In the Kitchen

Pure Poblano

Heading Downtown for the flavors of Puebla state


Give us the low-down on your restaurant.
Viva Mexico is a fun, friendly restaurant serving Mexican food in downtown Providence, seven days a week. We’re family-owned. I work together with my wife Elia and my sons Jose Jr. and Andres. We split the work, whether it’s bartending, waiting tables, washing dishes or cooking. We want our customers to feel like family as well. You can come to Viva Mexico for a fun late night drink and snack with friends, but the restaurant is also family-friendly and good for large groups.

Have you owned restaurants in the past, or is this your first?
I started out with a taco truck. We would park at the old flea market on Atwells Avenue, in Eagle Square (before it was renovated). Our regular customers talked us into starting a restaurant, so we began with a five-table restaurant on Atwells. We sold that and bought a multi-family, which we renovated to include a restaurant on the first floor – Mexico Garibaldi at 948 Atwells. We decided to open Viva Mexico on September 16 – that’s Mexican independence day.

Is the food served at Viva Mexico from a specific region? 
Yes, the food we serve is from the Puebla region – Poblano cuisine. All of the dishes are made from my wife’s recipes. We prepare everything from scratch the same day; that’s why we’re open for breakfast (with both Mexican and American items). We’re here anyway preparing food, so we might as well welcome the public for a good start to their day.

What are some of your popular dishes?
My wife’s mole sauce is popular. It took her over 10 years to perfect the recipe. We sell it to stores and restaurants – we even ship some to New York. It’s a complicated recipe, which includes dried peppers, chocolate, almonds and a lot of spices. Another favorite is Chiles Rellenos – peppers stuffed with chicken or cheese. Also, our enchiladas are a big hit. They’re stuffed with pulled chicken and have a spicy sauce made with jalapenos and tomatillos, which has a nice kick.

What are some of the beverages you serve?
We make our own juices from scratch. Our horchata is very popular – it’s a sweet drink made with cinnamon, rice and condensed milk. Agua de Jamaica is made from hibiscus flowers. Tamarindo is a sweet and sour drink made from the tamarind fruit. We also have alcohol enhanced versions of the first two. We get a lot of positive feedback on our margaritas. We use fresh squeezed limes and have 60 different types of tequila.

What are your weekly specials?
In addition to Margarita Mondays, we have Taco Tuesdays, $3 burritos on Thursdays (along with live Flamenco music) and live Mariachi on Fridays.