Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Life - Pura Vida

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. On Friday the 13th no less! It's been entirely too long, but after flirting with a gig in print, I'm back to the blog and will be updating on a more regular basis. I have a ton of backlogged reviews, so keep your refresh buttons handy, as they'll be flowing forth in the coming weeks.

I should have hated Pura Vida. I hate tapas. They are more often than not overpriced, meager on the portions (Iberian Pig), and poorly executed. In fact, before our meal at Pura Vida, I can't think of a successful tapa I've ever had. Another reason I shouldn't have liked it was that Chef Hector Santiago kind of rubbed me the wrong way on Top Chef. He also was eliminated early on in the competition. However, our meal at Pura Vida was my favorite in recent memory. 15 atrocious minutes of fame aside, the Hector can clearly cook.

Taking one glance at the menu at Pura Vida, there are easily more than 10 dishes I would pine for. The menu is heavy on the proteins so if you're a vegetarian, you only have 4 items to choose from - although I'm sure they're good. Kins and I tried to order a variety of dishes that sounded best and this is how they came out. The menu is clearly Latin inspired, and the one Asian inspired dish we ordered was kind of a failure. Here's the breakdown:
1. Chorizo Empanadas - These were a special and only $3 and they hit the spot. Just Chorizo, cheese and a flakey crust which was slightly on the dry side.
2. Sierra and Langoniza Pinchos - Easily the best fish I've had in a loooong time! It was tender, flakey, and still steak like while remaining sublime in flavor. The house made sausage was also perfect and tender enough to fall apart at first bite. The baby banana mustard on this dish was brilliant and was the perfect offsetting tang to the perfectly seasoned fish and sausage. At $8, you get 4 skewers - a very generous portion by tapas standards. I'd pay $8 for two.
3. King of Crab Papaya Salad - This one was the failure. The spices were completely overwhelming and killed the sweetness of the papaya, if there was any. The crab distributed through the dish was very generous and delicious however.
After I tore into it

4. "BBQ" Beef Rib - Beef shortribs are essentially the modern day pork belly. They're fatty, flavorful, and historically, undesirable. In the past few years, the shortrib has made it's way up to more refined establishments and rightfully so. Fork tender, with perfectly rendered fat, the rib was extremely flavorful and the accompanying spice of the chipotle-bbq sauce nails it with the pickled vegetables providing a cool followup to the heat.

The magaritas here are kind of bland, but it's my understanding that the mojitos are top of the line.

The meal at Pura Vida was nearly perfect and delicious (most of the time). The menu is inspired and well executed and has items that you can't get elsewhere in Atlanta, and for this I have to give it all of my praise. Hats off to you Mr. Santiago because your menu and food is awesome.
Pura Vida on Urbanspoon


  1. Thanks for the nice write up on the food. We at Pura Vida truly appreciate it. You may want to revisit Top Chef 6 (DVD should be at Target)... Chef Hector was not a douche-bag to women on the show... That was Mike Isabella. As his wife, I can tell you that he's awesome to women (not just me), and that he's quite offended by your misinformed comments about him, now posted on the internet. And yes... husband or not, Hector can really cook! (With Heart & Cojones!!)

  2. I found this blog randomly. Google hit on the image of your blog title. A very clever blog title.
    ... naturally, I had to see & I like! So I'm adding you :) Hope you don't mind!

  3. Leslie,

    Thanks for commenting and you are totally correct. Review corrected! I apologize to you and yours and have been back to Pura Vida this past weekend and enjoyed it immensely again.