La Vida Loca At Viva Juan
By Andrea & Dave/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you walk into Centerport’s
Viva Juan on a Wednesday night (as we did) or on a Saturday
night when karaoke is in full effect, you are walking straight
into a party.
Boldly colored cloth napkins fill each water glass; the tables
are less brilliant shades of the primary colors but are no
less exciting, and the walls are draped with paper decorations
that scream fiesta, fiesta. The diners aplenty—dinnertime
means anytime from around 5 p.m. until as late as 9 p.m. when
we noticed several families were trailing in—reflecting
that celebratory mood as they shared an often boisterous laugh
with each other as well as their server.
Anyone who has ever craved Mexican food has done so because
of its succulent flavors and the warm, comforting textures
of familiar cheeses and sauces. It’s fun eating!
While Viva Juan competently accommodates traditional American
hankerings with enchilada and burrito dishes, they also lure
guests to taste the slightly more exotic selections such as
one of our favorites, Quesados Viva Juan ($9.75).
As an educational flair, the restaurant’s management
designed an interesting menu cover: its logo and mythical
legend pertaining to a region in Mexico prompts an enjoyable
conversation among adults, or an exciting story to entertain
Our Mexican experience started when our server, Luis, poured
ice-cold water in our glasses and took our drink order. We
both opted for a glass of sangria ($6.75). Dave chose to have
red wine sangria and Andrea chose the white wine version.
Both are available and served in a pitcher or half pitcher—we
opted for the half since we would each be driving later that
By the time our drinks arrived, we were ready to order our
appetizers. We chose the Quesados Viva Juan and a serving
of Guacamole ($6.95). The quesados were a pleasing array of
flour tortillas filled with cheese and topped by a bed of
crispy lettuce, flavorful guacamole, and creamy sour cream.
It sits in a delicious red sauce that Luis told us was simply
It seems that most up-and-coming Mexican restaurants win our
favor by making the guacamole tableside; often in what is
a paltry serving. Viva Juan does not submit to trends and
we decided to take their kitchen prepared, heaping bowl of
rich and chunky guacamole over any other. The serving was
so large that Andrea took a portion of it home and in contrast
to what one would expect, it was just as good the next day
– at 1 a.m.!
While we were munching our appetizers and sipping wine, our
attention was diverted to our neighboring diners as a loudly
sizzling order of fajitas was set down before our feasting
eyes. Succumbing to a case of food envy when passing eyes
from side-to-side we caved in and ordered the Fajita Combo
($17.95) that features three strips of chicken, three pieces
of tender skirt steak, and three full shrimp served with fresh
onions and green peppers with an encore of sizzle. It comes
accompanied by a healthy stack of warmed flour tortillas,
rice, more guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and refried
Luis suggested the Pollo Avocado ($13.95) and we were happy
that he did. The grilled chicken was smothered in cheese,
more toppings of the tomato sauce that we enjoyed with our
appetizer, and an entire avocado that was cut into fine slices
but rebuilt to maintain the shape of the original fruit.
After we cleaned our plates, we were more than sated but not
surprisingly were able to talk each other into ordering desert.
Go with the wonderful Viva Juan deep fried vanilla Ice Cream
($4.95). Consider all of the appetizing features of funnel
cake, or other versions of fried dough, combined with the
all-powerful might of a mountain of vanilla ice cream. And
if that sounds at all appealing do not miss an opportunity
to taste test the Viva Juan Ice Cream.
The paradoxically festive yet still relaxing Viva Juan is
a Foodie favorite!
East Main Street
Price Range: Moderate
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.
Fri and Sat 3 p.m.-12 a.m.
open until 1 a.m. for Karaoke
Sunday 3 p.m.-11 p.m.