Due to the tardiness of public transport and who I am as a person, I’m already late to the party. The shopfront from of Los Vida is modest and humble but tumbling down this rabbit-hole reveals a Mexican wonderland unlike any this unaccustomed Alice has ever seen.
At the end of the restaurant on a raised section, a selection of foodies of Instagram, Zomato and blogging fame circle a colourful altar in silence and I wonder if I’ve chosen the worst possible moment to arrive. As it turns out, Octavio Gomez-Haro, Los Vida co-owner was simply giving the low-down on the Day of the Dead live exhibition on display, a commemoration to the 200th anniversary of Jose Maria Morelos, one of Mexico’s revolutionary heroes. Joaquin Garcia Quintana stands sheepishly to the side, the artist responsible for the impressive technicolour ofrenda before us. He speaks Spanish from the heart as Gomez-Haro translates.
The Day of the Dead is one of the most ancient traditions in Mexico where we celebrate in life those that are no longer with us. We set up an alter filled with all the food, drinks and treats that the person who passed away used to love, as an offering to their legacy,
As Octavio says this, I’m instantly reminded of a similar Chinese tradition of offering food and praying incense to our ancestors, albeit in a much more solemn fashion. There’s something about food being a shared experience across cultures, even in life and in death. It’s interesting that long after the speech has ended, a muted presence still hangs over our party. It’s not bad and is actually quite serene which is surprising in and of itself considering the rowdy ariba-ariba venues we’re used to in Sydney. We mingle and make good conversation while waiting for the food to be set up on the far side of the restaurant situated above the entrance. I try to supress gagging every time a fresh round of margheritas appears. It’s a crying shame as a couple of restrained sips reveal it to be a refreshing beverage but let’s just say I’m a little (tech) wrecked on this particular Saturday afternoon.
The stronger members of the group peruse Los Vida’s extensive 10 metre cocktail bar featuring one of Australia’s largest boutique Mezcal and Tequila lists. Straight off the bat I know several names I would have to bring to Los Vida just for its drinking hole.
The food is excellent, the location is art within a work of art and the drinks are spoken for as the table conversation gets that bit louder into the afternoon. What strikes me the most is the hospitality that Gomez-Haro and his team have shown us throughout the day that makes Los Vida not just a business but a home. The setting sun peeps through windows located high near the ceilings casting the most illuminating glow onto our dining table. The girls who have gone all out with flower crowns look ethereal.
Los Vida represents the heart and spirit of vibrant Mexican culture all within various proximities of Sydney CBD. Their spot at Barangaroo marks the fourth Los Vida eatery following a string of other high profile locations such as Wintergarden, Westfield Sydney and Crow’s Nest. While the celebration of Dia de los Muertos for 2015 is past, every day can be a day of celebration when you’re in the welcoming hands of the Los Vida team. Just like Alice, I leave Wonderland feeling a little bit strange, much more worldly and most definitely taller.