Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Cantina Laredo
When you visit Cantina Laredo you won't find sombreros and ponchos adorning the walls. Your margarita won't be served in a glass shaped like a cactus. On the menu you won't find a kitschy Americanized version of nachos and tacos and tostadas.
What you will find is a sleek, modern building with loads of natural light. Your cocktails will be more about the beverage within than the glass that contains them, and you'll dine on items that focus on traditional Mexican flavors and layers of fresh ingredients. What you'll find is a dining experience that makes you feel like you're enjoying the cuisine of Mexico in a locally-owned restaurant.
The surprising fact is that Cantina Laredo is a chain. Based out of Austin, the restaurant has thirty-some locations, including spots in Las Vegas, Palm Beach Gardens, and London, England. While our Chef's Table events typically focus on individually-owned and operated restaurants, after attending the opening of Cantina Laredo I knew they would be an exception. Nearly two years in they're still going strong, and as our recent event proved, they are that exception.
The space alone is stunning, but that would be nothing but window dressing if the food wasn't up to par. It is. Every diner's meal begins with deceptively light house-made chips and two kinds of salsa. A must is the top-shelf guacamole, made table side. Our guests were also treated to carnitas. These pork shanks are slow-cooked on the bone for hours with seasoning that permeates the meat. It's topped with an incredible chipotle-wine sauce that perfectly complements the pork. The empanadas are the best I've ever had. The dough is delightful on its own, and then it's filled with tender chicken, roasted poblano peppers, and Oaxaca cheese. The Chilean sea bass is a perfectly prepared light and flaky seafood with a jalapeno buerre blanc and served with cilantro-lime rice and sauteed vegetables.
The drinks are eminently quaffable. The pineapple sangria, made with Tanteo Jalapeno tequila, is a spicy refreshing take on the traditional Spanish drink. Their classic mojito is, well, classic. And the Cabo Flip margarita takes the drink up a notch with Cabo Wabo Reposado tequila and Grand Marnier.
Entrees range from $10.99 for the torta de pollo to $24.99 for pescado del dia, or the fish of the day. The carnitas, which are a hefty portion of three pork shanks, are reasonably priced at $20.99.
Cantina Laredo is open daily for lunch and dinner. They also offer a Sunday brunch with includes your choice of a mimosa, a Bloody Maria, or a non-alcoholic drink with the purchase of an entree.
All photos by Donna Binbek