Food + Drink
November 5, 2019
Playa Cabana Touches Down At Yonge + St. Clair
Playa Cabana, the popular Mexican taquiera that has taken over Toronto’s food scene has sprung up a new location at 21 St. Clair E. Dave Sidhu, the founder talks about the new location, and the driving force behind the successful family of restaurants.
Yonge + St. Clair: With the growing number of Playa Cabanas around Toronto, now including the 21 St. Clair E location, we have to ask – What is the philosophy behind your popular cuisine and dining experience that’s contributing to its popularity?
Dave Sidhu: I don’t know that we have a philosophy but we are passionate about Mexican inspired cooking and creating spaces where people can enjoy themselves and hopefully that translates.
Y+S: From all the Playa Cabana locations you’ve launched, is there one you’re particularly proud of?
DS: To be honest this is probably the one I’m most proud of because it took the most out of me. The build out took almost a year from planning to execution. I know we still have a ways to go now that we are open so that still feels challenging and exciting.
Y+S: What are some of the opportunities or motivations that made Yonge + St. Clair an attractive location to open a Playa Cabana?
DS: The energy at this intersection really attracted us to it. There’s a strong business and creative vibe here. Slate, our landlord, has done an amazing job at rejuvenating the neighbourhood, they own a few buildings here. They have a strong commitment to food & arts.
Y+S: Are there any specific approaches or certain offerings that the Playa Cabana at Yonge + St. Clair serves that’s different from the other locations?
DS: Something new from us here is our lunch menu (11am – 4pm) where guests can order at the counter then take a number and seat themselves. We cook each dish to order then a server carries it to the table. We did introduce new items for example the shrimp tempura tacos, which is a Baja style taco with a mirin-soy tempura salsa.
Y+S: What do you think are the most underrated aspects of Mexican cuisine?
DS: I think the most underrated aspect of Mexican food is that people think it’s always done cheaply. It can only be done fresh and the proper way is to use the best ingredients. For example we use a whole grain brown basmati rice (for our Mexican style rice) that not only costs twice as much as white rice but it takes twice as long to cook it. We also use a wild Canadian cod for our fish taco. All of our pork is Tamshire from Niagara county, all our chicken is free range from Niagara county, and our beef (short-rib & skirt steaks) are grass fed from PEI.
Y+S: Did you always know that you’d be in this industry, and specifically Mexican taquerias?
DS: I didn’t know I was gonna be in this business but I’m a creative person so if I come across something that interests me I’m gonna try to expand on it. And for me the creative aspect of designing the space and menus has always been a driving force.
Y+S: Any other exciting plans for Playa Cabana coming up?
DS: We are actually opening another Taqueria at Yonge and Eglinton next year.