Each time I drive along Cherokee Street, I peer wistfully at Vista Ramen. I’ve been wanting to eat there ever since they opened some 18 months ago. But they don’t serve lunch and that’s when I’m usually in the area, scouring antique shops or soaking up the local ambiance.
But recently, with an out-of-town guest in tow, I headed toward the popular noodle nook located just around the corner from the Cherokee Indian statue that greets pilgrims to the area.
Try the NoWait App
My daughter cautioned me. “They don’t take reservations,” she said. “So you need to download the NoWait app, that tells you how long it will take to get a table and puts you in line even though you’re not there.”
Now I love discovering an app before my kids do, but this time they’d beat me to it. NoWait worked perfectly and we were immediately ushered into one of the 34 seats in the diminutive restaurant. Despite the size, it felt cozy without being cramped.
The open kitchen seemed more like a theater stage, where meal preparation was performed before an appreciative audience. The large, green neon sign that hangs center stage read: “Vista.” As you know, I oft decry the use of long, unpronounceable or meaningless restaurant names. This one checked none of those boxes, which made me wonder about its selection.
I later learned that the three owners, Jeremy and Casey Miller and chef Chris Bork, looked about for a one-word neon sign and found a castaway from a drive-in movie in Illinois. It was love at fight sight.
Upon learning that I was finally dining at Vista, my daughter-in-law, Lisa, advised me on menu selections.
“Get one of the three ramen bowls,” she said. “We prefer the pork Vista Ramen, but have them split it so you can get some side dishes as well.” As to which ones, she said they were all good, but she especially liked the Korean fried chicken sliders, that were easily shared.
We ordered the chicken, as suggested, which came with some heavenly fish sauce pickles. And our server gladly divided a bowl of ramen noodles for us. We also picked the Roasted Carrots served with tamarind chutney, brown butter and fennel shortbread. Wow! What a great way to get your carrot allotment.
Not since dining at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris have I had such an array of flavors dancing so happily across my pallet. Now I’m eager to try more of the small dishes and sides. It’s a short menu so I should be able to work my way through it during my next several visits, ordering such delights as the pork ribs with crab caramel or house-made Thai-style sausages.
With my handy NoWait app in hand and several pleasant dining companions, I’m looking forward to this venture again in the near future. The music was a bit loud for those of “a certain age,” but it’s a concession I’m willing to make.
We finished off the evening sharing a dish of house-made ice cream and a cookie. Ahh. . . the joy!
Vista. 2609 Cherokee Street. Open: Dinner only Mon-Thu 5p-10p; Fri-Sat 5p-11p. Brunch: Sun 10a-1p.