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La Viga Restaurant Brings New Flavors to Downtown

The seafood and 'cocina Latina' restaurant blends flavorful Mexican cuisine with unique seafood recipes and flavors.

Redwood City's newest downtown restaurant, La Viga, is not your average Mexican restaurant.

Owner, manager and head chef extraordinaire Manuel Martinez has filled his new restaurant's menu with original recipes that blend traditional Mexican dishes with fresh seafood and unique flavor combinations. Manuel said he sources fresh local, seasonal, sustainable and organic ingredients to create innovative dishes.

"La Viga's food is unique because it all comes out of my own recipes," Martinez told Patch. "And, I like to change up the flavors a lot."

La Viga's menu features nearly every kind of seafood one can imagine, including snapper, shrimp, coconut-crusted prawns, calamari, mahi mahi, salmon and even octopus. Other favorites include pork, grilled flap meat, roast chicken and more. For dessert, diners can choose from flan and homemade churros with chocolate sauce.

Martinez said some of the most popular dishes so far have been the ceviches de dorado, featuring mahi mahi; the tacos de cochinita, featuring Yucatan-braised pork; fajitas de camarones, featuring broiled prawns; caldo de mariscos, which is an original seafood stew; and his paella mixta, which features chorizo, prawns, chicken, mussels and saffron rice.

Another popular item on the menu is one of Martinez's own inventions, his aguas frescas, which are fresh, handcrafted fruit drinks, which come in flavors like guava, mango, lime, tamarind and "Jamaica."

If Chef Martinez' name sounds familiar, that's because he has long roots in Bay Area fine dining, having previously worked as a chef for restaurants like Left Bank in Menlo Park, Reposado in Palo Alto, Palacio in Los Gatos where he designed the menu, and even Brigitte's French Restaurant in Santa Clara. Finally, he has his own establishment.

Martinez said that, though business has been a little slow since they first opened their doors on April 12 - as people are just learning of their existence - that every customer has appeared to really enjoy the food so far.

"Everyone really seems to enjoy what they have, and go away happy," he said.

In fact, Patch first learned of La Viga through a tip from reader Wayne Wong.

"I went there [on April 12], prompted by a San Jose Mercury blurb, and I was so impressed, I had to Yelp it - the first such post from me in years," he said. "La Viga offers upscale quality at bargain prices."

In his Yelp review, Wong wrote, "I was first memorized by the beautifully presented dishes, then, once I had a taste, was too busy eating to look up and even notice they had two flatscreen TVs. It all was delicious! May La Viga live long and prosper - and as long as Chef Martinez is around, I'm sure it will."

La Viga's small but tastefully decorated dining room features long, family-style, stained harwood tables and two large flat screen TVs that are often broadcasting the latest football (soccer) games from around the world.

La Viga is located at 1772 Broadway St. near the corner of Maple Street, near the downtown arch. Visit the restaurant's website and Facebook page, or call 650-679-8141.

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Ralph Garcia April 30, 2012 at 05:31 PM
We have eaten here twice in less than a week, that should say how good it is. When I saw Clam Chowder(I'm a big lover of Clam chowder) on the menue I thought " In a Mexican Resturant?" It was the BEST Clam Chowder I have ever had. Took my Mother the second time and she agreed on the Clam Chowder. Shrimp Taco Great. Go there and be treated to a great meal at a decent price. Enjoy.
wotten1 May 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM
LOL! One sip of chowder also hooked me on La Viga! Have you tried any of their amazingly ceviches? "Delicious" doesn't begin to describe the incredible flavors. To ensure they get through start-up period when people aren't aware of this Redwood City gem, it might be helpful to post your thoughts at yelp.com
Rosanne May 02, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Stopped in to try La Viga with friends and family and we all just loved it! Inventive tacos, fresh seafood and bright and happy service. All well priced. Not a big fan of wooden table with benches as chairs would be more comfortable but forgot it quickly as we devoured our terrific meal
Jane June 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Wow! This story on La Viga caught my eye a few weeks ago and then our neighbors started raving about their visits there so we went last night. Wow! It was worth the couple blocks stroll from downtown. The sangria! The cerviche! The dinner platters! The kind and genuine staff and owner / chef! We will be back soon. And encourage others to go too.
Ernie June 10, 2012 at 04:56 PM
My dish was so good that I was tempted to ask for a bite from the rest of my friend's dishes so I could sample their cuisine...Every dish was SPOT ON! Trust me when I say, this is a MUST try at least once.
wotten1 June 11, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Wow! As an early La Viga fan, I'm delighted to see all the positive comments posted here---but then, can't imagine any negative ones once its delicious dishes, super service and casual yet friendly ambiance has been experienced. A Yelper recently described the cuisine as upscale bordering on gourmet and I can't agree more except to add it's also great for family dining!

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