Having to take my sister to the Oakland Airport (and lunch), and not being familiar with area, I consulted my trusty Chowhound Message Board. (The magical Ctrl F.) And the oracle did not disappoint! Thank you, Ruth and jeniferfishwilson! If I knew how to make a link to your 11 December 2002 post, I would.
Playa Picante was delicious. Everything Ruth and Jennifer said was correct. The meats (carnitas and carne asada) were succulent and richly flavored, the organic corn tortillas were fresh and tasty, and the refried beans did smack of house-rendered lard, and the salsa of finely diced tomato--no watery mashed veggies here--did not sport any tomato seeds.
My sister downed an entire bowl (at least a full pint) of the fragrant Sopa Azteca ($5.95), and still found space for an order of freshly fried chips and salsa ($2.00). With mother we also shared an order of Enchiladas de Mole ($7.95)--good sauce, rather dry chicken filling--Carne Asada Tacos ($6.25), Plato de Carnitas ($7.95), and a Flan ($3.25) for dessert. The Cafe de Olla ($1.45) has to be one of my favorite coffee creations, with the flavors of cinnamon, clove, piloncillo, and orange perfectly balanced.
Not yet having had her fill of good Mexican food, my sister flew off to NY hand-carrying a bulky Pollo Asado Tostada Salad ($6.95).
Again, to all those who recommended Playa Picante, many thanks! (Now, if only someone will point me towards as pleasant and delicious a place for Mexican food on the Peninsula. . .)
Playa Picante--2375 Shoreline Drive at Park St., Alameda tel.(510) 5225151, Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily