Chicagoans love their brunch and if you are also a fan of Mexican food, there is no better option than Cantina Laredo, located at the intersection of State and Illinois in River North. The brunch menu, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., focuses on modern twists to traditional brunch options. As an added bonus, all brunch dishes include a complimentary mimosa made with fresh-squeezed orange juice, Bloody Mary made with Tito’s vodka, or Bloody Maria made with Casa Noble organic tequila.
Consulting Chef Daniel Espinoza and Executive Chef Damon Workman together have created a modern Mexican midday menu, featuring starters such as yogurt with fresh fruit and agave honey, crispy crab tostadas with chipotle aioli, beet and goat cheese flatbread and seasonal ceviche. Large plates include breakfast tacos, shrimp and grits, barbacoa hash, omelet al pastor, crab cakes benedict, French toast, huevos benedictos, chilaquiles, carne asada huarache and more.
We started the meal out with the Bloody Maria – Cantina Laredo’s unique take on the traditional Bloody Mary recipe. They do offer a Tito’s Vodka Bloody Mary but the Bloody Maria is made from Casa Noble organic tequila. I do not consider myself an aficionado of tequila, but I do know good from bad – and this is an excellent product. The tequila flavor is subtle and smooth and blends well with the tomato juice. If you can disregard the gigantic celery garnish, this will be one of the best Bloody Mary-type cocktails you have had in a while.
One of the restaurant’s most inventive menu items is the seasonal ceviche. The chefs change this recipe out weekly, and often work together in the kitchen as a team to develop new and interesting options. For our visit, the ceviche was a citrus-cured salmon with persimmon and black radish escabeche, and a light mango habanero sauce. It was served atop crunchy chicharrones. All I can say is “Wow!” If this specific preparation is any indication, you must order the ceviche when you visit – no matter what the recipe might be. It is sure to be a standout menu item for you as it was for us. The addition of the chicharrones was inspired.
Choosing an entrée was difficult, but we finally opted on two:
- Carne Asada Huarache (grilled skirt steak, crispy corn masa, black beans, spinach, egg, sour cream, salsa fresco, pico de gallo, salsa de molcateje) Although this may sound like a huge number of ingredients (and it is), the combination is a perfect hearty brunch offering. The steak is fork tender and the other ingredients are all savory and full of flavor. I prefer poached eggs, so if you are also in that frame of mind simply ask for that substitution.
- Barbacoa hash (barbacoa, crispy potatoes, shaved radishes, egg, chipotle mayo, salsa cruda) What’s not to like here? The barbacoa is packed with flavor and the other ingredients all complement that savory mound of shredded beef. The crispy potatoes deserve a mention – crisp on the outside, soft inside, and sprinkled with a spicy salt mixture. Again, as with the Carne Asada, we opted to substitute poached eggs and that proved to be a perfect choice.
The Cantina Laredo brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The restaurant is located at 508 N. State Street. For more information, call (312) 955-0014 or visit the Cantina Laredo website. You can also follow their social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.