Buena Vida – Silver Spring

Let’s talk about tacos.

I love tacos!  Tacos are the light of life.  I’d lose my mind if I couldn’t eat tacos.  Tacos heal the soul.  I honestly can’t comprehend the fact that there are people who don’t like tacos. It makes me sad that they don’t experience the euphoria of chowing down on a perfectly crafted taco.

Now that my expression of love for tacos is over, I want to talk about a new taco joint in Silver Spring (well technically a two in one taco joint).  In May, a new restaurant opened in Silver Spring where 8407 Kitchen Bar was (right near the metro station and bus depot in downtown Silver Spring).  The restaurant has a unique aesthetic inside and out that catches the eye.  I didn’t really notice this space when it was 8407 Kitchen Bar.  I had to be told it was there, but this redecorated building is hard to miss.

The bottom floor is a restaurant called Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (all amazing things in my book).  This part of the restaurant is more casual, meant for ordering a la carte tacos with a variety of options.  There is a bar area with a TV for watching sports games.  I was here on the day of the World Cup final, and it was lively.

The upstairs floor is a restaurant called Buena Vida, which focuses more on bottomless small plates for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.  You can get food a la carte here, but the best value would be the unlimited tapas.

I had actually not been here for any meal other than brunch until last night.  I have gone to brunch here three or four times already since it opened a couple months ago.  I don’t know if I could put into words how amazing this brunch is.  For $35 (same price as dinner) you can choose endless amounts of freshly prepared Mexican small plates.  Unlike dinner, however, the brunch price also includes bottomless drinks including mimosas, sangria, and margaritas.  It also includes Blood Mary’s, but we don’t really need to discuss that.  (I hate Bloody Mary’s).

Like I said, I have had brunch here a few times now, and it will continue to be a staple in my brunch rotation.  I have meant to take pictures of the food while there, but we always end up demolishing the food before I can remember, because I get distracted by the gorgeous and delicious food in front of me.  The restaurant still has some service issues to solve, but they are doing great for a brand new restaurant.  I just hope they get enough business to stay.

Among my favorite dishes at brunch are: the guacamole (of course!) crab nachos, chilaquiles, tacos (all varieties but steak and eggs were so good) flautas, spicy fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and the sopes.  Okay, fine.  I’ll admit it.  I love the whole menu.  Buena Vida just can’t seem to disappoint me with their food.  I would go as far as to say that this is now my favorite brunch in the DC area, which is saying a lot for me.  I can brunch like no other, and I take it very seriously.  If you are into brunch, I am telling you that you have to go here.  It is not even a recommendation.


As for dinner, I finally experienced the Buena Vida dinner experience, and it was an experience.  My friend and I went after a long day at the office, and we were both famished.  We hadn’t gone with the intention of having a bottomless tapas dinner, but we just couldn’t resist.

We started out with some chips and salsa and added some guacamole.  Buena Vida knows how to make a good guac.  The first time I went to brunch here they something called the Yucatan Guacamole.  It is guacamole with pickled mango, goat cheese, and basil.  When I came back for brunch the next couple times, they had taken the mango guac off the menu and only had traditional guacamole.  The traditional is also delicious, but this mango guacamole is absolutely divine.  Avocados already have a bit of a creamy texture, but when you add the creaminess of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the mango all in one bit, it is out of this world.

I was so sad when it was taken off the menu, and I was actually planning on buying some ingredients to replicate it this weekend.  To my surprise, however, it was back on the menu last night for dinner.  I am not certain if they only serve the three different guac flavors for dinner and lunch only and they are just not including it in the brunch menu, or if they brought it back completely.  Either way, I was rather pleased to be able to re-experience this guacamole.

At this point, I think we knew we weren’t walking out of this place without eating an abundance of delicious Mexican food. We each ordered a drink.  My friend got a classic Margarita.  I chose a cocktail called “Fake Face” which featured pineapple-infused Mezcal.


This was one of the best Mezcal cocktails I have had, and I have had a lot of good Mezcal cocktails lately.  For food, I decided to start with a seafood tostada and an ancho chile duck tortilla soup.  The tostada was light and refreshing with simple ingredients.  The soup on the other hand was deep and rich in flavor.  Ancho chile packs a big punch in flavor, so you should expect this deep smoky flavor.  It was delicious.


We also ordered a few other items, including spinach and cheese enchiladas, squash blossom quesadillas, and potato and cheese flautas (pictured below).


Finally, we were ready to jump into the tacos (the whole reason we came here).  My friend went with a mushroom taco and a crispy tofu taco.  I chose a duck carnitas taco and an al pastor taco.  I can never resist a good al pastor taco.


I was certainly not disappointed by my taco choices, and I know my friend was not either.  The duck carnitas offered a rich and unique flavor.  I have never tasted anything like that before.  I would certainly order that again.  The al pastor was just as good as I expected it to be.

In the end, the Buena Vida experience lived up to its name.  I really felt like I was living the good life.  With the way that the day started at work, I didn’t imagine it would end in pure serenity with endless amounts of delicious Mexican food.  I will certainly take it though.

I cannot say enough times that you have to go visit this restaurant.  It doesn’t matter if it is brunch, lunch, dinner, or happy hour.  You are going to be in for an unbelievable experience.  Silver Spring really needed something like this.  I am a little sad that this came the month after I moved, but it sure will keep me coming back.  I just hope this restaurant continues to pick up business and last for the long run.


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