By: Derek Bastien
My 2 Favorite Places in Uptown Charlotte
Vida Cantina and Vida Vida (yes these are two different places) in the Epicentre are two of my favorite places in Uptown Charlotte for lunch, after work, and nightlife for so many reasons.
First, you have Vida, which is a huge uptown favorite for lunch if you want to sit down in a nice setting, have good food, and still not break the bank. When I first came to Charlotte as a wide-eyed intern, my mentor took me here on my very first day, and it was my first uptown lunch experience (Ahhh, fond memories of being an intern…lol). It was also the first place I had a lunch date, and the first place I had a dinner date, too. Now…those two girls I brought there... that didn’t work out so much (sad face emoticon)…but the dates themselves are a very fond memory and a large reason I will always have a soft spot for Vida Cantina. I loved the upscale feel that they brought to Mexican food and the ambience of the restaurant. I called it “Mexican food, reinvented.”
On the other side, you have Vida Vida, which shares a kitchen with Vida Cantina. Now Vida Vida is more like a tapas restaurant meets bar. It is very popular in the evenings, and Vida Vida has a growing nightlife clientele and very relaxed “come hang out” feel. This is a favorite of mine for meeting folks after work for drinks whether to talk business or play, or grabbing some food before nighttime shenanigans. The high-top tables are perfect to bring along your portfolio, or you can hang out at the bar or outside patio for a chill vibe. A favorite of mine on their menu is the Philly Cheesesteak Tacos…so yummy.
Part of the Charlotte Community
I’m a little biased here, but the biggest reason I probably love Vida Cantina and Vida Vida (and was compelled to write this article) is their commitment to being part of the community and being crazy awesome to partner with. I’m on the Board of the Young Affiliates of the Mint (YAM), the oldest and largest Young Professional organization in Charlotte that supports the Mint Museum, and they’ve not only hosted happy hours for us, but they’ve also co-hosted National Tequila Day with us (and donated the proceeds) and donated food to our Derby Days event. They’re also well known for doing events with and donating to Habitat for Humanity and the Humane Society.
"Come Hang Out With Us"
Lastly, I really fell in love with them when I was running my nightlife entertainment company LIME Entertainment. They were my first client, and I had such a blast doing events with them and partnering with their events manager Andrea. The Day of the Dead Halloween Party in 2015 was definitely a highlight. Of course, I ended up leaving LIME when I joined the absolutely amazing Leadership Team of Eat Work Play this year, but I still retain a great relationship with Vida. Adam, the bar manager, is super easy-going and has a great client-focused personality that makes his staff and clientele feel like they’re at home. The staff is super young and upbeat, the ambiance is super relaxed, and management is the coolest. Everyone there always did such a great job of creating a super friendly “come hang out with us” vibe. I love that about both places. It’s somewhere you can relax and enjoy la vida!
Taco Sociale - Every Thursday
And now, I recently found out there’s another great reason to love Vida Cantina even more. I found out that they’re bringing back their Taco Sociale special every Thursday after work at the Vida Cantina restaurant: $2 featured tacos, $3 Coronas, and $4 Craft Beers, which makes it a prime spot for happy hours or after-work drinks. You will definitely being seeing me around there. :)
Whether for lunch, after work, or nighttime, Vida and Vida Vida will always have a place in my heart. While some foodies will disagree with me, my enjoyment of an establishment always, always largely comes from the people and the atmosphere. If you have dank food, but a terrible staff or weird vibe, it doesn’t do it for me. But I’ve always been extremely about people and experiences in life in general, more than anything else. Vida Cantina and Vida Vida just happen to have great food and great vibes.
Not only was Vida many of my firsts in Charlotte (and you always remember your first…winky face), but I love their commitment to the community and the lovely environment they create no matter what time of day you stop by. That, for me, sets them apart. Ricky Martin might say “Vive la vida loca.” I say, “Vive la vida Vida.” ;)
- Derek Bastien