Inside New Mi Vida, a fascinating Mexican restaurant for Logan Circle

Riding the wave of its flashy lighthouse hit on the dock, modern mexican hotspot Mi Vida unveils a tracking location across the city on Monday, August 8.

The three-story second-story outpost, nicknamed Mi Vida 14th Streetbreathes dramatic new life into the 1900s brick building that recently housed Matchbox (1901 14th Street NW). Daily hours begin at 4 p.m. to begin, with brunch and weekday lunch coming next week.

The original Mi Vida on the Wharf marked Mexico City-born celebrity chef Roberto Santibañez’s first splash in DC The collaboration with DC-based Knead Hospitality + Design (Succotash Prime, The Grill, Gatsby, Bistro du Jour) opened in 2018 with rave reviews from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.

The newest 287-seat Mi Vida makes note of its on-the-go nightlife neighborhood with smaller bites and shareable controls that don’t require silverware or a ton of time. New snacks include miso-marinated tuna taquitos and a skewer section (Agave-Marinated Chicken; Chilean Sea Bass with Pumpkin Seed Salsa Macha; and Skirt Steak with Negro Mole and Crispy Shallots).

“There’s a lot of people hanging out here, drinking and clubbing, so we want to offer more pasture and community items,” Knead co-founder Jason Berry told Eater. “You don’t have to sit down and eat a full meal.”

The upscale corner, at approximately 10,000 square feet, has undergone a Mi Vida-style makeover filled with stylish accents from top to bottom. Two dreamy, illuminated bars, a life-size faux tree dotted with 75 hand-painted Oaxacan flowers, ornate balustrades and tiles, star pendant designs, and shimmering rose-gold lights should keep regulars de Wharf feel right at home while enjoying a contemporary Mexican menu filled with new and old favourites.

The 26-foot “Tree of Life” extends seven feet higher than the original on the dock. Knead Hospitality + Design created everyone’s look in collaboration with //3877.
Rey Lopez for Mi Vida

Mi Vida’s best-selling guac, which gets a savory twist of blue cheese, grapes and smoked almonds, joins a new variety of hand-crushed seafood with crab, shrimp, habanero and coriander. The culinary director Santibañez, the founder of the founded family of restaurants in New York, also imports Wharf hits like vibrant ceviches; mole negro soaked enchiladas; stretchy queso fundido speckled with chorizo; and assorted tacos topped with braised pork, marinated steak, achiote-marinated mushrooms and crispy cod.

Mi Vida’s ever-popular La Frozen (tequila, mango, passion fruit, agave and lime juice), on the dock’s menu since day one, also makes its way to Logan Circle with pitcher margaritas and a long list tequila and mezcal options. Mi Vida 14th Street gets the party started with inaugural tequila flights, with four one-ounce installments starting at $49.

Knead’s surf-and-turf sibling, The Grill, serves up a top-selling starter sampler, and the team has taken the same approach at Mi Vida 14th Street. The “Fiesta de Botanas” platter, starting at $47 for three, brings together a selection of Mi Vida’s greatest hits in one large order (shrimp cocktail, steak skewers, chicken taquitos, empanadas, queso fresco, chicharrones , pickled vegetables and habanero and avocado salsas).

“You can try more things this way. It’s a more laid-back approach to snacking in the evening with a margarita in hand,” says Knead co-founder Michael Reginbogin.

Mi Vida’s “Fiesta de Botanas” tray can be oversized for parties of up to five.
Rey Lopez for Mi Vida

Hours run until 11 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays to start. Weekday happy hour (3-6 p.m. and 4 p.m. opening week) includes $7 wine and cocktails, $5 beer, and snack discounts, plus Taco Tuesday Special at 2 for $9.

Larger parties can opt for a $43-per-person dinner that covers dessert apps, and the family-style meal is mandatory for groups of seven to nine. A first Dulce Sueños platter allows foodies to try the five finales, from espresso flan to fried churros with chocolate sauce. Homemade almond cookies and fresh fruit round out the $49 candy sampler.

A new cocktail flight designed for two lets drinkers try four Mi Vida cocktails at once ($52). Colorful carafes lined up on a tray are accompanied by garnishes for a fun and interactive cocktail tasting, with mouth-blown glass goblets given to each participant.

“You can pour your own cocktails throughout the meal and decide which is the favorite,” says Reginbogin.

Options include La Buena Vida (Espolòn Reposado, Grand Marnier, agave, orange) and a fruity Ponche de Lolo with mango infused vodka.

The $19 El Suave cocktail (Maestro Dobel Añejo, Grand Marnier, freshly squeezed lime, orange juice, cinnamon and ginger) is part of his cocktail flight.
Rey Lopez for Mi Vida

Brown leather booths on the mezzanine level overlook a huge hand-painted brick mural.
Rey Lopez for Mi Vida

Knead is no stranger to transforming century-old raw spaces into something beautiful. The team transformed the dilapidated Equitable Bank Building into the Succotash Penn Quarter, which won Eater DC’s 2018 Design of the Year.

“That build stuck with me – this one didn’t beat me as badly,” Reginbogin says.

The aging Logan Circle building has been gutted and updated with modern systems while keeping its exposed brick interior and giant vaulted ceilings intact. Prior to Matchbox’s 10-year run, the storied space housed everything from a pool bar to a jazz club.

“There’s a historic, rustic quality to the space that lends itself beautifully to a Mi Vida,” he says. Unlike the Wharf’s Mi Vida, which took shape inside a sterile glass box, “this one has a story, and the walls have that energy.”

Bright pink corrugated panels hanging overhead – a familiar dockside welcome feature – set the stage for a custom wood and concrete welcome booth. The former Matchbox gas station on the mezzanine level has been transformed into a bar, and a plaster-paneled Hacienda Room serves as a new perch for private events.

A new 75-seat outdoor patio adds sustainable year-round seating with heaters, fans, music, and banquettes running the length of the building. Mi Vida opens on the Strip just as Tico, the neighborhood’s taco and tequila stand, closes to make way for a new Japanese restaurant.

Mi Vida isn’t done expanding to DC A third Mi Vida is set to open in Penn Quarter this winter, in the cavernous space adjacent to Capital One Arena that once housed DC’s longtime Rosa Mexicano (575 7th Street NW).

Mi Vida 14th Street weekend brunch is set to join the mix on Saturday, August 13, with weekday lunch on Monday, August 15. Mi Vida is open for dinner daily at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends. Book a seat on line.

Mi Vida’s weekend brunch kicks off this weekend with huevos rancheros.
Rey Lopez for Mi Vida

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