Dinner Club Round 2! Our adventure this time brings us to Cafeteria, the newest addition to the Playa Cabana family. I guess in comparison to other cuisines I’m on the fence about Mexican food. It has never over delighted me but at the same time, who can deny the satisfaction after biting into a perfectly constructed burrito.
Cafeteria is located at College and Dovercourt and is Dave Sidhu’s 7th restaurant inspired particularly by Latin America’s diner style “luncherias”. The space is super cute, warm and friendly – dim lighting, exposed brick walls, massive bar in the front and plenty of casual family style and small table seating. My favorite part of the interior design was an iron gate in the middle of the space imported straight from Argentina that separates the front house from the back. Almost felt like you were walking to what might have once been a garden.
Photo Credit: Toronto Life
Photo Credit: Toronto Life
Our group was about 10 people so we were seated at one of the bigger tables right by the beautiful gate. Because of our large group we were able to get a fixed menu at the very reasonable price of $40 a person. But before the food we had get our drink on. They have a variety of different Mexican beers and specialty cocktails to choose from but I couldn’t help but notice the Oaxacan Old Fashioned, made with Tromba añejo, Marca Negra espadin mezcal, agave, angostura bitters and orange oils. I often ask bartenders to make their traditional old fashions into a tequila old fashion because of how much I love them. You won’t believe me but I swear it tasted like candy. I may or may not have asked if could negotiate a “Buy 2 get 1 FREE” deal with our waiter. I failed miserably.
Now on to the best part – the food. Our spread for the evening:
Guacamole and Tostadas (1 pr 3 guests)
Octopus Ceviche (1 pr 3 guests)
Soft Shell Crab Salad Al Pastor (1 pr 3 guests)
Venison Tostada (1 pr guest)
Huitlacoche Empanada (1 pr 2 guests)
Tuna Tostada (1 pr guest)
Rice / beans (1 pr 2 guests)
Carnita Taco (1 pr guest)
Steak Tampiquena (1 pr 4 guests)
So before I get into the food – which was all incredible. We were all actually RIDICULOUSLY full after our second round. Much to our surprise we realized there was a third round and dessert. We reduced the quantities of the third and actually cancelled dessert. Clearly a really good price for the amount of food that we got to try.
Admittedly I didn’t take photos of all the food but did what I could. From Round 1 my favorite was the guacamole followed by the soft shell crab salad. The guacamole was SUPER fresh and simple which I loved and the salad was such an interesting mix of textures with the soft shell crab, cured and fresh pineapple all tossed in a pastor vinaigrette. The ceviche was good but I’ve just decided that octopus is not my thing.
Pictured: Soft Shell Crab Salad Al Pastor
Pictured: Octopus Ceviche
From Round 2 I’d say the tuna tostada won my heart. Made with delicate yellow fin tuna, pickled onions and some of that fresh guacamole on a crispy but soft patty – to die for. The Empanada was a close second since it was stuffed with what is known as the Mexican truffle which I won’t go into detail about because I googled it and probably shouldn’t have.
Pictured: Tuna Tostadas
Pictured: Venison Tostada
Pictured: Huitlacoche Empanada
By the time Round 3 came around, like I said, we were ridiculously full. The ironic part was that this round was the best of the three. I don’t think there was a dish that I didn’t just devour as soon as I took the first bite. The rice and beans are actually one of their house specialties and although when it arrived it didn’t look too outstanding, it tasted fabulous. I kinda wished this had come out at the beginning of the meal because it would have been the perfect accompaniment to some of the other dishes. By far my favorite (and probably of the night) was the Steak Tampiquena. Made of perfectly cooked medium skirt steak served with rajas (braised poblano, onion and spinach in light cream sauce) and yuca chips. The pictures don’t do it justice. I have craved this dish a few times over since this visit.
Pictured: Steak Tampiquena
So yes, it was an awesome dinner and experience. The wait staff was super attentive and accommodating, always making sure our drinks were full but also not encroaching on our space and conversation. They were also really great about telling us what each dish was made of and provided their recommendations where we needed them. I don’t lie when I say I have literally mentioned this place to anyone who has asked for a resto reco recently. I can’t wait to go back. Maybe this time they’ll take me up on my drink offer.