Yesterday my wife and I decided to try out Playita Mexicana, a restaurant just a block from our house that was recommended to me last week by a coworker claiming it the best Mexican restaurant in Memphis. If you know me I love Mexican; the great food, great culture, and great people. Heck I love them so much I even married one so it is not surprising that I was jumping at the chance to visit the best Mexican restaurant in the city, according to Trey. Not that the entrees weren’t great but what I liked most about the meal were the free chips we got upon arrival. These were the absolute best chips I’ve ever had for eating salsa and queso. They had the thickness of pita chips and could roughly hold the weight of a baby elephant without breaking in two. You know that terrible moment when the chip breaks off while you’re dipping it in the cheese dip and you sadly watch that little piece of you heart slide out of sight to the bottom of the bowl? And then you don’t want to seem like an unhygienic fool and stick your fingers into the hot, melty cheese so you tip the bowl to your mouth and chug the queso until that salty chip fulfills his destiny of being eaten by you. You just end up looking like a jerk but you don’t have to worry about that at Playita Mexicana because each and every chip has the strength to carry it’s share of salsa and or queso.
The waitress was very friendly and chatted a lot with my wife and the only negative was that it took her a while to offer refills but in her defense the glasses were really big, but I just happened to be really thirsty. I ordered the special lunch #3 which was two enchiladas with rice and beans and my wife got the Quesadilla Mexicana which had all the makings of a fajita plus cheese pressed into a quesadilla with a chicken taco a la carte. I should have gotten one each of the beef and chicken enchiladas so I could have a wider variety of comparison but alas my stomach was thinking rather than my head and for me beef usually wins out. The plating looked good with the obligatory rice and beans taking up half the plate and the two enchiladas covered with melted queso covering the rest of the space. I love it when restaurants put cheese sauce on top without making you ask for it and be charged more for it. Does anyone actually prefer the red sauce? I didn’t think so. The refried beans were actually pretty good but the rice was awful. I’m honestly not a big fan of mexican rice anyway generally avoiding it but this was even worse. The rice was completely overpowered by the taste of tomato paste and the texture was not something I enjoyed, being almost as smooth as mashed potatoes.
The enchiladas were okay although I didn’t love the taste of the beef. Have you ever been at a buffet and made the terrible decision to eat some of the “taco meat” they have? It has a weird taste to it that really makes me think whoever prepared it has never had a taco before. That’s what the meat inside my enchiladas reminded me of and just to be sure I wasn’t crazy I let my wife taste it and she agreed. She also made sure to remind me that I shouldn’t expect much out of the ground beef in Mexican restaurants because in Mexico ground beef isn’t the normal meat in tacos but rather chicken and steak are the common fillers. Alright, so I shouldn’t have gotten the beef. Overall I’d give the actual entree a four out of ten but I did order off the lunch specials menu so I really shouldn’t be that surprised that it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had. My wife’s quesadilla was “eh” meaning nothing special but it was a good portion size and was better than the quesadilla she’d gotten at El Porton a month or so ago which isn’t saying much. The shining star between the two of our meals was Leticia’s chicken taco. She gave me a piece of the chicken and I gotta say that is some of the best and most succulent grilled chicken I’ve had in a while.
It’s very difficult to really review a restaurant just based on the lunch specials so as for now I’m giving it an overall 6 out of 10 but that is a fluid score that can be adjusted upon future visits and trust me, there will be future visits. The positives for me were the texture and taste of the chips, the queso on top of the enchiladas, and most importantly some of the best tasting chicken in a taco that I’ve ever had. The negatives were the taste and texture of the rice as well as the funky tasting ground beef. I’m not willing to call it the best Mexican restaurant in Memphis especially since I’ve only been to a couple others since moving here but I am willing to give it another shot and I truly believe I just made a mistake with my ordering and fully expect the score to go up in the future.