With the outside temperature finally starting to creep up in South Wales (ok…more than likely down to a temporary glitch in The Matrix), it always seems to be the perfect excuse to come out of hibernation, get out and about in the lighter evenings and discover the local culinary delights. Evidently based on this blog I really don’t need an excuse, but the warmer weather does induce that Summer holiday feeling. Lazy days in the sun, trips to the beach, exploring countries and experiencing new cuisines…
Ok so I can dream…but if you can’t quite stretch to that Latin America trip this year, I can certainly recommend a visit to Vivo Latino. Located on the busy Cowbridge Road East in Cardiff, it’s not quite that far-flung Mexican beach resort; however with its blend of Brazilian, Cuban, Peruvian and Mexican style food and drink you can indubitably use your imagination.
A spacious restaurant, I loved the ‘considered’ decor – beautiful Latin style imagery painted onto exposed brickwork combined with wooden tables, mustard colour seating and industrial chrome lighting. And while the background music appeared to occasionally shift away from the concept, Vivo Latino is a restaurant where you can certainly ‘chill out’ in a relaxed dining atmosphere.
With a range of menus on offer, I opted for the South American Special. Available throughout the week from 6pm-11pm – two courses are £18 and 3 courses are £22 including a complimentary glass of house wine. Did someone say a free glass of wine? Ha ha – usually this would have my name all over it, but just occasionally I temporarily explore life without C₂H₆O, so instead opted for a Virgin Pina Colada. Don’t get me wrong it was missing something…hmm can’t think what! However, it was deliciously creamy and I was kindly informed that I could substitute this as my complimentary beverage of choice.
With a good range of dishes available including nachos, empanadas, burritos and enchiladas, the South American Special menu has something for everyone. Packed full of ingredients found throughout native Latin American food, you can also see influences from India, Spain, Greece and Africa sneaking in.
Eyeing up a number of starter choices, I opted for the Latin home-made bread infused with chilli, garlic and olives and served with sour cream, guacamole, tomato salsa and salad. A generous dish, I was glad I had arrived at the restaurant with my stomach rumbling. Beautifully fresh with a good crust on the bread – it was a great dish for dipping and well…just getting messy and stuck in to.
Having previously experienced home-made Jamaican Goat Curry, which I ‘kid you not’ (sorry…ha ha!) was simply amazing, I was keen to revisit this cut of meat in the form of Vivo Latino’s own Peruvian Goat Curry offering. A well presented dish served with black bean rice, salad and a tortilla thrown in for good measure it tasted fairly similar to its Jamaican predecessor. Marinated meat chunks were flavoursome, well spiced and tender, and while the bone to meat ratio was a little in favour of the former, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the curry.
Needless to say, after two courses I decided to draw a line in the Mexican sand (well I can imagine – I think the furthest I am going this Summer is Barrybados!). However, with a choice of crispy churros, chocolate fudge cake and chilli chocolate fondant – I can safely say I will be ordering a dessert next time…I’m pretty sure the Matrix will repair itself and inevitably ensure that squeezing into a bikini will not be required anytime soon!
- With a range of menus to explore including their main, an express lunch and a Little Latinos menu – there truly is something for everyone.
- Portions are on the larger size and subsequently are excellent value for money.
- Vivo Latino have recently expanded into Cardiff City Centre – located in a hut on Hayes Island they offer street food inspired by vendors in Mexico and Southern America including nachos, quesadillas, empanadas and curries. Best of all if you’re in a rush to get back to the office, they have a pre-order lunch box pick-up service…drop them a quick text to beat the queues!
Would I go back?
Yes definitely, I have been known to enjoy the odd burrito and quite frankly those crispy churros are calling, so I have a strange feeling I will be back…soon!
Would I recommend Vivo Latino?
A great independent in Cardiff, it is certainly good value for money. If you enjoy discovering new dishes and dining in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, then Vivo Latino is perfect for experiencing the ‘Latin’ side of life.
Address | 147 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff, CF11 9AH
Web | www.vivolatino.co.uk