to spice up your life
The Short Course:
Kid-friendly: Maybe, depends on your child!
To avoid wait: Visit during an off-peak time.
Noise level: Average.
Bathroom amenities: Clean with changing tables in both restrooms.
High chairs? Yes.
Kids’ menu? Free cheese quesadilla for kids!
Anything healthy for kids? All the food is fresh so if your child has an adventurous palate, there’s definitely something for him or her!
Food allergy concerns? Speak with your server about specific allergy concerns. Fresh ingredients and lots of allergy friendly options!
We visited Vivir Modern Mexican on (you guessed it!) Taco Tuesday early in the evening. Colorful murals, playful décor and mismatched seating gave off a fun, eclectic vibe. To our right sat a spacious waiting area with a plush velvet couch, coffee table and vibrant books about Mexico. A faux living wall added lush greenery along one side while the vibrant chairs added contrast to the brick and wood. The restaurant offered varied seating, including hi-top tables and bench seating.
Fun atmosphere, festive flavors
We settled into a snug four-top table in the front of the restaurant and looked over the menus. Unusual ingredients and words jumped off the page. “Socials” are appetizers, including familiar favorites like queso fundido and chips and salsa plus more unique options like grilled avocado. Tacos were listed in two sections— “Meaty Tacos” and “Veggie Tacos” – all available with five different tortillas including soft blue corn, Bibb lettuce, and a seasonal option.
Not a fan of tacos? All tacos may be ordered as large or mini rice bowls. There are also salad and soup options, a variety of side dishes and desserts. Symbols designate the vegetarian, gluten-free and spicy menu items. Tortillas and chips are made in-house and Vivir sources many ingredients locally. In other words, the food is fresh, unique, and guilt-free!
With three hungry kids, we were disappointed initially that chips and salsa were not brought to the table like other Mexican restaurants. Being as the chips are made at the restaurant, it’s understandable. Plus, no food waste! A win-win. So to assuage the starving children, we quickly ordered chips and salsa, grilled avocado, Mexican caprese and the queso fundido.
The dishes arrived within a few minutes with brilliant colors, fresh ingredients and beautiful presentations. Three salsas accompanied the chips – a green salsa, red salsa and an incredibly spicy, chunkier version. The flavors were vibrant and delicious. The grilled avocado featured a bright cilantro flavor that accented the creamy avocado perfectly. The queso fundido arrived in a mini cast iron skillet. The chorizo was unseasoned and the cheese was perfectly gooey. Served with tortillas, the kids devoured it while my husband, Jeremy, and I enjoyed dressing it up with salsas and some of the smoky, spicy salt that sits at each table. Jeremy and I also sipped a house Premo Margarita and a Sunset Margarita, both oth delicious and freshly made. I particularly loved that Jeremy’s was served in a clay cup!
Fresh flavors that challenge and delight
For dinner, the girls ordered the three cheese quesadilla (aka “Kidsa-dilla”) while our more adventurous 9-year-old, Leland, ordered the carne asada rice bowl while Jeremy opted for the Cochinita Pibil Bowl (grilled pork shoulder with pickled onions). Both were served with bite-size pieces of meat and sprinkles of cotija cheese atop cilantro rice.
Leland’s featured an earthy flavor that brought back memories of the rice and beans I frequently ate during a volunteer trip to Costa Rica. Jeremy’s shredded pork had a barbeque flavor. Unlike most other Mexican restaurants, Vivir served these dishes with minimal cheese and no sauces. The fresh ingredients offered all the necessary flavor without the need to rely on heavy ingredients like sour cream or shredded cheese.
To further explore Vivir’s flavors, Jeremy also ordered a chorizo taco and mole, a dark brown sauce made with chili peppers and chocolate. It’s one of those flavors people seem to either love or hate! Jeremy reported that the chorizo taco offered a meaty flavor which focused on the pork rather than the sauces. For my meal, I chose two tacos – “The Seitan One” and “The Papas Con Rajas One.” Both vegetarian options, I ordered one on a flour tortilla and the other with a blue corn tortilla. The seitan taco included roasted beets, walnuts and house-made crema. The light, earthy and slightly sweet flavors were a delightful contrast. I particularly enjoyed the second taco featuring roasted poblano peppers, diced potatoes, onions and cotija cheese. The sharp onion-y flavor perfectly complemented the creaminess of the cheese and potatoes.
Not surprisingly, by this point our bellies were stuffed. No churros for us!
As the night wore on, Vivir filled up with a varied crowd. The vibrant atmosphere matched the playful flavors served by Vivir’s dynamic kitchen team. Vivir – which translates to live, exist, and breathe – offers Findlay residents the opportunity to do just that: live fully present and breathe in the beautiful colors, flavors, and spirit of Mexico.
119 E. Crawford St. | 567-271-0174
“Vivir Modern Mexican” on Facebook
Open daily: 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm