Playa Cabana, a cute dive, is a hard-to-get reservation. Go figure: any second they’ll be closing the back patio, where plastic sheeting, masking tape and ineffectual heaters do little to cut the cold. The front room (warmer!) is an urban remake of a Mexican beach bar, with impeccably rendered tacos and the like.">

Kates: Playa Cabana is no Grand Electric, but it has great Mexican food


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A cute dive (Image: Allie Hunwicks)

With Mexicana being the hottest cuisine in town, it’s small wonder that Playa Cabana, a cute dive, is a hard-to-get reservation. Go figure: any second they’ll be closing the back patio, where plastic sheeting, masking tape and ineffectual heaters do little to cut the cold. The front room (warmer!) is an urban remake of a Mexican beach bar, with impeccably rendered tacos and the like.

Not creative, not dazzling like Grand Electric, but great ingredients treated with utmost respect. Love the chewy/sweet octopus mini-tacos, nicely judged ceviche of sea bass, and grilled fish tacos with fresh corn, coriander, chilis, onions and a load of lime juice for pizzazz. Finish with oozing rich tres leches cake.

Playa Cabana, 111 Dupont Street, 416-929-3911

Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine, and she was the Globe and Mail's restaurant critic for 38 years.

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