Let me begin by saying there are very few choices for Mexican on the Northside/Oceanway area of Jacksonville. Viva Mexican is the star of what is available up there. It is situated on the corner of a tiny shopping center at the intersection of Faye Road and Alta Drive, so keep an eye out because it can be easily passed without seeing it.
Address: 2467 Faye rd., Jacksonville 32226
Viva serves the typical Americanized Mexican menu options with your varied blends of beef, chicken, lettuce and cheese. They have an extensive menu. The lunch specials are a good portion size and are served until 5 pm. The dinner specials are huge portions. They also have a la carte items and plenty of specialty dishes.
Viva is incredibly quick with their service. As soon as we sat down, we had a server at our table with chips and salsa. The chips were fresh, hot, and not overly salty. The salsa is one of my favorite things at Viva. It is well blended (I’m sorry for you chunky salsa fans out there, I very much prefer blended salsa) and I’d say a medium on the spiciness index. It is served cold and that mixed with the hot chips makes a great combination. We always order queso as well ($2.75). The queso is very creamy and only has a hint of spice to it. Any time we have visited, our food is out in less than 5 minutes. Sometimes I get nervous if food comes out too quick at a restaurant, but I have never had the problem of my food tasting old or not being extremely hot. Obviously a good portion of the food is prepped in advance and the simplicity of ingredients keeps the cook moving at a pretty fast pace. We ordered three beef and cheese soft tacos, a chicken enchilada, a chicken taco, and rice and beans as our meal. ($15.25 total with three a la carte items and one combo dinner). The beef and cheese tacos were very fresh. The cook wraps them in foil so the tortillas are soft from the steam of the meat. The ground beef that they use doesn’t have much seasoning, so I recommend pouring some of the salsa they bring you on top of the meat before you eat it. It adds a nice little kick and extra flavor. The tacos are simple with no frills like most Americanized Mexican restaurants. We still really enjoy them. Viva’s chicken is my favorite meat that they offer. It is well seasoned and shredded. The texture feels like it is lightly pan fried after they bake or roast it. The chicken is always very juicy and I’ve never had an experience where it was dry or overcooked. The chicken enchilada is my favorite thing to get. I love their enchilada sauce. It has just enough spice and they pour it liberally all over the enchilada. Their enchiladas are huge and one can be a meal in itself for lighter appetites. They stuff it with your choice of chicken, beef, or steak. The beans are much better than the rice and have a richer flavor. If you’re going to pick one or the other, get the beans. The rice just isn’t anything special to me.
What stands out time after time at Viva is the service. The owner is often there and will always be happy to talk sports with all the customers. He takes the time to know the regulars and it shows. On this visit the owner greeted us, then sat us and handed us the remote to the tv in the back so we could adjust the volume at our leisure while we watched the world cup. You can tell that he takes pride in his business and wants everyone to feel welcome. The waiters are always very quick and efficient. Having visited many times I have never had an order brought out that was incorrect. They have great drink specials that change daily and make it a welcoming environment to come eat, drink, and relax. Honestly, the main reason I continue to frequent Viva is the service. The food is always good, but the service is consistently outstanding. Next time you’re on the northside and craving Mexican, it is worth a stop. While the food is consistently very good; the service is always great.