Buena Vida - Arlington

4.3
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224 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican
At Buena Vida the cuisine featured is traditional, indigenous fare incorporating recipes that have been handed down through generations. One will have an authentic experience, tasting a Mexican cooking that transcends what one expects from most Mexican restaurants in America. For example, there is no flour used in any savory dish as seeds are ground and incorporated, as is the tradition for authentic cuisine from this country. The restaurant takes pride in using fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as sustainable and socially responsible cooking methods. All items are made from scratch including organic corn tortillas, house-made sauces and made-to-order salsas.

Special Offers

Complementary Sparkling from us

Every reservation made from 5 pm to 6pm every day in the week- will be offered sparkling on the house. Be our guest! Start Fiesta right way!

Terms and Conditions:

Valid For: 1 - 20 people

Starts: 18 December 2019

Ends: 19 December 2118

Availability: Daily 17:00-18:00

Valentine's Day Special Menus & More

For Valentines Day we will be offering our Fiesta Experience-unlimited small plates for $75 per person with $.25 per drink special and one dessert for two to share.

Friday, 14 February, 2020

What 224 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.2
food
4.2
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
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SM
Washington DC
51 reviews
Dined on 16 January 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

LOVED the variety - and the $35 unlimited small plates during restaurant week! We are fans of their sister restaurant across the street - Ambar - and have confirmed they are doing just a brilliant a job at Buena Vida!

KD
New England
7 reviews
Dined on 15 January 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful staff, food was fantastic, tapas style plates, enjoyed visiting with family
Will be back, keep up the good work.

CC
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on 12 January 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Awesome Brunch! Great food and service.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 11 January 2020
Overall4food4service3ambience4

. We had a 8 pm reservation but we’re not seated until 8:37

Not acceptable. John Hackett

Ps

We arrived 10 minutes early as well

l
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 1 January 2020
Overall2food4service1ambience5

Employees were very accommodating and friendly and helpful. Delicious food, great atmosphere. Slow bar, slow kitchen.

SV
1 review
Dined on 31 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Spent new years at Buena Vida.
The ambiance was great the general look and feel of the place is very pleasing.
Food was really good, very edgy with the taste combinations and traditional mexican cuisine.
Service was the best part, really friendly folks, Dusan our server for the second time was great, and all the folks there are very patient and friendly which is a win win combination.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 31 December 2019
Overall1food2service3ambience4

Great location and nice venue. Low value. Food overpriced.

KD
1 review
Dined on 31 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Outstanding service, very attentive wait people, food delicious and overall experience was excellent. Will definitely recommend to others and expect to visit again in the near term. Great New Year Eve menu as well for ringing in 2020.

BD
Washington DC
37 reviews
Dined on 30 December 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Another great celebration at Buena Vida. Great food, great cocktails and friendly service. Such a treat!

OT
1 review
Dined on 29 December 2019
Overall3food5service5ambience5

Waiter was accommodating and very pleasant. Food came out very slow once tables started getting filled, despite the restaurant not being full. Would go back for bottomless brunch,but slightly earlier so that we wouldn’t have to wait so long for food and drinks

AE
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined on 28 December 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Food is good but pricey, the $35 all you can eat tapas is a nice experience but you best be hungry if you want to get value for your dollar. The wife and I spent $100 there for two drinks and the food and it didn’t quite feel like it was a nice enough place to spend that kind of money.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 25 December 2019
Overall3food2service3ambience4

The food could be better. Great ambiance, but generally I wished more from the flavor of the food.

C
Washington DC
31 reviews
Dined on 25 December 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience3

The portions were large and the prices were high, so we wasted a lot of expensive food. The food was okay. We just didn't love it. We think the chef must really like pepper and we don't. Spaghetti and meatballs were fine -- lots of garlic, the steak was fine but the fries were crispy all the way through, the kale and quinoa salad was very filling so I couldn't eat much of it, the snapper was good but I left most of the other things on the plate, and the pork chop was pretty good. Dessert was the best part: we enjoyed the bread pudding and warm chocolate cake. The atmosphere is very casual and service was attentive.

CD
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 25 December 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

most dishes needed salt, $35 all you can eat is best value

J
Washington DC
33 reviews
Dined on 25 December 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Food was all delicious and inventive. Went for Christmas dinner and it was a good pick. When I made my reservation, on the website it showed the menu and stated there would be some special items for the holiday. Not only were we disappointed there were no special dishes added, there were also out of a few items (despite us having the first reservation of the evening). This put a bit of a damper on things as I was especially looking forward to the short ribs. All in all we'd definitely return. Small dishes were flavorful and fresh.

OT
Richmond
5 reviews
Dined on 21 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I give this 5 star review very intentionally. This place has it all - an incredible restaurant ambiance, amazing food, and impeccable service.

The space is classy and thoughtfully decorated. The seating is well spaced-out, and you can tell that the management took careful care in curating an elevated, modern, and sleek Mexican aesthetic.

This is my second visit to this restaurant and there has been a noticeable improvement in quality. The first time, I went for brunch and had a mediocre experience. However, this time, I went for the unlimited dinner and the atmosphere was rich, romantic, and at a preferred noise level - quiet enough to be able to hear your date but loud enough so as to not hear the table next to you. I'm confident that any of the lower rated reviews were rated before the operations revamp, as my second visit was an exceedingly more positive experience than the first.

The dishes were great. Out of all the small tapas dishes I tried, my favorites were the hanger steak, the pork al pastor, and lamb barbacoa. We're obviously a very carnivore-heavy couple, but really, every plate that we had was delicious.

To add some color around the service... After we finished, it was the first time I had seen a table's plates cleared in one swoop - much impressive for a tapas-styled experience especially.

To top it all off, we had espresso spiked with Baileys to complement a gluttonous chocolate cake. A perfect end to a perfect date. I would also recommend this place for a group of friends reuniting, a celebration, or a “just because" get-together. We will absolutely return.

NV
Washington DC
11 reviews
Dined on 20 December 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience3

Fine but nothing special. Small plates means "very small" plates. LOL.

IF
1 review
Dined on 13 December 2019
Overall2food1service1ambience2

Food took a long time. Took 30 mins for drinks to come. I am taking my team back for a holiday dinner and really rethinking if this would be a good choice or not. The server was nice and so was the manager bit their service overall is bad and their food has no taste!

OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on 8 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything was beautiful and really provided for the greatest experience to enjoy your company. I will say the bathrooms were a little gross and they operate by door knob (germs!) and they only had one menu with a la cart pricing list if you didn’t want to do the all you can eat for $32, but overall the food was to die for, the ambiance was beautiful, and the cocktails were delicious! I will definitely be back.

OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on 8 December 2019
Overall2food3service3ambience4

The ambiance was nice and our server was very attentive, but the kitchen was extremely slow in getting any of the small plates out. Compared to other small plates restaurants in the area, this one does not compare. While the food is great, we probably got less than half of what we even ordered. It was not worth waiting another thirty minutes for a plate. The restaurant was not even that full. Overall not worth $34.

AE
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 7 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food and cocktails. Will definitely visit again.

R
Washington DC
37 reviews
Dined on 7 December 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Buena Vida was excellent - great service, great food.

OT
Atlanta
1 review
Dined on 27 November 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience4

To be honest, this meal was mediocre at best. The food went from having over powering seasoning to bland. On top of that, the service was not good. We sat for over 15 minutes before anyone came to take our drink order. When we asked to see the a la carte menu the server gave us some attitude and then brought one copy (there were 3 of us). From there we sat for long periods and had an item we ordered missed. When our server finally came to check on us after we were long finished with food and our only drink order, we were asked if we wanted dessert without any idea what was available. One of these service misses I would understand, but all together bubbles into an unexceptionable experience.

BD
Washington DC
38 reviews
Dined on 26 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

One of our favorite places in Arlington. The small plates are creative, tasty and varied. Something for everyone. Service was attentive, and the server helpful in navigating the menu.

RG
Washington DC
22 reviews
Dined on 23 November 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience5

Enjoyed the unlimited tapas option. The drinks were great! I got the pear ginger margarita, it was delicious. A great place for a group of friends or a date.

OT
1 review
Dined on 23 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was great!

j
Philadelphia
4 reviews
Dined on 23 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Nice little spot where you can candlelight dine or just sit and have a drink and eat tacos. And the Mix-and-Match is amazing when you want different options.

OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on 15 November 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Great service

OT
Miami
1 review
Dined on 14 November 2019
Overall2food1service2ambience3

The food was mediocre at best. Afterwards we were too full but not satisfied. Wouldn’t go back.

b
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 10 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely loved our waitress, Nika, and when our food was late she gave us a dessert crepe free of charge! She was very considerate and friendly. Our food was delicious and arrived hot. I love their brunch menu!

CB
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 8 November 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience5

Service could be better .. sometimes the food comes fast and sometimes it arrives slow

f
New England
8 reviews
Dined on 7 November 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience2

We were a party o 7, they sat us at an oval table under the staircase which felt really claustrophobic. We were moved, which was great, although the hostess did not tell anyone we moved. Eventually, our server came over to bring menus, but could not articulate clearly the difference between the $35 per person menu and the alacarte menu, so our ordering was very confusing. The dishes came out in a disorganized manner, empty dishes were not cleared at all. Overall, not a great experience.

OT
Washington DC
15 reviews
Dined on 3 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our waitress was great
We waited for one friend who was
having a hard time getting there
and she was understanding and
very nice about the wait
Loved the chips and we ordered
Guac to go with

OT
Richmond
5 reviews
Dined on 3 November 2019
Overall2food2service1ambience4

I made an 11:30 Sunday brunch reservation for three people but we did not get seated until 11:50. The only reason that we got seated was because we got the attention of one of the bartenders and we were promptly seated afterwards. The service was inadequate - it took around 15 minutes before someone asked if we were ready to order. We had a few people check in on our tables during our meal, which was a good attempt at service, but then when we were wrapping up our meal, the person started taking away our plates without even asking and we were not finished with our meal.

Funny enough, I had a coworker passively recommend this place. Another coworker noted their distaste for this restaurant because of subpar food and service, but I was just hoping that her experience was a one time occasion and I decided to visit this restaurant anyways. I should have listened to my second coworker’s advice and picked a different restaurant other Buena Vida. I will not come back.

DC
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on 2 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a lovely time at BV this past weekend. We did the unlimited $29 small plates option and really enjoyed having the opportunity to try all kinds of different things. The waiter was wonderful--just the right amount of attentive but didn't hover. He was also very good about pacing and spreading out the dishes so that everything didn't come at once. We especially liked the salmon, chicken enchilada, and grilled shrimp. Definitely will be back!

MJ
New England
3 reviews
Dined on 1 November 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious food and phenomenal drinks! Highly recommend the unlimited plates option!

CS
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on 28 October 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

We were attracted by the Restaurant Week menu that features unlimited "small" plates for $29/person. The "small" plates include at least 30 different options. We sampled ten of these options - all were excellent. Standout dishes included the tuna ceviche, the grilled salmon, the chicken skewer (with mole sauce) and the soft taco with shaved brussel sprouts. This Restaurant Week menu is currently available through November 4th; we have encouraged others to try Buena Vida; and we will return to sample this menu again. We recommend that the restuarant consider making this sampling menu available all the time - like its neighbor Ambar. At $35/person, this would still be a terrific value!

GJ
Raleigh
18 reviews
Dined on 26 October 2019
Overall4food3service4ambience4

Got excited when I saw they were doing unlimited small plates for $29 for 2 weeks. Overal the atmosphere and service were good but I was a little disappointed with the food. It was good but some of the plates were hit and miss and it felt like the flavor pallet on each was missing something.

LC
1 review
Dined on 26 October 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a great night out at Buena Vida. The food was delicious and the cocktails were even better! The tuna tartare was so fresh and the pulled pork was incredible. Service was impeccable. We tried the limitless menu and our waiter was extremely attentive - we certainly didn’t leave the restaurant hungry or thirsty! Love the ambience. I’d come back in a heartbeat.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 24 October 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We checked this place out for Arlingtons Restaurant Week and fell in love! The food was delicious, the service was great and the ambiance was cozy. Beautiful decor as well! Will be back!