hotlanta latino tapas: pura vida

behold my last post about the ATL.

before i go any further, i know what you’re thinking about this post. ok fine, so i gotta admit that i first thought of going to this restaurant in the cute ATL hood i was staying at because it’s so clearly a reference to mi tierra. pura vida is what costa ricans say the way you gringos say “cool.” but the meaning, like everything else in our fine land, is waaay hippie-er than just saying wassup. “pura vida” means pure life. so it’s as if people asked, “yo, how’s it going?” and you answered, “pure life!”

ahem. yeah.

anyway, i was intrigued by Pura Vida precisely because it was a Latino tapas place that referenced my small and often forgotten little homeland piece of central america. and yes, in addition, i MUST eat all the latin food EVERYWHERE. EVER. so get used to it.

then, there was the added reveal, courtesy of my coworker Amanda, that the chef at Pura Vida is famous. and yours truly is never, ever, ever too snooty for a celebrity chef. it was my moment to feel like Padma and judge him mercilessly. so i did! and now you get to read about it.

Pura Vida was nice-looking. good lighting, a decent wine list, your classy white-accepted Latino playlist featuring the likes of Celia Cruz and Buena Vista Social Club. apart from one creepy waiter that lurched around like the man with the van, the staff was really nice and helpful (as are all atlantans that i met, really). and i ordered two small tapas which the waitress paired with a delicious chilean riesling (yeah, weird, i know, but so so good). one of the tapas i knew to get because Amanda had recommended it. the other one sounded good to me. and i will present it to you, anxious bloggerazzi, in the same order i received it.

exhibit a: peruvian blue tilapia crudo

that would be pink salt demi cured, palm hearts, fish sauce air, wasabi dots, and aji amarillo shiro-miso alioli. sounds delicious, right? take a closer look:

this tapa was ok. it was definitely the right texture combo (the palmito gave it a nice little crunch), and the presentation was sublime. but it was just…salty. it was tasty but way, way too salty. and i find this often to be the case in so-called gourmet restaurants. salt is great, people, but it is NOT the only spice in the world. too much.

but then!

exhibit b: steamed coconut buns


so i only took one photo of this. i only took one photo of this because i was too busy eating the shit out of it to care about taking more photos. this is smoked pillón pork belly, tamarind sauce, shaved cabbage, cilantro and pickled chilies all in a gently coconut-scented bun. it was out of this world amazing. i only did not eat like 10 of them because i’m already destined to be a gluttonous gordinflona when i grow up.

so if you are ever lucky enough to be in hotlanta, go there. take the pork buns. leave the tilapia.

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~ by nadstina on May 22, 2011.

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