Taqueria Playa Tropical
334- 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
“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.