Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Playa Cabana Cantina

Playa Cabana Cantina, 2883 Dundas Street West is the most lively place to eat in The Junction. Neon lights, vintage signs and reclaimed wood adorn the space. Add the loud but not too loud meringue, pitchers of margaritas ($29) and you're ready for a fiesta. 

The menu is quite large and the kitchen is capable on most accounts. Their philosophy is Mexican cuisine does not have to be the calorie-laden, fat inducing cuisine you may think it is. 

Tortillas are handmade with corn (gluten free) and are the right texture. If they are too thin, they crumble. If too thick, the denseness of corn can be like lead. 

Yes, it's just a snack but Playa Cabana's guac is smooth and creamy and the chips are crisp without being oily. 

A bucket of shrimp ($16) in arbol garlic butter is unsurprisingly not a bucket but still a pound of finger licking goodness. 

The tostada with chicken tinga, refried beans, lettuce, guac and creama ($14) is crispy and fresh. The side rice is yellow yet bland.

Rob and Lindsey swear by the short rib tacos ($14/3). AAA Ontario beef is braised with ancho chilies then stuffed into crispy tacos with the usual fixings. 

Unfortunately, the "pizza style" nachos a la plancha ($9/add $4 for chorizo) are a total miss. Tortillas are topped with Oaxacan cheese, beans, creama and guajillo sauce. The chorizo is sliced instead of crumbled and seems more closely related to a hot dog than a sausage. The guajillo tastes like brown ketchup. The tortillas sog under the blanket of cheese. Our server said it was good; he lied. 

They used to bring in the churros but now make their own. What should be finger sized crispy, fried doughnuts covered in sugar and cinnamon are nuggets of under fried dough with a caramel center that does nothing to help their cause. 

Playa Cabana is more tex-mex than Mexican. The flavours are too muted and tame. It's lacking an authenticity to be considered real Mexican. But it's still a fun place to eat and the gringos are having a blast.