Are the Mexican food options at Stern not satisfying you anymore? Are you yearning for some delicious guacamole and chips? Look no further than Vive Sol, located at 2020 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA. Full disclosure: I have a car so a few of these restaurants that I recommend may be a bit far away for those who only have access to the Marguerite. However, Vive Sol is so tasty that it is worth the effort to go sign up for a Wheelz or ZipCar account.
Now onto the actual restaurant.
The Space: First thing you need to know: this place is small. If you are trying to come here between 6-8 on any weeknight, save yourself some boredom and bring a book or a particularly lively conversation partner. Odds are you will be waiting anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. However, if you can push your way through to the bar area, you can entertain yourself by looking at the décor. It is a perfectly charming little restaurant, with wooden beam ceilings and multi-colored lanterns everywhere you look. It looks like the perfect combination of Puebla, Mexico and Anthropologie. As for the sound, it is always pretty loud, but not so terrible that you can’t hear the conversation of the person across from you. If you are a low talker, you may need to assert yourself a bit but hey it’s all worth it.
The Service: Perfect. They refill your drink (and more importantly, your chips and salsa) promptly and are extremely nice at the same time.
The Food: Finally the important stuff. Even though I am sometimes a picky eater, I love almost everything on this menu. And for those who aren’t picky eaters, like my co-writer Keshav, then you will definitely love everything on this menu. For appetizers, they have delicious guacamole (though if you are ordering something on the menu that includes guacamole, this is a pricey start to the meal). The fried calamari is quite nice as well—it is served with fresh cilantro and a spicy salsa that balances the flavors perfectly. One word of warning: don’t get the Coctelde Cameron. The shrimp are small and bland, which is very abnormal in an otherwise delicious menu.
For entrees: It’s a large menu, and you can’t really go wrong, but I will tell you my and my date’s favorite entrees. I enjoy the Burrito de Carne Asada, which is filled with delicious peppers and grilled onions along with the meat and other items. Ask for melted cheese on the top, mix with the rice and beans to the side, and enjoy! My date got the Sabana Invierno, which is thin sliced pieces of grilled steak on top of a bed of beans, sliced chorizo, and a blanket of melted cheese. Based on how empty his plate was after the meal (and they give substantial portions) I would say it was good. In addition, the Camarones al Chipotle, or shrimp with chipotle spices, is also a very good choice. However, if you aren’t a fan of spice, I would advise a different option—I went through about six glasses of water during that meal.
The Price: The appetizers range from $7-10 while the entrees range from $12-18. It’s a little pricey, but then again most things in Palo Alto are and most restaurants are not this good.
Lunch Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 11am – 2pm
Dinner Hours of Operation: Sunday – Thursday 5pm – 9pm
Weekend Dinner Hours of Operation: Friday and Saturday 5pm – 9:30pm
Overall, this restaurant is fabulous and I would definitely recommend giving it a try (and then going there again and again). For best results, go before six on weekends or before seven during the week—a place this good always has customers out the door! Also, a word of caution: Vive Sol as a sister restaurant on California Ave. that is called Palo Alto Sol. While it too is quite good, the location in Mountain View simply blows it out of the water in terms of food deliciousness. Not exactly sure why, but trust me on this one.
Come back next week for another review! I promise to try to review something a bit closer to campus.