December 26, 2007

Playa Taty's Restaurant - a must do

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasPlaya Taty's Restaurant on the beach in La Ceiba

Update, May 2010: It is with great sadness that I report that Play Taty's restaurant has closed.


If you ever come to La Ceiba, you MUST eat at Playa Taty's Restaurant! You MUST! I insist. I don't do many restaurant reviews, because there just aren't very many that I can recommend. I'm excited to be able to whole-heartedly recommend this one.

Playa Taty's is a new restaurant on the beach in the Zona Viva. We took our good friend blogger Katrina there for lunch Friday to "celebrate" (really to mourn) her leaving Honduras to return to the U.S. to get on with her life in the real world.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasRight off the bat before we even entered the restaurant, I was impressed with the new landscaping and the gorgeous bright tropical colors of the restaurant. It just looks like a beach restaurant should look, don't you think?

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe restaurant has seating inside, on the terraza facing the beach, and upstairs under the open air champa (palm leaf roof) also facing the beach. We chose to eat upstairs. The day was perfect − bright, breezy, comfortable temperature, and even the ocean was blue today. A sign of things to come...

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasCésar was our waiter and he was without a doubt the best waiter we've ever had in La Ceiba. Efficient, friendly, and a real charmer. He speaks Spanish and English and didn't give me that deer-in-the-headlights look when I spoke in my Texas-accented Spanish. We'll definitely be looking for César when we go back.

Pina Colada, Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasI ordered a piña colada in honor of the occasion and look at this thing! It was huge and more importantly, delish. El Jefe made a joke to the waiter that it was so tall that I couldn't reach the top of the straw and the next thing I knew, the smiling bartender brought over a bendable straw so I wouldn't have to stand up to drink it. We all had a good laugh about that. ;-D

The menu includes a variety of seafood, steak, pork, and chicken dishes with a Caribbean flare as well as some New Orleans style offerings. The entrée prices, ranging from around L.165 to L.300 (US $8.75-$15.85), are just a little higher than many La Ceiba restaurants, but still very reasonable. The steak entrées and steak-seafood combos are around L.400 (about US $21) and the lobster dishes are priced de temporada (seasonally). Which would you rather have: a blah meal with poor service at a bargain price or an excellent meal at a fair price? Uh-huh. Me, too.

The menu also includes three salads with seven different dressings, soup of the day, three sandwiches, and hamburgers. Most of the meal-sized salads and sandwiches cost around L.100 (US $5.29). Daily specials are available, and on Sundays, the restaurant offers prime rib.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasWe were so enthralled with the variety of the menu that we literally spent close to an hour trying to decide what to order. So, struggling between the nine appetizer selections, we finally decided on the coconut shrimp served with charred pineapple cocktail sauce and tempura conch appetizers to tide us over in the meantime. We weren't disappointed. Most of the appetizers are around L.100 (US $5.29), with the shrimp and lobster entradas being higher.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasMany of the platos fuertes (literally: strong plates; entrées) come with a side dish and salad. I ordered the shrimp and sausage jambalaya (loaded with shrimp and sausage and SPICE-EEE!) which did not, so I ordered a side salad for the reasonable price of L.40 (U.S. $2.11).

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThis is a real, honest to goodness salad of fresh, crisp, mixed baby lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrots and braised red cabbage with a choice of seven different dressings, none of them that watery mayo-ketchup mix that all La Ceiba restaurants serve. That alone is enough to bring us back.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasKatrina ordered the grilled conch and El Jefe ordered the grilled grouper with lime cream (photo). Both came with the house salad and yummy garlic mashed potatoes presented beautifully. In the interests of restaurant review investigation, of course I had to test everything that was put on the table, so I can say that it all was mighty tasty.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasPlaya Taty's had six different dessert selections, which is incredible in La Ceiba. The only other place that has that many is Applebee's but Applebee's dessert prices are double or more what these cost at Playa Taty's: L.40 (U.S. $2.11)! It was a really tough choice, but Katrina had the coconut raisin peanut brownie sundae which included the largest hunk of brownie I've ever seen, El Jefe had the banana rum cake, and I had the island lime pie. They all came topped with fresh whipped cream and all were outstanding.

A few things besides the food really pleased me!

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe waiter was very attentive. Both the waiter and Vander, the bartender (photo), smiled and were very friendly. (I checked with both of them: sure enough, neither are from La Ceiba! Vander is from the Honduran island of Roatán and César is from Tegucigalpa.) A good waiter adds so much to my enjoyment of a nice restaurant experience. Even the tropical shirts made me smile.

We received clean silverware with each course! Nothing new in the U.S. but it certainly is in La Ceiba.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe menu is clear and easy to read (in both Spanish and English). One of my pet peeves is menus with tiny ornate fonts and dark background images which seem to be the rage in many La Ceiba restaurants making them almost impossible to read in a dimly lit restaurant. Not only that, but we never heard "no hay" (there isn't any) a single time. In some La Ceiba restaurants, it is just easier and less disappointing to ask what they have instead of looking at the menu.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThis may sound silly, but I was really excited about the presentation of the food and the colorful plates. If you could see the usual food presentation in many restaurants and the scratched, chipped and beige (or even throw-away plastic) plates, you'd understand.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasCésar also offered a complimentary sangria when I was struggling to decide if I could possibly finish off another Piña Colada. I don't know if he thought I was a real restaurant reviewer (because of all the photos and questions) and was trying to please me or if that is common for the big spenders. ;-) In any case, it was a nice and rare gesture!

Now, an additional test of any La Ceiba restaurant is the restroom. Will you have to rush home instead of lingering over drinks or dessert because you can't bear to enter the restroom? Playa Taty's came away with flying colors here, too. Soap? Cheque! Water? Cheque! Toilet paper, paper towels, and cleanliness? Cheque tres veces! (Check three times!)

We ended up spending 3 1/2 hours for lunch at Playa Taty's! And we enjoyed every minute of it. Katrina said it was a perfect way to spend her last day in La Ceiba and I couldn't agree more.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasWhile I was there, I met the owner and chef, Carl Husbands, to compliment him on the food and especially on the service. He lamented about how hard it is to get good help. I sure hope that he keeps César and Vander happy because they are worth every lempira.

I told him that we enjoyed it so much that I would be recommending Playa Taty's to everyone I know and that I was going to write about it on my blog. He didn't seem too impressed ;-D, so, please, if you ever go there, tell him that La Gringa sent you!

I realize that any good restaurant critic would try a restaurant more than once before recommending it, so El Jefe and I plan to go back often. Who knows? We might go back tomorrow night − it was that good!

I have even more photos which you can view in this slideshow:

Try Playa Taty's! You'll be glad you did and please come back to let me know how you liked it in the comment section.

Just in case you are wondering: No, we didn't receive a discount, kickback or anything of that sort. I'm just happy to share this new discovery with you. I believe in supporting a so-badly-needed quality restaurant and wish Carl all the best success on his new venture.
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