Restaurant Review: Buena Vida
Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin takes Mexican to the next level—make that three stories.
The sun is going down on a delightful, cloudless summer evening. Even though it’s a weekday, crowds fill the outside tables at the casual eatery TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila), one of three discrete dining concepts housed in the 8,000-square-foot building at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Fillmore Street. Formerly occupied by La Tasca restaurant, the mega-space is now called La Esquina (The Corner) de Clarendon. In addition to TTT, it includes an upscale second-floor restaurant, Buena Vida (Good Life), and a breathtaking rooftop bar called Buena Vida Social Club.
From the TTT host stand, my husband and I are graciously escorted on the elevator ride up to Buena Vida (the focus of this review), which opened in March. Buena Vida Clarendon is, in fact, the second iteration of a concept brought to life by restaurateur Ivan Iricanin, founder and CEO of Street Guys Hospitality, which also owns the Balkan restaurants Ambar and Baba across the street, as well as Ambar in Washington, D.C., and several restaurants in Serbia. But the two Buena Vidas are not the same. The menu at Buena Vida Silver Spring is small-plate oriented and includes the option of unlimited plates for $49. Buena Vida Clarendon eschews that format, instead offering a more traditional selection of appetizers, entrées and desserts, with no all-you-can-eat deals. [Editor’s Note: Since this review was first published, Buena Vida Clarendon revised its format and now offers and unlimited small plates option during dinner ($35 per person) and brunch ($34 per person.]