Viva Viva Offers Small Plates and Big Flavor to Astoria
By Jessica Militello
Viva Viva Taqueria and Cantina is a Mexican restaurant on 30th avenue that offers tasty dishes and cocktails for the neighborhood to indulge in. Upon entering the new eatery, artwork and murals decorate the walls portraying owner Josafad Morales’ love for his culture back home, along with his desire to provide authentic, fresh-made tacos and quesadillas to residents on the bustling strip of restaurants and cafes.
Viva Viva opened this past November, shortly after the space’s former occupant, Bonjour Crepes and Wine closed for good. For Morales, who worked at the creperie, he saw the opportunity to use the space to build his dream of having his own restaurant in a neighborhood that he loves.
“I spent two and a half years working in [Astoria] for the previous company,” said Morales, “and I just fell in love with the neighborhood. There are a lot of places to hang out and try different kinds of cuisines, and that’s the main reason I didn’t want to leave Astoria.”
Morales has worked in the restaurant business throughout his life in various roles from the kitchen to manager in cuisines from Thai to Mediterranean. His experience in all aspects of the restaurant helped him to realize that having a menu that is shorter and specializes in dishes like the eatery’s tacos and quesadillas makes for fresher ingredients and food that is always tasty and has consistently great quality. While the Astoria community certainly has a few taqueria’s in the area, careful preparation may just be the key to keep customers coming back for more.
“At many taquerias, they give you the tacos and they have all the sauces on the side,” said Morales, “My chef doesn’t want to play with the temperature of the sauce going into the refrigerator and coming out. Each taco already has the sauce in it and most of the time people eat it the way it comes out because we already combined the flavors.”
Some of the menu’s options include tacos and quesadillas that have choices like the pastor taco, with roasted pork, grilled pineapple, avocado, and tomatillo salsa, as well as choices including chicken, steak, and a vegetarian taco. “Sometimes people ask which part of Mexico is our menu [based from], but this is basically like mom’s recipes that you would eat at home.”
Their cocktails are also given an emphasis on freshness and in-house ingredients including their own nectar, juices, and syrups. The cocktail menu has an extensive variety to choose from ranging from margaritas, mezcalitas, and more.
As the neighborhood becomes more familiar with what Viva Viva has to offer, Morales’ goal is simply to have customers enjoy their food and keep coming back for more.
“I want everyone to try our food,” said Morales. “I know there are a lot of Mexican restaurants around here, but for me it’s fine because they have options and they can really compare what others are doing with what I’m doing. I’m so confident with our menu and I see people are very happy with it.”
Viva Viva Taqueria and Cantina
34-10 30th Ave.