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“Fantastic Margarita selection, great food, crowded bar area”

Viva Taqueria & Cantina
Ranked #20 of 261 Restaurants in Ithaca
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Late Night
Cortland, NY
Level Contributor
34 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Fantastic Margarita selection, great food, crowded bar area”
Reviewed January 14, 2012

We try to eat other places, but usually when we're looking for a place to eat in Ithaca our car automatically searches for a parking spot near Viva. It's hard to resist. The prices are very reasonable a small casual restaurant. The food is great, the decor is interesting, and the Margaritas are the best in town—esp. the Super Premium with the shot of Grand Mariner on the side. Best value is the Rock Hudson. Drink prices are reasonable. Wait staff has always been courteous and ready to make things right or honor special requests.

Worst part is this place is so popular, the wait can be long, esp. if there is some special college event that night (2 area colleges in one town) it's a long wait for a table. A long wait wouldn't be a negative (actually can be a positive because of the Margaritas) IF they had a larger bar area, but the bar area is VERY small and narrow and everyone crowds in like Sardines in a tin while waiting for their table for 30 min on a busy night. Usually you end up crowded around each other getting bumped and smushed while people try to get by you trying to find a standing spot of their own, or get to the bar lined with people to try and order a drink. That's absolutely the ONLY negative I can say about Viva. They are such a popular spot, they really have outgrown this location. They are a victim of their own success. : )

We've eaten here for YEARS and always been satisfied with the food, service, and drinks.

  • Visited November 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank pattii55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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295 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
81 reviews
61 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Great Tequila Bar!”
Reviewed December 28, 2011

This is a Mexican restaurant with decent food and a great Tequila and Mezcal selection. We have visited this place several times, always with friends. If the weather is good, you can sit outside, where you can have your dog with you, which is huge plus for me. Inside is generally noisy and crowded. The tables are on the small side, if all four of your party members order a full meal. However, as far as ambiance goes, the masks on the wall are pretty cool and the restaurant definitely has a Mexican flair to it. The food is fresh and good, although not very spicy. The chips served as an appetizer are great; freshly made and not greasy at all. The best thing about Viva though, are the flights of Tequila and Mezcal. The wide selection is really exquisite. The bar tenders are very knowledgeable and can help you pick the Tequilas that are right for you. The margaritas served at Viva are much more like those that I have had in Mexico rather than the Chili's or similar style froufrou drinks. In summary, the food is decent, and the drinks are outstanding. A cool hangout before the movies or a fun place to hang with friends if you don't mind the wait if the college students are in town. I have never tried to make reservations so I don't know if that is possible but they do have take out, which appears to be very popular.
PS. In case you don't know the difference between Mezcal and Tequila: the former is made from the heart of the maguey plant, a type of agave, while the latter is specifically made from the blue agave.

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Cruisin007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ithaca, New York
Level Contributor
27 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
“In my top 5”
Reviewed December 26, 2011

Cheap, fast and delicious. With a great (and often packed) happy hour.

Helpful?
Thank Jessica E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Level Contributor
58 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Try the Mole”
Reviewed December 18, 2011

My third visit to Viva was the charm. At my son's request we had a quick Sunday night dinner as he took a finals study break. I followed a review to try the mole and it was fantastic. It was comparable to a mole I had in a small restaurant in Tulum, Mexico several years ago. A side of marinated carrots and onions accompanied the dish, a Mexican staple as well, though something usually not seen in the North. Great margaritas as well - try the Ana's.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Pamela M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ithaca, New York
Level Contributor
137 reviews
105 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Decent Mexican, fun atmostphere”
Reviewed December 7, 2011

As I understand it, if you're used to authentic tex-mex from the American Southwest, the food here is nothing fantastic (I do think their mole is scrumptious). However, it's decent food at decent prices in a really fun, brick-walled restaurant just off the Commons. It's also convenient in that it opens before noon and serves right through until late at night, so you can drop in any time - I have a weird work schedule, so it's some place I can count on getting a nice meal at 3pm let's say. Wait staff generally nice and efficient, food tends to come out of the kitchen really fast, so if you don't want a speedy meal, let your server know! I'm not much of a drinker, so can't say much about their drinks (I do like their frozen margaritas) but they have a bar area that seems well loved. Kids certainly are welcome, but be prepared, this place is LOUD during lunch and dinner.

Visited November 2011
Helpful?
Thank karlou25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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