Blog: Vida Cantina, Portsmouth

On a beautiful sunny and warm fall day 19 GSA’s met up at Vida Cantina in Portsmouth to check out this eatery, whose chef has been nominated multiple times for a James Beard culinary award. We were seated as a group so could meet and greet each other while trying a variety of the meal options on the menu. Tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches with a Mexican flair were brought to the tables by attentive and friendly servers. I’m sorry I didn’t get my own Pear Margarita that was passed to someone at my table! An added bonus was having Chef Vargas share his story and commitment to local ingredients and the community at large.  The comments below will give you an idea of how much we all enjoyed our lunch.

Vida Cantina 2456 Lafayette Rd, Portsmouth NH

It was a bonanza finding an authentic modern Mexican restaurant in NH. The ambiance and colorful decor was welcoming. It was special meeting a real James Beard semi-finalist. Chef/Owner Dave Vargas’s presentation was enthusiastic and enlightening. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience.  ~Irene & Bob

Our server, Robert, was very friendly and accommodating and provided helpful information about the menu items. The food was very good and Chef Vargas’ talk really gave great insight into their farm-to-table mission for Mexican food. ~Elizabeth

Fantastic Tacos! I have been here several times and each time is not a disappointment. If I lived closer, I would be here a lot more. Highly recommended. ~Phil 

Lunch was so good.   I’d recommend anyone who likes Mexican food to go.  The chef said his family was from Mexico and the food seems more interesting than most Mexican restaurants.   The ingredients were very fresh and the chef said that the food was from local farms.  It was impressive with how connected the restaurant was with the community working with schools and hosting events.  Seems like a real asset to Portsmouth. ~Christine

We certainly enjoyed the opportunity to visit with other GSA’s and to experience a restaurant that is new to us.  The words from Owner/Chef Vargas were the perfect conclusion to our visit.  The Chef’s brief history allowed me to recognize the love behind the food and the warm decor that make Vida Cantina a special place.   ~ Bob W.

What a fabulous experience! The food was excellent and our server, Robert, was very helpful and efficient. The tacos I ordered were delicious and I loved being able to order whatever combination and quantity I wanted, with or without beans and rice.  Sarah B shared some of her guacamole and chips with our table and those were a real treat. Vida Cantina is definitely a hidden gem I will be recommending to everyone! ~ Sue1

Hearing the owner/chef explain the health benefits and the considerations of the community made me appreciate the restaurant even more. ~Joan

I was extremely impressed with Dave’s treatment of his employees and, especially the fact that two servers have worked there for 10 years!   That says a lot about him.  The food was great as well! ~Mark

It was a great afternoon and everything was delightful! I especially enjoyed Chef Vargas’s very informative and history chat about his career, his restaurant, and how he actively supports and shares in the community. Thank you so much ~ Norma  G

Loved getting together and meeting GSA colleagues.  Meeting the chef was interesting. ~Nancy

Vida Cantina’s focus on community connection, through both farm-to-table and training local youth the art of the culinary business, is most impressive.  The quality of the food is top notch, and knowing that they make their own chips in house, well, I appreciate that level of attention to the overall dining experience.  Chef David’s creative decor, blending vibrant colors and patterns, while honoring his Mexican heritage, transformed the former Friendly’s into a unique and fun destination.  Modern Mexican cuisine, with vegetarian and gluten free options, YUM!  My absolute favorite was the Prickly Pear Margarita.  ~Dawn