Having gone to elementary through high school on the Upper West Side, I can safely say that it doesn't scream “trendy restaurants”, no, these restaurants are more classic, family oriented and meant to stand the test of time. From the neighborhood’s go-to’s Andy’s Delis and Zabars, for years, the neighborhood felt trapped in a time capsule.
In these last couple of years, some of that downtown trend had migrated uptown. If I were still in high school over there, I would weigh a million pounds. Back in the day, the choices were T&R Pizza or H&H Bagels (RIP UWS location). Now, some competitively cool restaurants have taken over what my friends and I once lovingly called “the 50¢ store” because of its super cheap sodas. Crave Fishbar, Luke's Lobster, Island Burger & Shakes, Levain Bakery and now Playa Betty’s.
It's about time a beachy taco joint found a home in the area. A larger restaurant for the area, the white walled space bears the words “Playa Betty’s” in orange painted largely across the back wall, a large neon sign over the bar directs you to “eat tacos”, the sea foam colored chairs with white cushions with large rainbow colored graphic floral details add to that surfer dude feel—I equate them to swim trunks—I love the vibe.
Seated by the window, I watched the food make its way over to my table. Out came round one, the DIY guacamole with pinch-bowl sized ramekins filled with lots of chopped fixin’s, onions, pomegranate seeds (not chopped), and hot chilies to name a few. Mix them together to your liking or eat the guac straight, either way, you'll find yourself to be a happy beach bum. The Mexican Grilled corn is always a must!
Round two (“fight”—Street Fighter reference, sorry, couldn't help myself). Out paraded six of their self proclaimed “famous tacos”. The presentation wasn't my favorite, so please note that I rearranged them slightly for my photos included in this article and on Instagram, but the flavors are exciting! When reading the names off of the menu when initially placing my order, I couldn't help but giggle. My faves, aka the ones you should definitely include in your order are the “Tac-o-fella” with its unique and delicious fried oyster base, the “The Marley” cause in your right mind you would never skip a Jamaican jerk chicken taco and the “Baja Fish Taco” cause you need to have a traditional fried Mahi Mahi taco whenever the opportunity arises.
As with most restaurants, it's better when you go with the right people, bring someone fun, funny and light hearted along with you and have a really easy breezy time at the playa!