Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill

Relatively new to Mini-Cassia is the Costa Vida restaurant located in the shopping complex that has popped up on the old mall property. This is a chain restaurant that has been growing for years and recently our market met the criteria for having enough population for this restaurant to come to town.

Ambiance: When you enter Costa Vida you’ll notice a number of well appointed architectural enhancements that tell you this is a cookie cutter restaurant. This doesn’t make it a bad place to eat, just that it looks pretty much like every other Costa Vida store that has ever opened. This theme leaning on their Mexican cuisine puts you in a comfortable mood to try what’s on the menu.

Seating: You will find two types of seating, regular tables and the taller height tables that are common in restaurants these days. The chairs are very comfortable with padding that treats your tush with a soft place to enjoy your meal. The table we sat at was clean, something we expect when we eat out but don’t always find. Costa Vida has enough staff that someone is always in the dining area cleaning up tables for the next wave of diners.

Noise: We were in the restaurant at about two in the afternoon, past the lunch rush but that didn’t make a difference in the noise level. I would suspect about half the dining room was full and the noise level was substantial. There seemed to be a battle between the people talking and the music coming in over the speakers playing Latin music. Whenever there is a competition between people talking and music playing you’ll find a restaurant that’s harder to have a conversation in.

Bathrooms: Because this is a new restaurant in a new building, their bathrooms were pristine. There are separate men’s and women’s bathrooms and they are exactly what you would want when in a public place – clean and private. They aren’t huge, however, so there is an occupancy level of one, which suits me just fine.

Service: Costa Vida is on the high end of fast food which means there isn’t much service to report on. We found the ordering line to be rather quick and you’ll be able to see your food come together right before your eyes. You need to be an active participant as the line progresses because there are many choices you’ll need to make. Your soft drinks are self-serve making it easy to get a refill, though you will have to do it yourself.

Food: We found the food to be quite delicious. Coming from a cookie-cutter chain restaurant beginning, Costa Vida is consistent in their approach to your dining experience. You walk through a line similar to what you would see with a Subway restaurant, customizing your dinner as the tin pie pan your food is built in slides down the line. Serving your food in a tin like this enables them to pile your toppings high without them falling apart and also makes it easy to put a top on it and take home whatever you can’t eat at the restaurant. You’ll pick between three different types of beans, dressings, meats and cheese as your meal is built.

We ordered the small serving which was plenty of food. My Sweet Pork Salad was terrific, though I think they were a little stingy on the amount of meat I got. Coming along behind me, Cheryl got their small Raspberry Chicken Salad which from my point of view got twice the meat than what was placed on mine. It seems to be a little arbitrary on how much meat is added to your meal as it comes down the assembly line. Thankfully, this doesn’t impact the taste of the food.

Value: Costa Vida is on the high end of cost you’ll pay for your meal. Our two small dishes and two drinks came to just under $20, which is a little high for fast food lunch. The soft drinks are $2.39 compared to just .99 cents at McDonalds. My wife would go back every day if it were up to her which makes for a pretty good endorsement. Come hungry because you will be served plenty to fill your tummy with tasty food.

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