Taqueria Playa Tropical – New Westminster, BC


Taqueria Playa Tropical
334- 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
(604) 544-5006

“The Royal City” of New Westminster has a long history in this province, as it was founded as the capital of the Colony of British Columbia in the mid-19th century and was the first to be recognized as an incorporated city.  Its history notwithstanding, the city of approximately 60, 000 people today remains a smaller player when it comes to being a destination for exciting dining options, and certainly no one restaurant comes to mind when I think of this area, as the place to check out if ever here.

With a few major roads that cut through the hilly city, I’ve only really checked out some simple, hole-in-the-wall type establishments, usually for a late breakfast or brunch.  But it was brought to my attention by The Friday Lunch that an intriguing new place had been spotted – the Taqueria Playa Tropical.  Heck, the name alone brings a smile to my face.  And being so close to Burger Burger has to mean it has good karma, right?

Visiting during a weekday lunch hour, the place was pretty deserted aside from the lone female server.  With her being easy on the eyes and combined with the wonderful smells coming from the back kitchen, you could find yourself in much, much worse scenarios, so I was by no means complaining.  Quickly perusing the menu, I decided to get myself a really hearty meal.  The things I do for this blog…

Pastor Burrito ($6.50) – a foot long, flour tortilla roll stuffed with marinated pork, mixed in with some onions, cilantro, guacamole and melded together with some melted cheese.  I have unrolled it in the photo above so you could more clearly see the contents.  It was nothing outstanding and perhaps not the best representation of what they have to offer.  More heft than bold flavors is how I’d summarize this.  A victim of my own gluttony.

I should have focused my order on the taco selection.  Here is my selected trio: Pescado ($2.50), Carnitas ($2), Choriqueso ($2).  Of these, I would have to say I enjoyed the delicately cooked fish taco the most.  The slow cooked pork and the Mexican chorizo sausage were both a step behind, especially the Carnitas (which was lacking seasoning).  You’ll notice they were not double layered with the corn tortillas.  As such, some of the oil draining out of the meat seeped into the shell, making it much softer than you’d perhaps like, especially to serve its main function as a serving vessel.  A limp taco envelope with stuffing popping out before it reaches your mouth, is not what you want to have happen when you have some half decent work clothes on.

Overall, the menu is fairly standard for this kind of basic Mexican cuisine.  Many of the meat fillings (like the Carnitas, Pastor, Carne Asada, etc.) are offered across the board – as a taco, in the toasted bun known as a torta, the bigger burrito format, or folded into a flat quesadilla.  And if the animal proteins aren’t your thing, there was vegetarian (e.g. refried beans) as an option as well.  The ingredients were clearly fresh, with some brightness coming through with the ingredients and splashes of lime in all of my choices this day.  I was just underwhelmed a bit with some of the seasoning, but the meat itself across the lot was well cooked, tender and had its distinct meaty flavor retained.   For what it cost, it wasn’t a bad value and I’d return to try out more of the choices here.

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13 thoughts on “Taqueria Playa Tropical – New Westminster, BC

  1. Prior to Playa Tropical, in the exact same spot, there was Guantanamera and, prior to that, there was another Latin restaurant which names escapes me right now. So, I hope that offering something more familiar to non-Latin people will work for them.

    I find your remark about the burrito a bit funny. If you were to “break” it down, a burrito can be considered a supersize taco with more/different filling and, rather than served open, it is wrapped!

    • Wow KimHo, you’re still around. Thought you’d disappeared into the sunset after your last infamous salvo! :)

      I think in a market like New West, its perhaps best for business success if things are simplified for the general population and make something that’s more recognizable and preferred, even if the proprietor of say an lesser known ethnic cuisine wished otherwise, so perhaps this one will last longer than the rest.

      The burrito I had just killed it on the density, I guess that’s why I prefer the more delicate and smaller variety that a taco can offer – even if the contents are the same (while, a burrito I find tends to have more cheese in most cases). I guess I’m not as big a glutton as I think I am.

  2. I went there last month and the burrito was similar to what you describe. However, I added the optional beans and rice, which gave it a more varied consistency. (+$2 if i recall)

    The tacos were quite good (comparable with anything else east of Vancouver in the GVRD), but the single corn tortilla used for each taco, WTF! That ruined it for me. It completely unbalances the tortilla to fillings ratio. I won’t go back there and order a taco until some Latinos go there and flip out at the chef and set him straight. Every other self respecting taco shop, cart, etc. in the US and Canada that I have been to always double up on the tortillas.

    I ordered the garlic sauteed mushroom cheese quesadilla for my kid, and it was one of the tastiest items in the meal.

    But I did save the best part for last. The red and green salsas are made on site there, (I saw the chef whizzing up more in the blender) and they are really fresh and tasty. It is worth the hit-and-miss food just for the great salsa.

    • Every other self respecting taco shop, cart, etc. in the US and Canada that I have been to always double up on the tortillas.

      What if the chef happens to be from central Mexico, where tacos aren’t necessarily served with two tortillas? I was told that there aren’t specific rules as two how many tortillas should be per taco.

    • Nice to see you back commenting tanuiki, glad to have your shared thoughts for us to read.

      I did see the added options but given I was getting the tacos as well, I had quite the meal for myself and wanted to avoid that dreaded afternoon food coma, so held back. :)

      I’m with you on the salsas, as I was able to try them with free chips while waiting for my meal to be made. Very fresh!

    • This single vs double taco topic is interesting. While I don’t know the “rule” behind it, for me its more about function. Eg. can the weight/texture of the ingredients be handled nicely (by that I mean without turning into a limp and difficult to hold mess) with just one or two as the supporting vessel? I find that by having that doubled-up, it give it more tooth when biting into it all as well, in addition to some added volume to help you feel fuller. :) Hence, I guess I always prefer the duo.

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