Introducing: Cocina Economica, Corktown’s piece of the Playa Cabana empire
Name: Cocina Economica
Contact: 141 Berkeley St., 647-748-4777, playacabana.ca
Previously: Berkeley Café
Owner: Dave Sidhu
Chef: David Sidhu and Samantha Valdivia (Cancun City)
The Food: Homestyle cooking inspired by Mexico’s cocina economicas, family-run kitchens that serve inexpensive dishes to neighbourhood residents. Bocaditos (small bites) like guacamole and chips, ceviché and quesadillas start things off. Slow-cooked meats (lamb, pork, chicken and beef) are sold by the pound (or half-pound) and served with tortillas, beans, rice and various fixings. Vegetarians can even get in on the pay-by-the-pound fun with soy chorizo, which in this case is not just Spanish for “I am chorizo,” but a meatless version of the spicy sausage.
The Drinks: Tequila- and mezcal-laced cocktails, bottled Mexican beers (also available four to a bucket), wine by the glass or bottle and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages including horchata, tamarind juice, Jarritos and Mexican Coke. Also: mezcal, straight-up.
The Place: Berkeley Café regulars won’t recognize the space, now decked out in patterned tiles, sheet metal and repurposed doors. Shelves are lined with clay pots and antiques imported from Mexico, and colourful woven textiles cover tables. Right now the restaurant seats 34 people inside and 20 on the front patio, but a second floor and upstairs patio are scheduled to open later this summer.