It all started with the indecision between having dinner and going to the gym. My plan all along the day had been to go workout but when I got home, sat down on the couch and turned on the TV, I thought food was what I needed. A picture on my facebook feed tagging Mi Vida Café made me curious enough to try it.
Mi Vida Café is a restaurant in the MiMo district in Miami located on the busy streets of Biscayne Boulevard and NE 73rd Street, next to an all women’s gym called Iron Flower Fitness which piqued my interest. I didn’t know what it was at first since the windows are not all the way see through but the name gave it away and immediately I knew it was a gym or a fighting ring. The music was loud but fun. I would have liked to be in there sweating bullets.
At first look, Mi Vida Café appears to be a cute and cozy organic eatery with a crisp and bright indoor dining area. When you first walk in you get the sense the food will be as tasty as its atmosphere. Everything is organic and homemade, including the seitan.
Seitan is the first thing I noticed because it is pretty much everywhere on their menu along with tofu. I’m not a big eater of faux meats but occasionally I like to indulge with a little seitan or organic tofu. Seitan comes in handy mainly when I am craving comfort foods such as a warm and toasty faux BLT. It can be cooked to taste smoky and with a wonderful crispy texture.
I do have to express that it is a bit of a turn off when a restaurant’s menu is loaded with menu items containing meat replacements. The beauty of creating plant based dishes is to show off, and share with others, the variety in which we can enjoy them. The diversity of plant based dishes is endless and it almost seems like we are doing a disservice to others, especially meat eaters, when we keep them from tasting the large array of mouth-watering plant based meals. Also, menus with lots of tofu and seitan items remind me of the 80’s.
On to my review
When I go out to eat, I go hungry and order a lot because I love leftovers that save me from having to cook something to take for lunch to work the next day. I was very excited to order to my heart’s content and proudly arrive at home bringing delectable goods my boyfriend would have been happy to share with me.
As my appetizer, I ordered the Seitan Chimichurri. I love chimichurri sauce. There is something about a tangy mix of onions and parsley that compliments well many Latin dishes. The chimichurri served at Mi Vida Café was mildly spicy and very tasty though not very traditional since it was made with ginger root, but still very tasty. The seitan chunks, though some were perfectly crisped on the outside, were too large and were not served with much chimichurri sauce at all. A large piece of seitan in your mouth has a weird texture. It’s soft and a little chewy but doesn’t shred like regular meat. It kind of reminds me of lab grown meat. I have never had meat made in a lab but I imagine it would taste like seitan in a sci-fi/Halloween kind of way. My suggestion would be to serve smaller, or flatter, pieces of seitan that are nicely grilled on the outside with a more generous serving of chimichurri.
After I had ordered all the food, the chef/owner delivered my “pizza” and said to me: “you must be hungry.” At first I thought nothing of it, then I thought that was kind of rude, but then I remembered I did order a lot of items that may seem a lot of food for one person of my height and size.
The second dish I ordered was the Vegan Living Pizza. $14 was high price to pay for its size and small number of ingredients. It’s organic, yes, but compared to other restaurants that serve organic food, this was on the higher price range. I think you will agree with me when you go try it for yourself and perhaps be disappointed by it. It was disappointing for two reasons. The first and most important reason was that the menu described a yummy sounding asparagus pesto spread but what I got in its place was mashed avocado puree. What troubled me is that no one came to tell me they were out of the asparagus pesto spread and had to use avocado, instead I got avocado toast with a side of deception. They didn’t give me the option to choose something else from the menu.
Reason number two was that this pizza was booooring, plain and lacked flavor. The only exciting ingredient in this avocado sandwich, ahem, pizza, was the crust which was delicious, so kudos on the crust. Even the chopped avocado pieces were hard and unripe. I was curious what the nutty sauce on the plate was and asked my server. She went to ask the chef owner and when she came back she said the chef told her is a part of the dish. So no answer to my simple question.
Up next was the Seitan Sloppy Joes. A simple dish that is probably difficult to screw up, right? Wrong. A mix of sliced mushrooms and large chunks of seitan tossed in a sauce that tasted bitter mixed with a little spice (I think hot sauce?) The only hint of taste was the spice. The bread was a giant ball of undercooked dough baked and cut down the middle. The inside was so heavy and dense and the bottom of the bread was hard and tough to eat.
No dessert for me here. I think three unsatisfying dishes were enough to keep me from ordering more.
I find it very difficult to write about a negative experience in a vegan restaurant because you know the intentions are probably genuine and well-meaning but I realize not all vegan restaurants are created equal and some give plant based foods a bad reputation. If meat eaters were surrounded with more delicious veggie options, they would be eating veggie foods more often.
My experience at Mi Vida Café was very disappointing and I don’t see myself hurrying to go back to eat there unless someone tells me menu items have changed. The fact I was served something different than what was described on the menu was unacceptable. One positive thing I can say about this restaurant is that the food was fresh and organic, but unfortunately that is not enough of a reason to make me want to get in my car and drive there. Perhaps if you are just looking for a simple salad maybe they are good then but if you are the adventurous culinary type don’t come here as you won’t be amazed or satisfied by it.
Mi Vida Cafe
7244 Biscayne Blvd
Miami FL 33138