The Place: A transplant from Westboro, Viva Loca is a home-style café and fine food gift shop featuring fresh baked goods and locally-produced gourmet treats. It replaces The Local Bar run by Thyme & Again Encore, a tapas-style bar that first occupied the lobby of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre when it opened in 2007.
The Deal: The food is simple and rather predictable but prepared fresh to order in its tiny open kitchen. The space is bright and inviting, with huge windows and fun colours.
The Crowd: People in search of a quick bite or coffee break who are tired of waiting in line at the West Wellington Bridgehead or Thyme & Again. In summertime, its Tracy’s ice cream sign attracted passersby.
The Dish: This time of year, fresh, homemade soups have tremendous appeal. The selection here changes daily: just look on the counter for a Soup of the Day sign and its ingredients. On a recent visit it was Fagioli, an Italian-style tomato and vegetable bean soup with rotini pasta. A steaming bowlful is served with a few slices of Art-Is-In bread or can be combined with half of a panini (good choices include tomato, cheese and pesto or ham, asparagas and cheese) served on a toasted 12-grain fennel Art-Is-In bun. There is also a selection of salads, the usual suspects: green, chicken Caesar, Greek as well as couscous and bean and a gluten-free Greek pasta salad. There’s all kinds of egg dishes too – omelettes, quiche, and breakfast sandwiches. Oat and whole wheat pancakes are available on weekends.
The Cost: Half panini & a cup of soup or small salad: $5.25
Viva Loca, 1233 Wellington Street. West (at Holland) 613-236-5192 x 315, www.vivaloca.ca