Viva Cuba Leeds review: Brilliant tapas will leave you full to the brim

I could pretty much roll out of my front door and end up in Viva Cuba, but to my shame, I’d never visited until now.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 6:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th November 2021, 6:12 pm

The restaurant recently celebrated its 20th birthday and perhaps because it’s become part of the furniture on Kirkstall Road, I’d taken it for granted.

It’s almost full on a Wednesday evening and the clientele is a nice mix, skewing towards the younger - from the merry students celebrating a birthday to couples enjoying a candlelight dinner.

It feels Cuban through and through, with pictures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara dotted around, but it never feels forced - why would it be when the owner’s own grandmother (born in Cuba) got a signature from the young Castro himself, on display in the restaurant?

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A plate of praws at Viva Cuba, Kirkstall Road.

I can’t help but stop and read the Oliver reviews of years gone by which adorn the walls on the way up to the loos.

A recurring theme seems to be YEP reviewers with eyes bigger than their stomachs ordering more food than they could eat and, of course, it happened again.

No minimalist tasting platters here - these are big, bold bowls of food (the average price is around 6.50), but the quality isn’t compromised for it. The menu is meat heavy, but there’s just about enough for vegetarians and vegans.

We go for five dishes, plus some nachos, from a range of almost 50. The Gambas a la Plancha are top drawer - six big, juicy prawns with shells on (I love the tails) with aioli.

Viva Cuba, Kirkstall Road.

The wild mushroom croquettes were probably my favourite dish as they were such an unexpected delight. Crisp on the outside but melt-in-the-mouth on the inside and a fantastic mushroom flavour.

The plate of manchego cheese was overflowing with bread, olives, peppers and quince jelly. The patatas bravas are as you’d expect, though I wish I’d have picked one of the other dishes as there’s only so much you can do with potatoes and tomato sauce.

A special shout-out must be given to the excellent, refreshing sauces that accompany the nachos - so good that the Mojo brand now sells in supermarkets.

Alhambra Especial (Spanish) and Virtuous IPA (Kirkstall, of course) are on draught and there are plenty of cocktails (just don’t ask for Bacadi, Cubans shun it).

This fantastic little restaurant has well and truly earned its place on Kirkstall Road - Viva Cuba!

Factfile

Address: 342 Kirkstall Road, LS4 2DS

Telephone: 0113 275 0888

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 5pm - 10pm

Website: www.vivacubaleeds.co.uk

Scores

Food: 9

Value: 8

Atmosphere: 8

Service: 7

Overall: 8

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