CLOSED: Viva la Vida

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 20 reviews )



Costanilla de San Andrés 16 (at Plaza de la Paja), Madrid, Spain, 28005

Vegetarian buffet restaurant in the Plaza de la Paja. Offers many choices from salad and cold dishes to hot foods and desserts. Comfortable environment. 2015 Changed to VivaBurger.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, International, Buffet, Fast food, Take-out, European, Spanish

20 Reviews

First Review by Lourdes

Almost junk food... - Edit

I 've read all the negative feedback about Viva la Vida but wanted to have an early opening restaurant for my son who is 2 years old. How bad can it be?
The cold buffet didn't look all that fresh to me so we ordered alla carte. Options are burgers and tortilas, a surprise. We took some of both together with two starters but were surprised that everything was fried in oil. Potatoes, and chees nuggets could have been mcdonalds. My tortilla was a tortilla, a bit of cheese, fried muchrooms and thats about it. My son rated his burger as: too spicy. He didn't touch it. Well, it's all the salt he doesn't know. And also artificial seasoning. You think Viva la vida, that will be a healthy choice. But think again. Maybe the salad bar was the better option, but 13 euro for a plate of what was there doesn't appeal as well. We paid 60 euro for junk food, or something very close to it. We bought some fruit and yoghurt to break down all the salt and fat. Staff was nice, that must be said.

Pros: none

Cons: Greasy food, Expensive, Not much choice

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A disappointing change to a pretentious wine bar - Edit

I have no words to describe how disappointing the new viva la vida is in comparison to the old one. I've been going to this place for many years and have also tried vegans and vegetarians all over Europe, from Sweden to Portugal, Viva La Vida was in my favourites. Unfortunately the place was just revamped into some pretentious wine bar with mediocre tapas. The rations are small and pricey (and VLV was already on the pricey side but the originality of the food and being able to taste many things made up for it); there were very few vegan ones, and they weren't even indicated, most of them have to be made vegan on request. The half of the buffet which was salads is less plentiful, has less interesting stuff and you'll have to pay almost 7€ for a small bowl and 12€ for a bigger one. All the pretty decoration has left as well and been replaced with well, not much except blue paint. I didn't see any desserts, out or on the menu. Most of the place is now occupied by a bar.
The owners and staff didn't seem to care one bit when I politely expressed my slight disappointment at the change, it seems clear this has been turned into a place to make money and no longer tasty veg*an food. Don't bother.

Cons: Expensive, small portions, Vegan not indicated and few options

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Stodgy food - Edit

I feel guilty giving this place a bad review as the cook never seemed to have stopped bringing out food out to the buffet counters. However, this is how our visit went.

The restaurant is a bit difficult to find and is a bit away from the centre. However, we finally found it. It is situated in a dirty area of the city. However, the restuarant itself is clean and brightly coloured.

We were 'greeted' by a fairly numb man. We had to ask how everything worked. He explained to us that we had to pick what we wanted and he would weigh the food to see how much it would cost us.

We proceeded to the counters. There were two counters, a cold one and a warm. There was a good selection so we decided to try small bits of almost everything. It was a huge disappointment. Nearly everything tasted stodgy and no matter which counter it came from, they all tasted lukewarm. Nothing stood out as good.

The cook, like the 'host', was numb and didn't even say 'hola' to us as she passed us. We had to laugh as just above the kitchen door was written '!Sonríe!' (Spanish for 'Smile!').....but nobody there abided by it.

The best part of the meal was the wine.....

Cons: Stodgy food, Numb staff, Expensive

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Great buffet! - Edit

I was very happy about the food by weigh system and tried everything vegan at the buffet. I really liked the salad, they were experimental and very tasty. Vegan aioli and mayo. The food was fresh, well presented and there was a big variety. Very good spiced! I felt repleted and good afterwards. The do fresh squezzed juices at the juice bar.

The place is REALLY colorful. Not my style but I enjoyed it very much, because there was so much love for details.

A pitty they just had one vegan cake.

Price was also totally okay.
English spoken.

Pros: buffet

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Good, expensive food - Edit

The food was really tasty, the buffet offered a large variety of spanish and international food, most of which was vegan. However imo, 2,10€ for 100g buffet is rather expensive. In addition, I could not tell weather or not I paid for the weight of the plate, because the scale showed 1.2 kg and the waiter then calculated something and later I only got the 72€ bill (for 4 persons, excluding drinks).
After we were almost finished, the owner showed up. I suppose it was the owner, because she blithely started eating, picking stuff from the buffet with her fingers...

Pros: Delicious

Cons: Expensive, intransparent pricing, Staff eats with fingers directly from buffet

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Tasty but a bit stressful - Edit

Buffet style, where everything is vegetarian and 50% or so are vegan (but there were no vegan desserts). Depending on the time you get there, you get Midday Menu (10€) and Night Menu (15€). Both include at least 500 gr. of food and a beverage. It's quite stressful because you have to constantly check whether you exceed the weight limit.
The location is great and the decoration is very nice and original.
The waitress tried to be nice (in fact she was) but she made mistakes when counting how much we had left to eat and she ended up too nervous and talking in an inappropiate tone. After arguing 10 minutes she realized she was wrong and gave us one extra drink and some desserts but still, that conversation should not have occurred that way. Moreover, she didn't really know what "vegan" meant...
500 grams of food is not very much and we all finished hungry. The food was very tasty but I find it a bit expensive in terms of quantity. So, if you are starving, I wouldn't say this is the right place.

Pros: Tasty food, Cool place, Mojitos are good

Cons: Weird and annoying serving method, Expensive, Not many vegan options

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not bad ... - Edit

visited this cafe in April of 2013. a small range, the weight of the food. you type what you want and pay for it. one plate came out about 16 euros. not very cheap. not very tasty!but the owners and staff, wonderful people! very responsive!

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Tasty Food - Edit

We ate here the other night. The location is great...right on a square very close to another Veg restaurant. They have food available buffet style. They weigh the plates after you have filled them up. I do think the prices were a bit expensive. However, I also thought the dishes that I tasted had unique flavors and were overall very good.
We make our best effort to only frequent vegetarian restaurants when we travel and if you do the same, you should definitely come here. Try to get a table outside on the might have to wait for a bit. But you can have a drink or juice inside until one opens up.

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don't get me wrong.... - Edit

Don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed the place and the food. The place per se is just beautiful and cosy. The lady managing almost everything upstairs is really kind. The food was good. But I got like the impression that it was a bit more expensive than it should be, both in terms of quantity and quality you have access to. if I remember it right, 100 grams cost 2,50 euros... and this spoils the idea I have of what a "buffet" should be, which is surely not doing maths while selecting what to eat, nor figuring out every few seconds how much does your plate weigh...

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Good place and food - Edit

Peculiar type for billing: You pay 10 € for 500 g of food and 2.5€ every 100 g you added. Buffet with dozens of vegetarian and vegan products. You must return more times to eat all of them. Very friendly and enthusiast owner. Good ambience and food. Spacious place. Private room 'virtual jarden' underground for events. Needs to mark vegan food much better.

Pros: Friendly, Cheap, Quality

Cons: None

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Pricey but worth it - Edit

I have been here multiple times and I have always left really happy. Not only does the place have a very earthy and colorful atmosphere, but the food is also delicious. The buffet is by weight, so be careful with what you choose. It is indeed not a place to come if you are looking to get full (unless you have a lot of money). But you can easily sample a bit of everything for around 10 euro. It's also an excellent place to come for dessert (they have delicious vegan cakes) and everything is clearly labeled. It has an ideal location, and would definitely recommend it!

Pros: nice vibe, good food, many vegan options

Cons: pricey

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Quick, delicious food with a variety of options - Edit

Tucked away on a side street, this charming locale offers a lovely lunch buffet. (I haven't gone in the evening yet, so I am not familiar with the dinner set up.) While I'm usually not a fan of buffets, the food was delicious. Everything was clearly prepared fresh and made with high quality ingredients. The selection includes a variety of hot and uncooked/cold dishes. The food is priced based on weight and because it's a buffet, you can easily stop in for a quick bite or linger and enjoy the funky ambiance and chat with the friendly staff. I can recommend trying the desserts too, especially the carrot cake!

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Great Variety & Great Atmosphere - Edit

A great choice for veggies, vegans and carnivores too. The buffet has a lot of variety, great foods and interesting combinations. They also present some traditional Spanish dishes in a vegetarian style. A great way to get to experience the flavors of some traditional dishes. The buffet is well marked vegetarian or vegan. Incredible juices and a great selection of liquor. The people are super friendly and the decor is fun and funky. Great value. An absolute must try in Madrid!

Pros: Variety, Taste, Value

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Nice food - Edit

We were yesterday at this charming place. You have a buffet there. Everything was great: The location, the food, the staff. We had an menu for 10 Euro. But you could also weigh your food, then you have to pay about 2 Euro per 100g.
The only strange thing was that when you chose the menu, you also have to weigh your food and it has to be under 500g, that was a little bit strange. All in all I would go there again.

Pros: Good Quality, Good variety, Sitting outside

Cons: expensive

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Decent buffet - Edit

This is one of those pay-by-weight buffets. There's a huge selection of food to choose from, including hot and cold mains, soups, salad, and desserts. The food is pretty good but the prices are quite high compared to the cheap menu del dia lunches that you can get elsewhere. Vegan options are not marked, and since it's self service it's hard to find staff to tell you what is and isn't vegan.

Pros: Good selection, Wifi

Cons: Expensive, Vegan options not marked

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Wow! It's like a better, cheaper Tibits (London). - Edit

My friend and I chanced upon this branch of Viva La Vida quite by accident after leaving El Elstragon (disappointed). I wish we'd gone here instead then. I have since been here twice and loved it both times. The Buffet has an amazing range of Spanish vegan items, hot and cold. The price is according to weight, so unlike a greasy typical buffet, you are not penalised for being a light eater. There are copious amounts of drinks and desserts too, and ample seating.
VEGAN SUSHI ROLLS too, need I say more?

Pros: Range, Price, Seating

Cons: Desserts not vegan

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Be careful how much you pile on your plate! - Edit

This place is lovely and cosy with lots of seats (you can sit downstairs too). The buffet has a wide variety, however vegan options are not marked and I think we had a few things (accidentally) that might have had cheese or butter in them. Even though I was being careful to avoid any labels that said queso or huevo! I'm not sure they list all of the ingredients in some things. As they weigh your plate you really have to be careful not to overload your plate, it can get expensive! It's a really nice place to hang out with a bottle of wine, we ended up coming here twice. El Estragon is just across the square from here so if you stay in the La Latina neighbourhood, as we did, you have two veggie options right on your doorstep.

Pros: Lots of choices, Nice bottles of wine for 13e, Good place just to chill out

Cons: Vegan food not marked, Can be expensive

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Mildly Dissapointing Despite Good Variety - Edit

This will the first place recommended to you when you ask for vegetarian cuisine in Madrid. I've had take out at the Huertas location before, but yesterday was my first foray to the sit-down restaraunt in La Latina.

This is a self service restaraunt where you pay by weight, it is 2.5 euro for 100 grams. I am pretty sure (but not certain) that the weight includes the plate you use. My wife had a heaping plate for 13 euro, while I had a modest plate for 9. Drinks are garishly overpriced: my small bottle of grape juice (child sized) was euro 2.50. The excuse is organic ingredients, but that really should only apply to the beer and wine, not the juice and water.

There are two bars of food that are each about the size of a normal salad bar in the US (say, Bertuccis). The main selling point of the joint is variety, which is delivered in spades. To name a few obvious ones, there were 4 quiches, 4 styles of croquettes, several lasagnas, california/thai/sushi rolls, nicely mixed paella, and a variety of straight vegetable plates. There should have been veggie burgers but they were not forthcoming with replacing the empty plate. All in, you probably have 40 main dishes to choose from. There were about 15 to 20 desserts, mostly cakes and pies. You are not likely to find this level of vegetarian variety anywhere else in the city.

But, alas, the dissapointing part. The food was overall good, but only very mildly seasoned so often on the bland side. The temperature on the dishes that should have been hot was off, so most (maybe all) the food was lukewarm upon serving. Restocking of the good stuff was spotty. And it will be pretty much impossible to dine for less than 9 euro - 11 if you buy a drink. My opinion was that was a bit steep for self service buffett in this part of town. You are clearly paying for the variety.

The staff is friendly, the decor is nice, and the place is clean and has wifi. It gets a bit smokey downstairs. They do a good job of getting empty plates off the table. I wished they shut the ugly aseos.

So the verdict? If you have a group that all wants different stuff (especially if some are vegans), and you want a casual dining experience rather than service, and are going to order water for your drink, then this is one of the top choices in town. But if you don't need a zillion choices and want a reliably hot veg meal at a reasonable price, you're better off at one of the nearby veg places with sit down service.

Pros: Great Variety, Lots of Vegan, Good food overall

Cons: A bit pricey, Lukewarm "hot" dishes, Overpriced drinks

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Don't come starving - Edit

Quite good food, nice decor and background music. Lots of choices, but the problem is they don't indicate which ones are vegan and all food description is in Spanish. I had a slice of polenta topped with mushrooms, and although the description didn't say queso/leche, it did have a taste of cheese. At a price of €2.1 per 100g, I'd recommend coming here for a light meal; otherwise it's pretty easy to go overboard and pick up a little bit of everything, then next thing you know you'll be paying €10++ for all this prepared not-so-fresh food.

P.S. Actually I had dropped by their other location on C/ de las Huertas before ending up eating here. That location seemed much smaller and didn't have as wide of a selection, but they sell groceries over there.

Pros: tasty, cute setting

Cons: overpriced, food not indicated

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I am local and eat there all the time - Edit

Firstly, let me state that I am American, have lived in Madrid for over twenty years, and am vegan/50% raw vegan. I love Viva la Vida. The decor is so lively and pleasing that I have thought about decorating my house in the same way. The food is all buffet food and absolutely delicious. I know many "omnis" who eat there and love it. I LOVE that it takes maximum ten minutes from arrival to scarfing down piles of food (great when you're starving!). A sizeable plate of food runs about 10-12 euros. It might seem expensive, but it is still cheaper than a restaurant. There is organic beer and wine, the beer costing only about 2.50 euros. You can sit outside on the lovely and popular square, Plaza de la Paja, a bit tucked away and not as touristy as other places. I love that you can eat as little or as much as you want, and try 20 different things without having to order 20 different dishes. Plus, you can occupy a table all night long if you want to (no one rushes you out); my girlfriends and I have started meeting here instead of at someone's house, because it's just as pleasant and creates no work (unlike being a host). Everyone stands in line and pays for their own food, so no issues about splitting the bill. I love the curried vegetables, vegetarian lasagna, polenta, chickpea salads, veg nori rolls, etc. For vegans and raw vegans, options are more limited, but you do have options. Admittedly, a lot of the food is probably fairly high fat. I go there when I want to treat myself and pig out, but that's just me (no one is forcing me to choose all the high fat options). But everyone loves the food here! There is pleasing decor, a varied and interesting crowd, ease of access, delicious food... all very affordable. Keep in mind that organic ingredients are significantly more expensive. A lot of people on weekends. Smoking section downstairs, and sometimes music. It is a great alternative to a typical restaurant format. In short, it is definitely worth checking out at least once... you might love it as much as I and (almost) everyone else do!

Pros: great food, vaguely hip, not expensive

Cons: sometimes you don't want buffet

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