Chef/Owner: David Vargas 

David Vargas, Chef/Owner, Vida Cantina brings his Mexican heritage and appreciation for local seasonal New England product to every plate at Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, NH. David grew up in Southern CA and spent time in Mexico as an exchange student. His mother is from Guadalajara, his father from Jalisco, and it was important to his family that David appreciate his heritage. Appreciate it he does indeed at Vida Cantina, his first restaurant, where with each dish he is “elevating our understanding of what Mexican food is or should be, while elevating our understanding of what New England cuisine is or should be” according to the December 2015 review by The Portsmouth Herald.

David first learned his craft in his family’s Mexican restaurant, and then in the kitchens of Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier at Arrows and MC Perkins Cove. David chose to stay in New England, and became Chef/Owner of Vida Cantina in 2014. Known for his pigs head platters, daily seasonal menus, tasty array of tacos and for co-founding The Chefs After Dark Series, David is one of Portsmouth’s talented chefs creating a vibrant restaurant revolution catching the attention of the national food scene. Follow: @dvchef


Hot New Restaurant, NH Magazine

Best New Restaurant, Taste Magazine

Best Mexican Brunch, NH Magazine

Best Chef, Seacoast, Nominee, Spotlight Awards

One of the Top Ten Restaurants in the Greater New England Region, The Portsmouth Herald

Top Portsmouth Restaurants Worth The Drive, Eater Maine


chef de cuisine: Linda Theth

Chef de Cuisine, Linda Theth grew up in Seacoast NH thanks to her immigrant parents for settling here. As a first generation American, her culinary tastes and inspiration spans more than borders; Vida Cantina was her key to discovering not only Mexican food, but also the passion it takes to be part of a restaurant family.

She found her way to the Cantina as an intern via her alma mater, Johnson and Wales University of Rhode Island. This opportunity could not have been paved without Chef Joe Pirkola of Dover High School’s Career Technical Center. His lessons in basic kitchen skills and commercial cooking would help secure her upward mobility in a singular location: intern in 2015, to prep cook, to line cook, to Sous Chef in 2016 alongside Chef “Dad” Dave Vargas - the mentor of all mentors. 

Fast forward to March 2018, where her official promotion to CDC flourished in light of the continuous growth this company continues to bring. Chef Linda excitedly contributes to the Vida Fam’s progressional success with her Southeast Asian roots, her “no-nonsense” attitude, and willingness to never stop learning.