Buena Vida - Arlington

4.2
153 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.
What 153 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.2based on recent ratings
4.1
food
4.1
service
4.4
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
80% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service. Yummy food. Awesome restaurant week deal. Definitely would go back with friends and family.

R
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The restaurant manger was so hospitable, funny, and charming. On a Saturday night, he treated us (4 girls) like queens once we informed them we were having a girls night! The ambiance is so cute and cozy. The rooftop social club is just as adorable. After a dinner at Buena Vida, no need to go anywhere else other than the top floor for music, drinks, and dancing! Thank you for the Buena Vida experience and wonderful customer service.

AD
Key West
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Food was good with reasonably sized portions. Sleek modern ambiance but very noisy.

OT
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

We had a great brunch here. It was great value for money, the drinks were great, the waiter was prompt and professional and the floor manager was a delight with complementary shots. My group really enjoyed it.

OT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on August 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wow! Raw bar was amazing. Great salsas, margaritas. Will be happy to come back.

TS
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 3

I took advantage of the restaurant week offer. Good Guacamole and a tasty Margarita were the highlights. The Lamb Birria was an interesting dish, but the chilies pretty much obliterated any taste of the lamb. The ice cream filled doughnut holes were a nice finish - but eat them quickly, or you will eating a soggy donut in an ice cream soup.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food, good drinks, great atmosphere.

KC
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing all you can eat brunch with $0.25 drinks! Service was very attentive and our waitress provided great recommendations for menu items. Food is delicious and love the restaurant’s ambiance. Will definitely return!

OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

I was upset that I made a reservation to celebrate my friend’s bday and we asked the hostess to put us in one of the booths that was available. She said it was already reserved, but she would check if it was possible. She never came back.
2 minutes later, another group arrived and she said they could ask which booth they wanted to sit. I wonder why we didn’t have this option if the restaurant wasn’t full and we were celebrating a special occasion?

OT
Houston
1 review
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was great. We were seated promptly

JK
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 4

Food was good, although rather expensive for what it was. We arrived around 6 on a Saturday ( a few minutes before our reservation), we sat by a window, which had a nice view, but consistency had trouble getting our waitresses attention. Food came quickly after orders went in, but ordering refills, getting the dessert menu, etc required actively getting wait staff attention. The food was not much better then other similar restaurants in DC, but pricing was rather high. Might go back, but not rushing to. Much bigger fan of Ambar.

E
Washington DC
13 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent! Everything we tried- from the drinks to the apps to the entrees and desserts were delicious. My only suggestion would be to add 1 vegan or vegetarian entree. They do have a large assortment of smaller vegetable sides that were quite good, but I love a well crafted, creative veggie entree and I know this place could do it.

JT
Washington DC
17 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

Food was bland and overpriced. Service was good, however not too knowledgeable when it comes to menu offerings.

JK
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on July 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and drinks, definitely try the queso

BR
1 review
Dined on July 21, 2019
Overall 1food 5service 5ambience 5

Let me start off with how I really didn't want to have to resort to writing an OpenTable review in order to get my point across. But I was forced to today due to the blatant disrespect and unprofessionalism of this establishment.
So, once upon a time, not too long ago, a girl and her 5 friends all went to brunch on Sunday, July 21st 2019. Little did they know what trifiling-ness was awaiting them in the end. It started off amazing. Food was great, our server was lit, and mimosas were flowing, hunty. What more could a girl ask for? Oh, wait. I know what she didn't ask for. What she didn't ask for is to get charged an additional $84.41 on top of the $41.71 that she already owed for a grand total of $126.12. That's what she didn't ask for. She also didn't ask for the overdraft fee of $37 that her bank hit her with. Thanks for that queeeeeeeens.
Okay, I know what you're thinking cause I was thinking the same thing. Mistakes happen, we're only human, maybe the server accidentally swiped your card for another table's bill. You're absolutely right. And so, I called them on Monday and told the host the situation and she put me on hold to grab the manager. She then came back and said that he was in a meeting and she'd take my information down and he'd call me later. I gave her my information and waited for the call. I'm sure you all at this point in the story have figured out that the call never came. Then the same thing happened on Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday.
But then, I check my account on Friday, and the charge was gone. And I assumed maybe the manager at this point either didn't have the time or the common courtesy to call and apologize for their inadequacy and just decided to refund me. And that's fine, I'll take it. But here I am, looking at my bank account, and guess what I see? A charge for $126.12 from Buena Vida.
And so my only tip for people that go here is......pay cash otherwise you're putting yourself at risk of paying way more than you intended.

BB
Washington DC
33 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

Enter into the energetic first floor of a three level restaurant greeted by friendly hostesses who whisk you up in an elevator, if steps aren't your thing, to the more subdued second floor dining area. Ambiance is breezy and welcoming. A basket of good chips and smoky red and green salsa is a nice introduction to what is to come. Tasty cocktails, the classic margarita and the Oaxaca Nights, arrived with a wonderful plate of guac. We should have ended the meal there and left happy. After looking at the menu online, we had high hopes for our entrees. Disappointing was the rabbit barbacoa and the tuna. I'm not one to leave food on my plate, but this was an exception. The rabbit had a sharp, almost bitter taste to it and the tuna was bland, but improved with an order of pico de gallo made just for us. A refreshing glass of white sangria helped the rabbit go down. The server tried, but was not the most knowledgeable when asked about the composition of the dishes. We checked out the rooftop bar which had a great vibe and plenty of misters for a hot Friday night. Great for a young, energetic crowd. Wish we could have had a better overall impression of the place.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 3food 1service 5ambience 5

It was extremely loud!

AR
Washington DC
23 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Main dishes were good but a bit pricey. Sides were nothing to write home about.

B
Washington DC
33 reviews
Dined on July 17, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

There was confusion with our reservation but the restaurant cheerfully accommodated our party and made us feel very welcome. The table service was outstanding and the cocktails and food very delicious. We will definitely dine here again!

p
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The drinks were interesting and well made. I would recommend the modern margarita. Service was great. I liked the rib eye and chili relleno dishes. We did not get dessert as nothing sparked any interest.

F
Washington DC
101 reviews
Dined on July 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and service. Innovative Mexican cuisine in a cool atmosphere.

F
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 14, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

Inventive takes generally played out well. Service was very spotty,but I guess they are still newly opened. I could not understand what the host was saying.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 14, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

It may have been an off night, but we just were not impressed. Tried guac, four different mains and margaritas. Nothing stood out, and it was very expensive. Will try again, as we really support neighborhoods restaurants.

OT
1 review
Dined on July 13, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

Met friends for drinks and dinner. Started at TTT bar. Really tight seats against the stairwell. Bartenders were nice but were not really attentive to the customers. Dinner was “ok” - food lacked a little seasoning, somewhat bland overall. Server was like a robot. She poured a glass of wine for my friend to test and then took it away after pouring the full glass. If they’re going to toss that test pour out anyway then just give the customer the rest of it. They tended to take partially finished beers when bringing new ones. Let us finish our drinks already lol! Really neat atmosphere but service and food brought the rating down to “average”...

s
1 review
Dined on July 12, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

Drinks were good, food and service was not good. I did not enjoy my night here with my girlfriend.

MH
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on July 12, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Celebrated a birthday. Customer service and ambiance was great. Food was so so

a
Washington DC
26 reviews
Dined on July 12, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

Poor quality of dishes- rabbit didn’t taste like rabbit , tune was over cooked- and inattentive service. This place is enjoying popularity but this will not last long unless management pays attention.

FM
Washington DC
17 reviews
Dined on July 11, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

The restaurant decor is nice, the bar area is busy and they have a good happy hour crowd. But the food was just OK. I expected more after reading such great reviews, but for the money, there are better restaurants in the area. It's fine if you want to hang out with friends over some drinks and appetizers (although their guacamole would be much better with lime juice), but I wouldn't go just for the food.

LM
1 review
Dined on July 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Perfect experience. We made a special request of the Chef/owner who was born in Mexico City to make a dessert to celebrate our daughter who is moving to Mexico City, and it was beyond expectations. I want to have dinner there for every special occasion. This is a WOW.

RF
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 2food 5service 5ambience 1

Excellent food. Noise level so loud I couldn't hear the waiter or other people at my table.

OT
London
1 review
Dined on July 8, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 2

We ate in TTT on the ground floor. The staff were friendly but incredibly slow for both food and drinks. The food was ok but nothing special.

N
1 review
Dined on July 7, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 2

Anyone who describes this as fine Mexican food has not been to Mexico. Either over-salted (guacamole) or flavorless. Expensive and totally disappointing.

OT
Montreal
1 review
Dined on July 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My friend and I had a great time at Buena Vida. We happened to go for brunch on a day when they had a special guest chef who cooked some Spanish classics. We were really impressed with all of the food and the service.

A
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

Food and drink quality is middling. Overall not good value for money.

JB
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Great rooftop with a beach vibe, good drinks and good food.

DH
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Upper level menu is different than the lower level and way overpriced. My salmon dish had some bland green sauce with green peas. I wouldn’t expect to find green peas in a Mexican dish. I was very disappointed in the entree.

DM
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Roo
Our waiter, Stefan was awesome! So was the manager Minda.

R
Washington DC
49 reviews
Dined on July 3, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

Very tasty Mexican food with an intriguing array of spices. Unfortunately the service and kitchen weren’t up to the very good food. My duck enchiladas were served ice cold. A second plate was only lukewarm. They forgot our side dish of plaintains. And the waiter was hard to find at times.

RM
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on July 3, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 4

The mixed drinks seemed watered down and , with the exception of the guacamole, the food was nothing special. While Sietsema apparently liked the dry soup, i thought it tasted like poorly made Rice-a-Roni

AJ
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on July 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 4

When I booked the reservation I did make a note about the seating that was requested and also made it known that it was for a birthday. There was no recognition of that whatsoever, no free birthday dessert offered for my partner(or recommendations/menu for it given), didnt mention it as we weren't out searching for some hand me out you just have this expectation for how a business handles a special moment.

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