New Restaurant Opening: Cafeteria
Dave Sidhu’s seventh addition to the Playa Cabana family may be one of the hippest cafeteria-inspired restaurants you’ll walk into. Newly opened at 974 College Street, Cafetería pays tribute to Mexican diner-style luncherias that evolved from coffee shops to places you could grab small bites to full-scale family restaurants. Inspired by a trip that Sidhu and his team recently took to Mexico, the innovative menu consists of regional Mexican classics elevated to a new form.
The space, which is split into a no-reservations bar area that serves snacks and tacos and a reservations-only dining room, has a chill and authentic vibe. With exposed brick, brightly coloured tiles, vintage finds and metal gates imported from Argentina, guests will definitely want to sit and stay a while in this Instagram-worthy spot.
To drink, there’s plenty of Mexican beers along with mezcal and tequila-heavy cocktails with delectable citrus flavours. The Agua Loca (Mount Gay white rum, Mount Gay dark rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, guava juice and pineapple juice) and the Chupacabra (Dillon’s Gin, maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse and pineapple juice) are just some of Cafetería’s new-age cocktails that offer a lot of booze for your buck.
No different then the other Playa Cabana restaurants, Cafetería’s authentic food is made from the heart with only the freshest ingredients and Mexican culinary traditions in mind. Crafted by head chef Lucas Perez (Patria, El Catrin) and Sidhu, the menu is entirely gluten-free (excluding a couple beers), with delicious corn tortillas made in-house from high-quality ingredients imported from Mexico. To start, the fresh and creamy Guacamole and Tostadas were a real treat.
The Pulpo Ceviche, consisting of wine-braised octopus, veracruzano (a savoury chipotle), shrimp dust, quick pickled jicama, a sweet potato hay stack and coconut habanero dressing, was an elevated take on a Latin American classic.
A personal favourite, the Crab Salad Pastor is made with soft shell crab, cured and fresh pineapple, greens and pastor vinaigrette for a spectacular starter.
Both the Tuna and Venison Tostada were a crunchy delight, and the Huitlacoche Quesadilla was a deliciously sophisticated take on Mexican comfort food. While mole is often a hard sauce to master, it’s done perfectly with Cafetería’s Chicken Mole Wings – trust us.
The star of the show was definitely the scrumptious Steak Tempiquena, made with skirt steak, braised poblano, onion and spinach in a light cream sauce, and crunchy yuca chips. Cooked to perfection, the steak is complimented well by the Mexican flavours of the poblanos and the richness of the comforting creamy sauce.
Sidhu’s passion and utmost respect for Mexican cuisine is evident in Cafetería – a restaurant that does elevated Mexican flavours right. Cafetería brings something unique to the Mexican dining scene in Toronto, it’s definitely a must-try for all you Mexican food lovers!