Mi Vida Su Vida Wharf Vida DC
I tend to enjoy my tacos from the back of a truck on a dusty road far from any government food inspectors, but then again, here we are at The Wharf in Washington, DC where things are a bit more upscale. Fortunately, what you gain in vibrant decor and cozy surroundings at Mi Vida includes no loss of authenticity in its food and flavor.
I’ve been to Mi Vida several times (when you live at The Wharf it’s what happens) and enjoyed lunch, brunch, dinner and late night snacks. I’ve never been disappointed – well, except with myself for not having a solid ordering strategy. Ordering at Mi Vida is a concentration in strategy…one must not overdo it early and be too full for the main course(s).
From the moment you enter Mi Vida you realize it is a special place. The attention to design and decorative detail are unmistakable. Directly behind the host stand is a massive Arbo de la Vida (tree of life). It’s colorful flowers and long branches stretch up and out as if providing comfort for all.
There are three floors and several eating areas at Mi Vida. The ground floor has a bar, indoor and outdoor seating. On the way to the third floor is a nook consisting of about twenty tables, which could also be used for a private dining area. On the top floor is a much larger bar area, two dining rooms, and a small outdoor dining area.
Getting down to business, the margaritas are spot on. The De La Casa Margarita with mezcal is my go to starter, and often repeated several times. There is however, an impressive list of tequilas and mezcals from which to choose. Likewise, the other cocktails should not be overlooked.
In a world that has gone guacamole crazy, Mi Vida’s guac gets your attention. Where Mi Vida strays from the traditional is the optional add on to the guac of blue cheese, grapes and smoked almonds. I must admit, it does make for an interesting combo. Here’s a tip you’ll only get here, ask for the habanero sauce, it’s off menu, and brings serious heat. Keep it around for all the dishes.
A must order starter is the Tacos Dorados. This dish comes with two deep fried chicken tacos, one covered in pasilla de Oaxaca salsa, the other covered in tomatillo-serrano salsa. So many things happen when you bite into it. First is the crunch of the fried taco, then the chicken, and then bursting flavors of salsa. Here’s the tip: while you’d like to have both to yourself, everyone else is going to want a bite so just get multiple orders for the table. Everyone is happy.
Other starter highlights include the queso fundido and spicy chicken wings. The fundido is shareable and is made with chorizo, cheeses, salsa verde and tortillas. The Alitas Adobadas wings are rubbed with adobo and served with an avocado mousse dip. The ceviches are very nice. My favorite is the ceviche de tiritas, which includes Hamachi, Jalapeño, Red Onion, Toasted Coconut. Remember, don’t blow your meal strategy yet.
On to the entrees. There are three I’m going to mention because you don’t have all day to read this review. The Enchiladas de mole negro has braised brisket covered in a mole, black as ink. It’s hearty and messy and memorable. The enchiladas suizas is your more traditional enchiladas but the green chili sauce comes with very good heat.
The carne asada is special. The grilled skirt steak is fantastic and is joined by a mushroom cream sauce and roasted poblanos. This combination of flavors is fantastic and ends with me using a remaining tortilla to wipe the plate. If you keep to a sound ordering strategy, then you will fully enjoy and consume this meal.
As for sides, the esquites (roasted corn, chile de arbol mayo, cotija) are mandatory. Also, Ana’s white rice and refried black beans are excellent.
At this point, if you are unbuckling your belt, then congratulations, you’ve done well my friend. Oh, but dessert. I’ll make it easy, get an order of the best churros con chocolate you have ever had and call it a night. You’re welcome.