Playa Takeria, Darlinghurst

A great chasm in the Sydney dining scene has always been the lack of quality Mexican restaurants serving authentic cuisine.

Outdoor table

Outdoor table

Changing that stereotype is newcomer, Playa Takeria, a restaurant in Darlinghurst that takes its name from a romantic place in Cancun, Playa del Carmen.

You can't miss the bright colours

You can’t miss the bright colours

Opened for just over a month, Playa has quickly become popular and queues to dine at this 40-seat restaurant often stretch the length of the footpath.

Indoor dining

Indoor dining

Playa Takeria is a quirky and tiny restaurant decorated in vibrant tones and a clash of furniture, with brightly coloured and mismatched plates and glassware.  But somehow it all comes together.

Window seating

Window seating

Everything is so bright and festive it brings to mind the Mexican celebration of ‘The Day of the Dead’.  While the interior walls host a lot of Mexican memorabilia, the most outstanding feature of the restaurant is the exterior wall mural of a modernised and more edgy, Freda.

Family photo op

Family photo op

Bar and kitchen

Bar and kitchen

Playa is owned by Mexican-born, Ricardo, and the three chefs are from Mexico City but have most recently worked in the Caribbean.  All the wait-staff are Spanish-speaking so with the loud music, the eclectic mix of colours and so many people speaking in Spanish, we knew we were in for an authentic experience.



I had a heavy cold and was feeling like I was coming down with the flu however, we headed into the city for a family night out minus Archie.  We sat at an outdoor table and started the evening with a traditional cocktail.  Mine was mango and it tasted so good it was dangerous.  Arabella had a tamarind cocktail that was tart and sour and refreshing.


Cocktails:  $16.00

Of course Alfie didn’t want to be left out and so after a non-alcoholic sangria he was given a tropical mango mocktail.  He wasn’t keen on the sangria but he did love his mocktail.

Non-alcoholic Sangria

Mexican Soft Drinks:  $5.00



We started the meal with guacamole and corn chips.  The guacamole had a strong flavour of lime juice which went very well with the chilli-spiced corn chips.  I do think citrus and chilli pair very well together.


Guacamole Playa:  $14.00

Next we had Ceviche Tulum Tostaditas where the fish is ‘cooked’ in lime juice then mixed with tomato, onion and coriander.  This dish was a firm favourite of Drew’s although the little guy couldn’t be convinced that fish coated in lime juice to cook it is a good idea but did agree, these tostaditas have sensational colour.


Ceviche Tulum Tostaditas:  $14.00

The Mujeres Tostaditas with prawns, tomato, onion, avocado, jalapeno, lime and chipotle secret salsa were another favourite of Drew’s who by now, was lapsing into Spanish like the staff around him.  There was a very good kick of chilli in these tostaditas that was doing wonders for my cold/flu symptoms.


Mujeres Tostaditas:  $14.00

The Elotes de Barrio or Grilled Mexicano-style corn was next to arrive.  Alfie and I are big fans of corn and this corn was amazingly good.  It was steamed then finished on the chargrill and served with a sprinkle of cheese and a squeeze of lime.


Elotes de Barrio:  $5.00

We moved onto tacos and started with the Taco Don Pastor, a marinated pork taco with pineapple.  Probably my most favourite taco of the night, the pork was very tender and the pineapple really sweet.


Taco Don Pastor:  $5.00

To enjoy the tacos we ordered a bottle of Catena Malbec, a wine from Argentina.  The wine list at Playa isn’t large but all wines are from South America.  The Catena Malbec is a lovely smooth wine that pairs well with spicy food.


Catena Malbec:  $46.00

One of the tacos I really loved was the Taco Palenque V with huitlacoche, zucchini, corn, chile ancho, chile chipotle, sour cream and parmesan.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had huitlacoche and when it was described to me it did sound alarming as it is corn smut that is a grey fungus that attacks ears of corn, causing kernels to swell dramatically in size.  It’s other name is corn truffle and to me it has the texture and taste of smoked eggplant.  I’m a fan!


Taco Palenque:  $6.00

We absolutely had to try a Gringa Santanera quesadillas, made with marinated pork, mozzarella cheese and chipotle.  I wish I could tell you what these were like but unfortunately I had had an accident with the complimentary salsas and eaten a teaspoon of machete habanero thinking it was mild.  Wrong!  That is the hottest of the salsas.  My tastebuds were numb but my sinus passages were miraculously healed.

Complimentary Salsas - watch the red one!

Complimentary Salsas – watch the red one!


Gringa Santanera:  $15.00

Our final shared plate for the evening was the Burrito El Compadre with grilled chicken, Puebla rice, pinto beans, Spanish onion and Chipotle salsa.  This was a lovely soft burrito with plenty of filling.  One of these would be a meal on its own and it comes with plenty of texture and flavour.


Burrito El Chingon:  $14.00

Ricardo didn’t want us to leave without a shot of Mezcal, which is a smoked cousin of Tequila.  Now…I’m not actually a fan of Tequila and have lived a long time without feeling any need for shots of 47% alcohol.


El Jolgoria Madrecuixe $16.00

However, Ricardo explained that on special occasions when family and friends are gathered, a bottle of Mezcal is brought to the table and it is polite to have a shot before the meal and at the end of the meal.  I do hate to be rude so after a brief toast it was bottoms-up and I had my first shot of Mezcal.  I can definitely say I preferred my glass of Catena Malbec but that Mezcal has medicinal purposes if you feel you’re coming down with the flu.

Ricardo joins our table

Ricardo joins our table and we’re given headdresses of flowers.

We took the Churros Condesa with caramel sauce to go.

Bottoms up

Bottoms up

Play Takeria is an authentic Mexican dining experience where your senses will be transported to South America.  It’s a tiny restaurant with a short wine list and a small menu but the dining experience isn’t lacking in any way.

Family photo op

Family photo op

Verdict:  As Mexican as it gets.

Looks like the Caribbean to me.

Looks like the Caribbean to me.

Hotly Spiced and crew dined at Playa Takeria as guests.

So very Mexican

So very Mexican

Playa Takeria:   132 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst,  Sydney 2010

Ph:  02 9332 4206


  1. I love that in the first family photo, you are all serene and composed and sitting very straight…and then in the later one with Ricardo you have relaxed into a more Mexican vibe, flowers included 🙂 This food sounds amazing and what a great addition to the Sydney dining scene.

  2. I’m so pleased that you’ve finally got an authentic Mexican restaurant so close to home. We’ve been fortunate over the last 10-15 years as we now have several amazing Mexican places close to home. Ceviche is one of my favourite Mexican dishes, so tasty and refreshing.

  3. I’m so pleased that you’ve finally got an authentic Mexican restaurant so close to home. We’ve been fortunate over the last 10-15 years as we now have several amazing Mexican places close to home. Ceviche is one of my favourite Mexican dishes, so tasty and refreshing. I hope your flu/cold is better real soon.

  4. Wow that sounds AWESOME!! I have to say, there is really no good Mexican food in NYC either, which is such a shame. I’ll have to live vicariously through your new hot spot!

  5. Now, that is a meal. Very much a typical meal for us in this part of the world. So glad you enjoyed yourselves.

  6. Great looking place with lots of good food though I wonder if you left out the 1 in front of the 5 and 6, for the Taco don Pastor and Palenque, respectively. 🙂 Corn smut … I don’t know that I’d have the courage to try something with that in the description.

  7. Glad you had the opportunity to try some authentic Mexican food. The food looked great! Love the photos of you guys..Alfie’s so cute and growing up so quickly. We are lucky to have so many authentic plus Tex Mex time restaurants in the US. One of my favourites here is known as mountain Mexican…who knows what that really means, but it’s good!

  8. The ceviche looks so good! I’ll be craving it now. Love the thought of a bit of mezcal for your health. Makes me look forward to feeling under the weather.

  9. What a fun place to dine.

    I’ve noticed in many of your restaurant photos that these eateries have lunch counters. These are not common in my community.

  10. Sounds like a much wider selection of dishes than I’ve seen at Mexican beachfront restaurants, though Cancun is indeed a good place to find Mexican specialties from many parts of the country. Lucky you!

  11. Looks like a very interesting cheerful place.
    The ceviche sounds delicious and the corn perfectly grilled.
    Hope you are feeling better by now,cheers.

  12. It looks like a delicious meal! There isn’t a thing I wouldn’t have enjoyed—well, I’d probably have skipped the shot 🙂 Hope you”re on the mend!!!

  13. I’ve been to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. The people on Cozumel don’t tell you that you can take a ferry from the island to the mainland for next to nothing and spend the day in Playa del Carmen but our taxi driver did. We spent the most wonderful day eating fantastic Mexican food and buying things we didn’t need.

    I would LOVE this restaurant.

    On another more somber note. If you decide to do anything to help your new friends in Vanuatu, I’m sure we’d all be in to help someone rebuild after that horrible cyclone.

    • Hi Maureen, I contacted my friends in Espiritu Santo yesterday. The news from there is good. The island (a 50-minute flight from Port Vila) wasn’t affected which is excellent so no damage or loss of life to report.

  14. This restaurant looks fab, I love the decor and the food looks amazing. Fab family photos too. GG

  15. A very cheerful place and the food sounds fantastic, glad you and your family had a great time, too bad Archie missed out.

  16. Love the photo op….the cocktails and the mocktail looks awesome. Strangely, I have never been to an authentic Mexican restaurant. It looks pretty cool.

  17. Looks like a great place to take the family Charlie, great pictures of you all.

  18. Oh delicious – and it is just down the road from us. This looks amazing, I do love good Mexican, but sometimes it can actually be disappointing and bland – not here though. Love your suggestions and look forward to trying it out soon. Cheers Mx

  19. G’day! Looks like a great place with wonderful food Charlie! Love the family photo op and thanks for adding a bit of ole to my day
    Cheers! Joanne

  20. Is there anything better than chargrilled corn with cheese and lime? And lol I’m pretty sure that mezcal will cure anything!

  21. Sounds great … I love a good mexican meal and those quesadillas have me licking my lips!

  22. I’ve wondered what this place was like. Looks like a fun menu!

  23. Certainly looks like a fun night out Charlie, and great to see Arabella looking so lovely after her surgery 🙂 I have a tin of that corn smut but haven’t been game to try it yet, thanks for making it less scary! Xo

  24. Aaaaaaarghhhh I have been trying for so long to find somewhere in Australia I can have mexcal! Can’t even find it at the bottle-os here, grr.

  25. Dear Charlie,

    I’m not a big fan of Mexican except for Salma Hayek.

  26. I have been looking for a good Mexican place for a while, I will try here 😀
    Montezumas used to be my go to!

    Choc Chip Uru

  27. You are so right. Good Mexican is few and far between (this side of the border anyway). I adore the cuisine and would happily eat Mexican…oh I don’t know for most of the week 🙂

  28. We have NO good Mexican restaurants here! This looks like such great food!

  29. I’ve always bemoaned the ghastly tex-mex horrors that masquerade as Mexican restaurants so it is great to see a more authentic place. A shame it is so very far away from brissie! Love the family photo:)

  30. I do love good Mexican – we have got a good one here in HB which we love Mexi Mama – it is such fun like this one looks.

  31. Looks like you’ve landed on a very authentic Mexican restaurant. And one with panache. Your family photo in front of Frieda is lovely….And that corn….oh my goodness, wish I could grab it right off the computer screen!

  32. I am so glad you now have a place to get some good Mexican food. I don’t know what I’d do for withdrawals What you’ve shared is very close to the Mexican food as we define it here in California. I think you’ll be returning to Playa Takeria as often as possible. 🙂

  33. This looks like a fun and tasty Mexican restaurant. I’m so glad the food and drink had medicinal qualities!

  34. Well at least the salsa would have cleaned you out. It looks like a lovely place and who doesn’t love a good Mexican dish.

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