Sin Vida is a new Mexican themed restaurant in the Valley’s M&A lane. Drawing inspiration from Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Sin Vida is steering away from the sombreros and moustaches in favour of a less stereotypically Mexican theme: mood lighting and a mysterious, darker environment. A gorgeous mural of Frieda Kahlo adorns one wall and scattered amongst the venue are Mexican dolls and altars honouring the dead, referencing the spiritual journey taken through Dia de los Muertos. Not only is this holiday an incredibly fun phrase to say and has me wanting to dance à la Annie from Community, but it also sets the mood of the restaurant perfectly. The celebratory daiquiris and tacos seem like an obvious decision to make. Whilst the theme is perfect, however, it cannot hide the fact that the food is rather lacklustre. Although there were some highlights on the menu, there were also other sections that need work.
The cocktail menu is a blast. Not only are there multiple flavours of margarita’s (wahoo!), but the price ranges from $12-16, making these some of the cheaper cocktails in the valley. I tried the Bootleg daiquiri and boy was it satisfying. With spiced rum and freshly cut ginger, I could easily have drunk a whole jug.
Another highlight of the night were the tacos. At $5.50 each, you could fill your belly munching your way through these bad boys. The Carne de Pecho was delicious with slow cooked beef brisket that was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth. The beef was rolled up with a vibrant pico de gallo (tomato salsa) and a grilled corn mayo.
Another favourite taco was the De Camaron; crumbed king prawns with an apple slaw and jalapeno relish. The sides didn’t feature too heavily in this one but it was saved by the prawns, which were plump and juicy and had the perfect layer of deep fried, crunchy goodness.
Whilst Sin Vida hit all the right notes with their atmosphere and drinks, they did fall a bit short on the food. The main problem seemed to be the produce itself. Whilst the guacamole was seasoned well, the avocado was stringy and lumpy in parts. As guac is usually the first thing I order when visiting a Mexican restaurant, it was upsetting that such a staple dish wasn’t done perfectly. Similarly, the vegetables in the tacos didn’t pack a punch and seemed inconsequential to the dish. Another taco, which I ordered solely because it included coriander, disappointed on that very front as the coriander was tasteless and crunchy.
The seafood opera, of mussels, clams, prawns and market fish, also disappointed, for although the seafood was cooked well, the tomato sauce was too rich and took over the flavour profile of the dish. Surprisingly, however, the fresh tomatoes mixed with the seafood weren’t ripe and were dry amongst the overly rich sauce. Tasting more Spanish than Mexican, this dish lacked the citrus or seasoning that would have strengthened the flavours of the seafood and brought the whole plate into harmony.
It seems that Sin Vida was trying to steer away from the conventional, stereotypical version of Mexican restaurants. Instead of mariachi bands and fiesta style decorations, they took a darker, more mysterious route for their interior. In the food itself, they steered away from the conventional Mexican trope of having guacamole, lime and coriander in every dish, in an attempt to provide something different and to stand out from the crowd. It is here, however, that they could potentially lose that crowd.
Sin Vida has strong foundations of a great atmosphere, friendly service and a killer cocktail menu. Whilst there are some tasty dishes, there are definitely others that need an edit. A focus on fresher produce and balanced flavours should be paramount if Sin Vida wants to provide competitive Mexican cuisine. Despite this not being one of my favourite dining experiences, I would return with the hope that their food is more lively so that we could properly celebrate Dia de los Muertos.