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Playa Cabana, Mexican -111 Dupont, a quick review

AzulH Jan 18, 2012 08:11 AM

I was surprised to find nobody else had posted some comment on this restaurant here already.

It is a small Mexican restaurant just East of Davenport on the North side of Dupont close to the corner flower nursery.

When we went at 8.15 PM last night, Tuesday, it was bustling, crowded and noisy. The service was cheerful and efficient.

The food was very tasty, more authentic than most other Mexican establishments. The portions were not large. In particular, we enjoyed the Chile Rellenos, Tacos Carnitas, and the Nachos. (These are just two small corn torillas with tasty toppings – not a bowl full of commercial corn chips). There is also a selection of burritos. The full menu is to be found on the website below.

There is a selection of margaritas, tequilas, and fairly standard wine list.

We found it a little bit expensive for what we got – $8-$12 appetisers, $17 –$24 mains but it was interesting, well-prepared and enjoyable.


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  1. estufarian RE: AzulH Jan 18, 2012 08:37 AM

    It's actually on the SOUTH side (too much tequila?).

    1. t
      Tatai RE: AzulH Jan 18, 2012 11:41 AM

      There's also a typo in the website you posted. Should be http://www.playacabana.ca/ Thanks for the review. Looking forward to checking this out. The menu looks interesting and it's great to see that so much of what they serve is made from scratch and that many ingredients, including vegetables and cheeses, are locally sourced. There's added expense in doing things this way, hence the possibly inflated prices. You do get what you pay for! And I don't mind paying extra for quality.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tatai
        1sweetpea RE: Tatai Jan 18, 2012 02:13 PM

        $13 for 3 tacos de carnitas or pastor? Wow! Those had better be some loaded tacos. I can get 3 tacos, with a side of rice and beans, for $4.75 in Detroit (I live in Windsor). Granted, it's typical taqueria ambiance and level of service, but still ...

        I'm happy to pay twice as much to have a diverse and creative menu, which Playa Cabana seems to have. I'm looking forward to reading positive reviews with specific comments about dishes, before venturing there next time I'm in Toronto. I must admit, tacos de pulpo sound interesting.

        1. re: 1sweetpea
          Bogels RE: 1sweetpea Nov 21, 2013 10:24 AM

          "In Detroit"...nuff said.

      2. Kagemusha RE: AzulH Jan 18, 2012 02:12 PM

        Someday, maybe...This just doesn't cut it.

        I quit at the15 buck burrito.

        1. d
          downtown RE: AzulH Jan 18, 2012 05:01 PM

          The food is great, the staff is terrific and have a great attitude and the vibe is cool. Very neighbourhoody. I have been twice and have had memorable experiences each time. If you want a cheap burrito, got for fast food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: downtown
            Kagemusha RE: downtown Jan 19, 2012 01:06 PM

            Looks like another stab at TO "authentic" Mexican where that means "haute TexMex+Central American+a smidgeon of Bayless+Latin American fusion-y whatever+they don't get it, anyway+pricey gets respect." That's what their menu screams.

            1. re: Kagemusha
              downtown RE: Kagemusha Jan 21, 2012 01:38 PM

              Let us know what you think of the food once you have eaten there.

              1. re: Kagemusha
                neighborguy RE: Kagemusha Aug 16, 2012 03:14 PM

                Not sure why Toronto can't have at least a single taqueria.

            2. foodyDudey RE: AzulH Jan 21, 2012 02:47 PM

              The owner if this place used to run Chimichanga Mexican grill & tequila bar in Yorkville. The reviews for that place are very mixed and mainly thumbs down.

              I just read about a new Mexican place at Danforth and Broadview, run by the same owners as Embrujo Flamenco. The menu looks much more interesting - they even have Beef Brain Corn Empanadas ! Yowsers!


              Here is the website: http://www.pachuco.ca/

              1. p
                Pincus RE: AzulH Jan 24, 2012 09:06 AM

                Re-seared pinto beans, because you can't charge $2 for re-fried pinto beans.

                That bit of pretentiousness on the menu aside, the menu doesn't look bad. I'd try it before I passed judgement.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pincus
                  KitchenVoodoo RE: Pincus Aug 16, 2012 04:28 PM

                  "Re-seared" pinto beans... really?
                  We should launch a survey to ID the top ten most pretensiously worded menu items in Toronto.

                  1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                    piccola RE: KitchenVoodoo Aug 17, 2012 02:40 AM

                    Besides, it's not really accurate -- searing beans is nearly impossible, much less doing it twice.

                  2. re: Pincus
                    DDD RE: Pincus Aug 16, 2012 06:05 PM

                    I've been a couple of times - some of our friends really like this place. While the service is quite friendly - I just don't get it. The food is fine, but really not too exciting. None of the dishes we had were bad, but very few were very good. The flautas were decent (but not as good as Mex-I-Can in Hamilton) and the tacos were ok (but not as good as Grand Electric or Rebozos).

                  3. y
                    ylsf RE: AzulH Aug 16, 2012 09:25 AM

                    Any recent reviews? Now Magazine review is pretty mediocre :

                    Thought I had some good things about it before, was looking forward to trying it at some point.... maybe not so much anymore.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ylsf
                      peppermint pate RE: ylsf Aug 22, 2012 07:52 AM

                      I really like Playa Cabana. It's not high end dining, and maybe not even destination dining but it's a relaxed and friendly spot with tasty food, a fun vibe and great prices. We never spend more than $40 or $50 a couple for very good guac and chips, some tacos and a couple of beers. They're open for lunch as well. Mexican seems to have been the "it" food this summer, between all the new taco spots and my sheer inability to walk out of a food store these days without grabbing 4 or 5 avocadoes and some limes. I tend to like a lot of the places you like, ylsf, so I'd encourage you to try it one time.

                    2. t
                      TeacherFoodie RE: AzulH Jan 14, 2013 02:55 PM

                      Here's my report card for Playa Cabana (Dupont street location) in the spirit of report-card writing time!

                      We decided to go for an early dinner here on Saturday night. We ordered the guacamole and chips, salsa and chips, a pork burrito and pork tostadas. I also had sangria.

                      A = exceeds expectations, B = meets expectations, C = below expectations,
                      D = way below expectations

                      Ambiance/Atmosphere: A
                      The music was loud, but we could hear each other talking which is really all that matters. This is a lively place jammed with tables and nice, simple décor.

                      Timing/Service: B
                      The service here was good. We were seated right away (we had a reservation) and we received menus and were not left waiting at any time. Meals came out quickly, water was refilled fairly regularly, and the waitress did her best to help us with the menu. She did forget to ask us how hot we wanted our guacamole and we were just given mild (would have asked for medium).

                      Menu: A

                      I really like the Playa Cabana menu as it is large with a lot of different options. There are lots of choices on the drink menu as well.

                      Portion Sizes: B-

                      All of the portion sizes were great except for the guacamole, would have liked a bit more.

                      THE FOOD (and drink)!

                      Guacamole: C
                      The guac was mediocre at best. There were large, un-mashed chunks of avocado in it. There were no onions in it, a few pieces of diced tomatoes (three of four), and a few pieces of chopped cilantro (two or three). The serving was a tad on the small size for $8.00. I am hoping we just got a bad batch.

                      Salsa: A
                      What a fantastic stewed salsa – a perfect consistency and just the right mix of flavours! My husband, who I would consider to be a salsa connoisseur, loved this salsa, as did I.

                      Chips: A
                      These are hand-pressed corn tortillas fried in canola oil – delicious! The best chips I’ve had in Toronto. Not too salty and the perfect amount of crunch.

                      Burrito: B-
                      The burrito was good, there just wasn’t enough flavour. It seemed kind of bland. Everything in it was cooked properly, it just needed some type of seasoning. Perhaps some citrus juice and cilantro would kick it up a notch. The red sauce on it was very tasty and had a bit of heat to it.

                      Tostadas: B-
                      Basically, the same as the burrito – it was good, but flavour was lacking - same comments as above.

                      Sangria – C+
                      So far, the only sangria I’ve enjoyed in the Toronto area is the one we made at home a few months ago. When in Mexico, I have sangria with almost every meal. This one in particular lacked citrus flavour. It tasted like the fruit did not have time to infuse into the red wine. I have read that others have enjoyed the sangria here so perhaps this was also a fluke (like the guac).

                      I am hoping to come back here soon, as Mexican is one of my favourite types of food, and this is one of the best Mexican places I’ve tried in the city. I am excited to try a few more of the apps and the fish tacos as my main (the waitress had suggested these and the tostadas). Another plus here is that we were able to find free street parking.

                      This is definitely a neighbourhood gem for people who live in the area, as there doesn’t seem to be too much close by to choose from. I am sure it is great to come here in the summer and enjoy the patio.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TeacherFoodie
                        elasticwaistband RE: TeacherFoodie Jan 14, 2013 05:02 PM

                        Nice review! Thanks. I ordered some other things on the menu when I was there and would say that the ceviche and short rib tacos were excellent. The pitcher of margaritas was pretty great too:)

                        I found the place VERY noisy though, and that was the only real issue I had.

                      2. elasticwaistband RE: AzulH Mar 15, 2013 08:04 AM

                        Did anyone else hear that they will be moving the 111 Dupont location to 14 Dupont at Avenue Road - formerly Adriatico and Vittorio's on Avenue? Hope this is true...more space and a great patio.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: elasticwaistband
                          kwass RE: elasticwaistband Mar 15, 2013 08:19 AM

                          That would be great, because their current location on Dupont is pretty small.

                          1. re: elasticwaistband
                            kwass RE: elasticwaistband Mar 22, 2013 02:57 PM

                            Here's some info about the 3rd location:


                            1. re: kwass
                              kwass RE: kwass Mar 22, 2013 03:10 PM

                              And here's what Post City is saying:


                            2. re: elasticwaistband
                              smudgebee RE: elasticwaistband Dec 16, 2013 11:29 AM

                              Tried this location. The space was really cold - don't go on a cold winter day. Food was a bit expensive and greasy. Overall, an ok experience, but nothing worth repeating IMHO.

                            3. kwass RE: AzulH Aug 19, 2013 04:29 PM

                              It looks like the guy behind Playa cabana is planning on opening a 4th location, this time in Koreatown. It's supposed to be Mexican with Korean influences. Here are some posts about it:



                              2 Replies
                              1. re: kwass
                                TeacherFoodie RE: kwass Aug 21, 2013 09:08 AM

                                Great news! Still my favourite tacos in the city.

                                1. re: TeacherFoodie
                                  kwass RE: TeacherFoodie Aug 21, 2013 09:29 AM

                                  They're my favourite tacos too!

                              2. Ediblethoughts RE: AzulH Sep 29, 2013 06:52 PM

                                Finally tried this place tonight and it was the most fresh, tasty Mexican experience I've had in years. Wonderfully fresh fish tacos (even without having the deep-fried version) with lovely amounts of cabbage, avocado and a little radish and a luscious veggie enchilada with lots of tasty mushrooms. I've had a lot of veggie enchiladas/burritos in Mexican places and somehow, the veg feels like it's forced, the token gesture for vegetarians in a meat-oriented place. But this one was so good. And such a nice soft corn enchilada wrap. Refried beans and even the rice were tasty. And a side salad---unique combo of cabbage, apple, chickpeas with nice vinegar dressing.

                                Definitely going back. Glad to see they have more than one location--hope the other locations are as good!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                  TeacherFoodie RE: Ediblethoughts Oct 1, 2013 05:38 PM

                                  Glad you enjoyed. I love it there and can't wait to go back!

                                2. kwass RE: AzulH Oct 4, 2013 01:17 PM

                                  I just read that the new Playa Cabana, which is opening in Koreatown, got their liquor licence today and is hoping to be open by the end of the month...yay!! Can't wait to try this location!!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: kwass
                                    elasticwaistband RE: kwass Oct 5, 2013 02:52 PM

                                    kwass - have you been to the 3rd Hacienda location yet? Some have told me it is not as good food-wise, different menu concept, etc. I plan on seeing for myself but just wondering. Toronto Life article seems to indicate some chaos at that location: http://www.thestar.com/life/restauran...

                                    1. re: elasticwaistband
                                      kwass RE: elasticwaistband Oct 5, 2013 08:09 PM

                                      No. Unfortunately, I've only been to the original location. But I'd love to hear about your experience once you go :)

                                      1. re: elasticwaistband
                                        ylsf RE: elasticwaistband Oct 7, 2013 09:37 AM

                                        Toronto Star :)

                                        I read that article just this past weekend (had an old paper that I had clipped out some articles from). I was shocked that they are generating 10$ million of revenue from 300 seats between 3 restaurants... Maybe I don't know much about the restaurant business at all

                                        1. re: ylsf
                                          TeacherFoodie RE: ylsf Oct 15, 2013 04:03 PM

                                          Wow - that's impressive. Good for them!

                                      2. re: kwass
                                        LotteDempsey RE: kwass Oct 15, 2013 05:28 PM

                                        Me too!

                                      3. kwass RE: AzulH Nov 20, 2013 04:39 PM

                                        I'm assuming that this is a pic of some of the menu items that will be @ the newest location in Koreatown. Looks like opening day is Friday.


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