Mexican cuisine at Redondo Beach gets a makeover – Daily Breeze

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It won’t please those who work in the kitchens of our many more upscale Mexican restaurants – but like many regulars, I go for a drink first and foremost, and then I consider food a necessity to soak up the needs. margaritas and inspire me. have more.

When I went to the legendary El Cholo in Mid-City, I would bring a group of affable drinkers, so we could order our margaritas from the pitcher. At the recently opened Agave Azul Cantina in Hermosa Beach, one menu is for food, the other, equally large, is for drinks. At the newly opened Esperanza Cocina de la Playa, the drink menu is presented in a separate, beautifully bound menu book with many pages of mouthwatering libations.

And at all as newly opened Modern Taqueria Vida on groovy Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach, there are also two menus. One is filled with starters, salads and bowls, ceviche and “a la carte tacos”. All good. All tasty. Everything is great fun.

But first, it’s time to bend an elbow. Which is done with abandon by the locals who pack the bar and tables, both inside and out.

And with what to quench his thirst? Vida doesn’t have a hard liquor license – at least not yet; they say they are waiting for it to pass. So, in the meantime, rather than making their “specialty cocktails” with tequila at full strength, they are made with alternative tequila Sabe. (The same goes with vodka-based drinks.) Which, in the case of tequila, is tequila-flavored sake. There is still a lot of alcohol in it; it’s not some kind of non-alcoholic cocktail. Not quite so much.

There are eight specialty cocktails. And many of them have a long history. For example, in the case of El Pistolero – a mixture of Sabe, hibiscus, lime juice, and cranberry / chile syrup – is named after a man called El Fusilado who escaped from ‘a Mexican firing squad. Dos Santos – which combines vermouth, triple sec and “orchard” syrup with lemon and lime, celery, apple and cucumber – is based on a 1700s cocktail called Cobbler, which was drank on Sunday.

It’s all sort of, in a way, almost interesting. Not that I’m going to a bar for a history class. Indeed, does anyone?

  • Vida Modern Taqueria offers an outdoor dining area with heaters, which is important at this time of year. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • There is an indoor dining area at Vida Modern Taqueria. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • Vida Modern Taqueria has a good variety of tacos – 17 in all – that are both familiar and new wave. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

In addition to the cocktails, there are two sangrias, three micheladas, five alcoholic seltzes, 10 draft beers, 10 bottled beers, three canned beers – and a handful of wines. Like I said, a place to drink first. And then, be careful with the food. Which deserves attention.

As a “taqueria”, Vida Modern lives up to its name, with 17 tacos on the menu, which could set a new SoCal record. Many are familiar. But even the most familiar have little twists that pay homage to the creativity of the kitchen. The carne asada is filled with extremely tender, beer-marinated flank steak. (Marinate the beef in beer – with yourself!) The pork carnitas are cinnamon braised, topped with an apricot and habanero pepper salsa. The pork al pastor has a slice of grilled pineapple for company. This comes from the tacos listed under “Turf”.

Next to it are the tacos under “Surf”: Wild Alaskan Cod, Pacific Red Snapper, Wild Mexican White Shrimp. Under “Vegetables” we have roasted mushrooms, cauliflower tempura, cactus tempura nopales and seasoned, chopped beyond beef… beef. (Is it really a vegetable? Even though it’s made of vegetables, pretending to be meat? That’s a discussion for those who are much more academic than I am.)

The last section is titled “Tacos for Vida”. Which means… well, I don’t really know what. There’s chicken mole, grilled New York cut steak, lobster tail, and grilled octopus. They all cost more than anything in the other sections. The title must therefore mean … something.

On the other hand, there are entrees like guacamole and nachos. With ahi tuna tacos and crispy beef tacos. Which apparently got lost on our way to the taco side of the menu. There are three ceviches – one made with shrimp, another with scallops, the third with octopus.

There is a Caesar salad and a chopped salad, both with many additions available. Add-ons that multiply in both bowls – again, one surf, the other turf.

There is the panna cotta and there are the churros for dessert. But I guess the cocktails trump the desserts. We started by drinking. So why not stop there?

Merrill Shindler is an independent Los Angeles-based food critic. Send an email to [email protected].

Modern Taqueria Vida

  • Evaluation: 3 stars
  • Address: 1723 S Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach
  • Information: 310-430-7787, mangerdrinkvida.com
  • Food: Modern Mexican with tacos and more
  • When: Lunch, from Friday to Sunday; dinner, every day
  • Details: A star in the world of South Bay’s hip new Mexican restaurants, with both familiar and new wave tacos, plus a menu of many other dishes and many other cocktails.
  • Prices: About $ 25 per person
  • Suggested dishes: 17 Tacos ($ 6- $ 14), 9 Appetizers ($ 11.50- $ 19), 3 Ceviche ($ 18), 2 Salads ($ 11- $ 18), 2 Bowls ($ 12- $ 21)
  • Credit card: MC, V
  • What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth the trip from anywhere!), 3 (Very excellent, if not exceptional. Worth the trip from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A great place to go for a meal. Worth the trip from anywhere in the neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and it’s nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Honestly, not worth it. speak.)
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