Playita Mexicana: A Second Chance


Last week my wife and I went back and re-visited the Mexican restaurant right down the street from us called Playita Mexicana. It was our second time eating here at the place that one of my coworkers claimed to be the best Mexican food in Memphis but after our initial meal there I was not convinced. I’m a big believer in second chances and more than that I’m a fan of Mexican food so after less than two weeks I found myself walking into the dimly light dining room with high hopes of a great lunch. I know I said this in my first review of this restaurant but it was still true on this visit so bear with me. Playita Mexicana had the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had due to their sturdiness and ability to hold a mountain of either salsa or queso. The chips and salsa were served to us immediately once we were seated which was nice but it took more than ten minutes for a waitress to come take our drink order which was not ideal given that my lack of self control with salsa in front of me had me eating it without thinking of the consequences of not having a drink to soothe the spice. I know there are some circumstances in which it might take a waiter or waitress a little bit longer to get to your table and in those circumstances I am very understanding and sympathetic but that day at two in the afternoon when there was only two other groups dining was clearly a case of bad service rather than being busy. “You should give her the benefit of the doubt, Kendall. Maybe there was a disaster in the kitchen and she was working hard to help clean up the beans that were spilling over onto the floor.” I thought about that. Like I said I’m pretty reasonable so I thought to myself as my mouth was on fire that perhaps the waitress was in the back pre-occupied with something more important than the customers choosing to eat at that restaurant, but then I saw who the waitress was and realized that there were no circumstances preventing her from taking our order but rather she was just bad at her job.

When she came to take our drink order I was quite shocked to see who the waitress was. It was the girl who had been standing next to the bar talking and laughing with the bus boy which was clearly visible from where we sat about twenty feet away. It wasn’t like her back was turned and she didn’t see us come in, she was facing our direction. It took so long for her to come over and acknowledge us that the salsa guy came back by and offered us some more. He was more attentive to our needs than the person who would be getting the tip we left at the end of the meal. Like I said, it was at least ten minutes that we’d been at the table before the waitress came over so we had plenty of time to look over the menu and decide what we’d be getting so to prevent another delay in our lunch we went ahead and ordered our food with the drinks just in case the waitress disappeared for another gossip session with the bus boy. We ordered some cheese dip like any good American and I got the same lunch special I did the last time with two enchiladas but I made a key change to the order. Instead of beef I got the shredded chicken and I asked that the rice be left off the plate and only be given beans.

The drinks came and then the food was brought out in a reasonable amount of time and that was the last we saw of the waitress until we’d finished our meal and waited around for a while for her to bring a check. My enchiladas which were topped with their delicious queso were incredible and the beans were once again very tasty. My wife had the shredded chicken burrito which she enjoyed and we both loved the cheese dip. I could rave about the food at Playita Mexicana all day and so far out of the few places we’ve eaten it is the best Mexican food in Memphis but the taste and quality of the food isn’t the only aspect of the meal. When you have a bad waitress who provides bad service it can make a completely reasonable person not want to go back to a restaurant that serves delicious food. By the time the meal was winding down and I only had a few bites of enchilada left I was dying for some more water and when the salsa guy once again stopped by our table to ask if we needed more chips I asked him for a refill of my drink out of desperation and possibly the will to survive. He was happy to help even though it wasn’t his job and I sincerely hope he gets promoted soon because he is the kind of person that needs to be dealing with customers, because he actually seems to enjoy the interaction rather than the waitress we had who obviously didn’t care about doing her job well at all.

On our last visit I gave Playita Mexicana a 6 out of 10 due mostly to the taste of the beef in the enchiladas and the rice that I did not enjoy rather than because of bad service but this rating is going to be the complete opposite. I’m giving it a 7 out of 10 bumping it up a point because the food really was delicious and it has climbed it’s way in my mind to the best Mexican food in Memphis. That’s not to say that there isn’t any better but rather so far in my three months of living here I haven’t had any better but I will continue reviewing where and what I eat and will continually update the title of “Best” whenever it is necessary. I couldn’t give Playita a perfect score because the service by our waitress was just horrible and that made it a somewhat unpleasant meal. I highly recommend the food here but it might be a wise decision to bring a long a personal water bottle just in case you have the same waitress as we did unless you want to risk the possibility of dehydration.


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