Playa (5th Ave., P. Slope)
I've been meaning to check out this Barrio spin-off for a while, and I finally did. For some reason, I had thought it was just a bar with some bar food. (Maybe I was mixing it up with the other Barrio spin-off, Cabana, aroung the corner on President Street.) So I was somewhat surpised to see a full-blown menu....
The menu has some Mexican dishes, but also Cuban sandwiches, arepas, pernil, empanadas, steak with chimichurri, plus various cocktails like mojitos, margaritas, pisco sours, caphirinas (sp?), etc. You know, the now-standard pan-Latino stuff.... I wasn't very hungry at the time, but I tried the guacamole (definitely request "spicy") and an arepa with ropa vieja piled on top. They were both good. Also, if the weather is nice, the tables outdoors and near the window are nice. But I have to say, the waitress was almost comically clueless! The poor bartender and maitre d' had to keep abandoning their posts, to go help her desperate customers....
Overall, I was not blown away by Playa, but I think it's is worth checking out, maybe as a fun place to meet someone for drinks and appetizers.
BTW, does anyone have opinions on Bogota?
we have ordered once from playa and it was fine when we ordered, but we just went a couple of weeks ago and the service was truly terrible. we walked in, a family of 4, no one greeted us and after about 5 minutes we sat down, and then we were sitting for yet another 10 to 15 minutes despite trying to get someone's attention. and then finally when somone would finally talk to us they said they were out of guacamole and a bunch of other things so with 2 hungry kids we left. i have no idea what was the problem but if they had run out of stuff at least they could have told us. it was a sad experience. maybe they are having serious staffing issues. we have liked barrio (another of their restaurants better) though when we visited this spring service again was not as good as in the fall. the food was pretty good though.
We've been to playa probably about 10 times, and bogota maybe 5 or 6. playa clearly has the better quality food and drinks. bogota has some intangible thing that is appealing. price is about the same. I like both places, and usually come away satisfied with the food/service/price combo from both. Honestly, I think a lot of the appeal for me at bogota is being somewhere that is usually full. But we almost always choose playa over bogota (since playa opened) because bogota can be noisy and hard to get into. all but one time at playa we had the same great server - a very tall, thin guy, with curly hair. really added to the experience. the other time, we had someone else and service was similar to some of the other posts. Maybe we always go on the same days of the week, without realizing it. I've tried many dishes on the menu at playa, as well, and have enjoyed each, which is unusual for a restaurant. Fish tacos, asopao, ceviche sampler, roast pork, and a couple others. The sangria is very good too.