Today I drove my hubby down to the Providence campus of University of Rhode Island to meet with the head of the psychology department. Parking is scarce at best and expensive as heck in down-town Providence so the plan was to drop him off and go sit at Fresh Purls to knit for a while until he needed me to pick him up. Instead, he asked me to come inside with him to help ask questions and since one of the garages was having a "one-day-only" parking special, I obliged him. We went inside and chatted with a very nice professor about the options and when it was time to leave, we noticed a nice little restaurant next to the garage called Viva Mexico!
Now, as you may all know, I am originally a Northern Californian and I know my Mexican food. I haven't found good authentic Mexican food in Rhode Island in the 11 years I've lived here. The only good Mexican I've had since moving here was when Heather and I drove through Connecticut on the way to Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep & Wool Festival, three (or four) years ago. So we decided that we had some time to kill and we'd stop in for lunch. I haven't had a lunch date with my husband in years and it sounded like fun.
When we got inside, we were greeted by a warm and friendly woman who showed us to a table. The tables and chairs were painted with the most brilliant blue I've seen in a long time, with white lines on the tables and brightly colored flowers on the backs of the chairs. The upper-walls were pumpkin-orange, with a stripe of the same blue running horizontally, followed by a warm brown. They had metal stars hanging from the ceiling, with star-shaped holes punched in the metal so the light could shine through. They had other stars that had beautiful little crescent shapes cut into them and jewels attached. They looked like lace work. There was an amazing mural painted on the wall behind us; a nature scene in the shape of letters that spelled out "Mexico". And there was an open kitchen.
The menu was really surprising, and there were at least 10 different vegetarian selections to choose from (which made me quite happy). Our server's name was Jimmy, and he was attentive, friendly, and willing to be honest with me about his opinion of the cactus salad I was considering ordering, lol. I went for the vegetarian burrito. Everything was made fresh on site, including the chips, salsa, refried beans, and guacamole. The food was very good; definitely the closest I've come yet to the Mexican food I'm used to eating in California. Then to top it off, a man walked in and sat down in table near ours, pulled out a guitar, and started to sing Spanish folk songs! He had an amazing voice and it was the coolest experience we'd had in a long time (cause, you know, it could have gone only one of two ways...). I smiled the entire time and I haven't had much to smile about recently.
Finally, on the way out the hostess said 'goodbye' to us, as did the lovely man and woman in the kitchen. Aaron complimented her on the food and she smiled a broad warm smile. I've never felt so at home or so welcome in a restaurant in... ever maybe? We felt like we were family. He told them we'd definitely be back, and we most certainly will. So get yourself over to Viva Mexico and try them for lunch.