Wendy and I have recently been on a bit of a quest to find the best restaurant in New Westminster. We tried some of the overly hyped restaurants at the River Market, but somehow this lesser-known gem slipped our mind. Taqueria Playa Tropical is an authentic Mexican restaurant on 6th St. that we have been frequenting for some time, and have had a review in the draft stages for a year now (!!). The pictures below are from a mix of visits during this time period, so please excuse the older, lower resolution ones.
After a recent visit with Pandesally and his family I realized out of all the many meals I’ve had at Taqueria Playa Tropical I’ve never had a less than stellar experience.
The restaurant has changed since we first started frequenting it; they’ve knocked out a wall and doubled the size of the space. It’s also much more airy and bright, and has a warm and welcoming homey atmosphere. The family running it extend this vibe through their always friendly and smiling servers (especially George!). I remember forgetting some bags of groceries there once, and not only did they hold onto them until some time later, they put them in the fridge for me so nothing would spoil. Gracias otra vez, amigos!
Once seated you will be treated to some complimentary chips and salsa. The chips are refillable, too! They may or may not charge you the extra $1 listed on their menu for extra chips, I haven’t noticed it on any of my bills yet so who knows.
This is my favourite Taqueria Playa Tropical offering, being the big eater that I am. I just wolfed down the Phatty Burrito at Dup’s Burritos this weekend, the equivalent of 5-6 of Dup’s regular burritos! The Monster Burrito pictured above isn’t quite as extreme, but it’s still enough to fill the biggest stomach in your crew.
It used to be a special of the day that wasn’t always available, and I would bitch and moan to Wendy that they should include it as a regular menu item. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what they’ve done, and the Monster Burrito can now be had any day of the week for a very reasonable $12. Score!
The Monster and all other burritos come with a wide variety of meat options, or a vegetariano version. And your choice of green, mild red, or spicy red salsa. The barbacoa (very juicy slow cooked beef) version is pictured above.
I got so carried away with my love of oversize burritos, I almost forgot the appies! The Guacamole ($4.50) is a bit different than others I’ve tried due to the addition of pickled jalapenos for an added hit of sour spice. It also has cilantro, onions, and tomato, so overall a very solid guacamole compared to some other places that seem to just mash some avocados with salt and lime and call it guac.
Of course Taqueria Playa Tropical’s version comes nowhere near my guacamole recipe 😉
I’m pretty take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to Ceviche, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Playa Tropical’s version ($7). Theirs is made with diced Basa fish “cooked” in lime then gussied up with cilantro, onion, tomato, and avocado. Really refreshing and addictive, the four of us on the Pandesally visit were having thumb wars with our dipping fingers trying to get our shares of the bowl.
As for my favourite taco, surprisingly it’s a vegetarian item. I have a feeling Wendy would love the Champinones Taco too but she hasn’t tried it yet. Mainly using richly seasoned sliced mushrooms as the “meat”, it also has tomato, celery, garlic, onion, and cilantro, plus the ubiquitous melted cheese.
The tacos at Taqueria Playa are not just the best in New West, I would say they are the best in Vancouver bar none. In fact, I have yet to have a better taco anywhere. Consistent perfection. Forget about Wild Rice’s $5 wonton tacos, these far superior bad boys are only $2.50 a pop.
Pandesally ordered the Enchiladas Verdes ($11) on our recent visit. Wendy has tried them as well, and both are in agreement that they are a good pick. Four soft corn tortillas rolled with shredded chicken breast, then covered with green salsa (you can get salsa roja/red too). Topped with melted cheese and side of refried beans and a traditional rice pulao type thing. Very juicy due to the sauce they are swimming in, Wendy liked them since they made the chicken breast more palatable to her. She often finds chicken breast too dry for her tastes.
On our last visit to Taqueria Playa Tropical we noticed some girls at an adjacent table sipping on an intriguing drink. This is the Tropic-arita ($10), a margarita with an upside-down Coronita (mini Corona) in it. We didn’t try it, but from watching the girls drink it seems you control how much beer enters your margarita by lifting the bottle slightly from time to time. Looks like fun!
Taqueria Playa Tropical is New Westminster’s best restaurant. Don’t take my word for it though, pay them a visit and see for yourself.