Charlotte and I love finding new foodie treasures and when some friends advised us to try Viva Cuba, we simply had to check out this intriguing tapas joint.
Located on the Kirkstall Road opposite some of the more popular chain restaurants in the leisure complex, Viva Cuba looks like one of those restaurants that you feel slightly wary of entering! However, although the inside is fairly dimly lit, the warm and friendly welcome is something special, and there’s a wonderful buzz to the place that is evident as soon as you step through the door.
Specialising in tapas, Viva Cuba has a diverse menu that offers something for everyone (although the menu is not perfect for coeliacs, which would be my only small criticism of the otherwise excellent restaurant).
Of particular interest are the vegetarian options (including Viva Cuba’s standout dish of jalapeno poppers filled with cream cheese) and the fish dishes. All in all, the quality and accessibility of the menu explains why Viva Cuba has previously been successful in winning an Oliver Award for Best World Cuisine.
Back to our dining experience, Charlotte and I had ordered a couple of drinks and decided that while we had a proper look at the main menu items, we would order some tortillas con salsa (topped with cheese). This turned out to be an inspired move! As someone who is in love with nachos, the Viva Cuba take on them was exceptional. The three dipping sauces all had a unique and interesting flavour, and the tortillas themselves were nicely covered in an even amount of cheese and herbs.
Following our fabulous starter, we opted to go for a mixture of meat, veg, and rice in order to try and create a ‘balanced’ tapas selection. In all honesty, there were about ten dishes that we wanted to order so to pick four between us was a bit of a challenge! Charlotte pushed for the jalapeno poppers, I picked an intriguing rice dish called Moros y Christiano (topped with a fried egg!) and we agreed on two meat dishes in the form of albondigas Cubanas (Cuban meatballls) and lomo de Cerdo (pork loin in tomato sauce). As you can see, the dishes are a level up from some of the usual standard items on a tapas menu at other Spanish restaurants. Everything seemed to have Viva Cuba’s own take on it, meaning that we were truly excited when everything was brought out to our table.
The jalapenos offered a lovely creamy texture and truly were a highlight of the meal. The pork loin dish offered a true cave man experience as the chunks of meat were hearty and cooked to perfection. The meatball dish had a fantastic depth of flavour, with the meatballs nicely seasoned, and everything was complemented delightfully by the wonderful Moros y Christiano rice dish!
Regular readers will know that Charlotte and I often struggle when it comes to the final hurdle at a restaurant and sometimes don’t have room for pudding! Following a short break, though, this time we managed to find room for two very different styles of dessert! Charlotte opted for the demure and nice palate cleansing lemon sorbet, presented in a scooped out lemon, whilst I opted for a chocolate bomb that was bursting with flavour without being overpowering. All in all, it was an unnecessary but tasty end to our dinner!
When it came to the bill, we thought it was pretty good value considering we had enjoyed some nice soft drinks as well as effectively a three course meal. Viva Cuba is a lovely place to visit with a group of friends or family. It offers a great atmosphere that promotes the sharing style that tapas embodies. We hope to be back soon!
Categories: Restaurant reviews