Lower Fillmore Street is already a melting pot of cultures and flavors. Now mixing in is a bit of tropical flavor—with essences of Miami, Cuba, and Africa—thanks to the new fast-casual eatery Isla Vida.
From the team behind Farmerbrown—chef Jay Foster, Matthew Washington, and Erin Traylor—this new Caribbean soul-food joint aims to showcase the best of the tropics.
Order from the walk-up counter and then find yourself a seat. While you wait, take a peek into the kitchen for a look at their custom-built rotisserie grill.
It would be tough not to smile while inside this sunny little space—its pink-and-green fern-patterned ceiling, hanging plants, and lively semi-open kitchen all signal a good time's coming. And there's nothing sad about the hearty plates of wood-fired jerk chicken, thick ham-and-pork Cubano sandwiches, and aromatic dishes of whole roasted red snapper either. Tostones (crispy plantains), maduras (sweet plantains), and congri (rice and black beans) are savory supporting sides.
The friendly trio at the helm also shares a passion for community, and it's their hope that Isla Vida will enliven the neighborhood by providing a space for locals to gather; the group also intends to hire, train, and mentor people from within the community, and hopes to attract more black-owned businesses back to the Fillmore district.
On nice days, expect their outdoor patio to fill up quickly.
// Isla Vida, 1325 Fillmore St. (Fillmore), islavidasf.com/