Cafeteriá, is the newest Mexican resto of the 6-restaurant chain, Mas Playas owned by Dave Sidhu. You may be familiar with Playa Cabana Cantina, Hacienda, La Libre, Barrio Coreano, and Cocina Economica already, but with the launch of this 8 month project, the theme of Cafeteriá is more close to home and focused on different regions of their Mexican heritage in a formal manner.
Although the interior fixtures and warming decor was kept from the previous restaurant, it does not take away from the hard work of Cafeteriá’s kitchen; lead by Head Chef Lucas Perez – of Patria, El Catrin, and Enoteca Sociale. All their dishes are curated with distinct ingredients and flavours that embrace Mexican authenticity and culture.
A crispy Masa De La Casa dish that we tried was the Yucatan barbecue-styled Venison Tostada ($8) that is sous vide to perfection, as well as the Tuna Tostada, a refreshing citrus ceviche with cucumbers and carrots. Next was the extremely flavourful and delicious Huitelacoche Quesadilla ($8) which consisted of a fried white corn quesadilla encasing stringy cheese and corn truffle (a fungi that grows on corn in Mexico) over mushrooms.
There are at least 5 dishes we ordered for the especiales, including freshly made-to-order Guacamole & Tostadas ($9), and a Smoked Chicken Mole ($15). The Crab Salad Pastor ($14) dresses up watercress smoothly with an avocado vinaigrette drizzled over seared pineapple, coriander, mint, and the savoury deep fried soft shell crab. Another seafood plate was the Pulpo Ceviche ($16); a citrus-infused octopus dressed with a habanero coconut dressing to balance out the sweet and salty flavours. It is carefully presented between a sweet potato hay and serrano radish for added crunchiness and texture. Of course a meal would not be complete without the meat dish: Steak Tempiqueña ($18) served with fluffy kettle chips. The queso pacia marinated meat is yielded by a cooking technique that is popular in Mexico. The creative aspect of the dish is accented in their milky Rajas Poblanos sauce, where the roasted Poblano peppers adds an extra kick in contrast to the creaminess of the cheese, spinach, and onions mixed with it.
To finish, Cafeteriá’s dessert or postres is a lighter take on the traditional Pan de Elote ($8), a sweet corn bread using flaxed corn crumbs and whipped corn.
As you may have noticed, Mexican cooking methods use a medley of fresh and powerful spices, which is definitely not disregarded in many of their cócteles. Cafeterá takes pride in their 100% agave tequila, derived from the blue tequiliana weber agave plant from Jalisco, Mexico, which is used in many of their cocktails. Take a mental note that this stuff is strong, though. One that is more forgiving is the sweet-tasting Agua Loca ($12) a mix of Mount Gay white & dark rum, maraschino liqueur, lime, guava, and pineapple juice which is also beautifully decorated with a fruit skewer and flowers.
Cafeteriá uses quality corn and avocadoes from Mexico and an array of fresh aromatic ingredients for colourful presentation. The chefs play on the lightness and flavourful kicks of every single dish using these ingredients in provoking excitement with each bite. Ultimately, this Dufferin Grove diner provides a taco-free experience where you can thoroughly enjoy and discover authentic and memorable Mexican creations.
Photos by Nick Lee