New Restaurant: Vivir Looks Ahead to Spring Patio Season

The Mexican market, bakery, and café has carved out a Twin Cities niche
Available at Vivir (from left, clockwise): donut, conchas, empanadas, cemita sandwich
Available at Vivir (from left, clockwise): donut, conchas, empanadas, cemita sandwich

Photo by Kevin Kramer

When COVID-19 kicked into high gear last year, Popol Vuh owner Jami Olson didn’t wait and see if it would survive an industry-wide shakeup. She kept its doors closed and converted the acclaimed restaurant into an entirely new concept. 

Vivir embodies its evocative name (the Spanish word for “to live”) with a sit-and-stay-awhile ethos that’s equal parts Mexican bakery, cafe, and market. Not to mention a proper bar program, complete with draft cocktails, a tightly curated wine menu, and an agave-centric tasting room that’s set to open soon with Twin Cities Tequila founder Todd Mulhair at the helm. 

“That experience is going to be very special and unique to this city,” says Olson, “We’re [also] going to have an amazing patio this spring—fire pits and all—where you’ll want to cheers to surviving this pandemic with a couple of drinks.” 

More than a mere pivot, Vivir carves out its own category within the Twin Cities thanks to the combined efforts of executive chef Jose Alarcon and pastry wizard Ngia Xiong. (Check out an in-depth Q&A with Xiong, delving into her culinary inspirations and name-checking deep-cut selections, here.) Having already slayed the set menu at Popol Vuh and the playful plates at Centro, the pair really gets to run wild at Vivir with mole-and-salt-laced cupcakes, revelatory guava rolls, and a squishy mushroom-cheese-and-kale cemita that becomes a best-in-class breakfast sandwich with a crown of ethereal scrambled eggs.

Adventurous eaters can also cop butterscotch cookies from Chanhassen’s own Harmony Cricket Farm in Vivir’s market, or if that’s pushing your palate too far, there are always several housemade salsas on hand.

1414 Quincy St. NE, Minneapolis