The Vivo Review! Just East of the University of Texas on Manor Rd. is a gem of a restaurant called "Vivo".
My history with them goes back to around 1991. The restaurant was opened by a fellow from San Antonio named Roger Diaz. Roger's family owns a great little place called "La Fiesta Patio Cafe" on the edge of San Antonio. The thing about La Fiesta is that they go for the natural / vegetarian take on traditional Mexican food. That's a great thing when you are a vegetarian like me. They have homemade beans and brown rice (yes, brown rice), which are worth the drive from Austin. In fact, my friends and I would frequently brave the drive down I-35 to San Antonio including gas costs and risk to life and limb in order to get this sublime Mexican food fix.
Anyhow, Roger's grandmother makes the best salsa I have ever had... I have been trying to figure out what is in it for years -- smokey, a bit of garlic, tomato. It has a mysterious balance of smoke, garlic, and ... mysterious something. What IS it?? Once you get a taste of it, all other salsas fade into the background. It has these little black specks in it which seem to be the source of its other-worldly power.
For years, my friends and I kept telling them "open a restaurant in Austin!!! We drive all the way down here all the time...you don't want us to waste all that gas do you??".
Finally about 4 years ago they opened a location here in Austin. They brought most of the menu with them too! The food is almost as good as La Fiesta. The salsa has the same ingredients, but is not made with the same sense of balance and proportion. The enchilada sauce is the same, and good. The overall experience here in Austin is more fun, since Vivo has a great patio area and nice modern 'girly' art inside, and a generally 'Austin / cool' vibe. They don't have the nice fresh fruit sorbet that La Patio has, and I have to say that they are a good bit more expensive. (If you factor in the drive to San Antonio, Vivo in Austin is cheaper though...).
Thanks for coming to Austin guys!
La Fiesta Patio Cafe
1421 Pat Booker Rd
Universal City, TX 78148
2015 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
Austin, TX 78722