Have you ever taken a bite of something so delicious you wanted to stand up and announce to the entire restaurant that they should order what you have just tasted? I had such a bite at Cantina Laredo a last week — the Chilean Sea Bass with rice and asparagus — and just to be certain it wasn’t a fluke, I had another bite and another until my portion was gone. And
the last bite was as gratifying and flavorful as the first.
But I should begin my experience with the appetizer — chips and the Top Shelf Guacamole made table side. Our waiter, Jose, went over every ingredient, asked us how hot we liked our guacamole, and then proceeded to entertain us with the artistry of making a fresh and
delicious beginning to our meal. Not only were the avocados flavorful and the heat spot-on, but the chips were crisp and salted to perfection – and they were just as crisp the next day.
Not only is Jose excellent at making guacamole, he is also excellent at suggesting cocktails. He recommended the Cinco Rita, a blend of five tequilas; normally I avoid tequila, but this blend is smooth and, though potent, doesn’t taste of alcohol. A must try if you indulge in libations.
Another libation, non-alcoholic, is the Ahi Tuna Tacos. Though the menu describes the appetizer as “Mini-crispy tacos with sushi cut ahi tuna, chipotle aioli, jicama slaw and guacamole” all for $8.95, it does not convey the artistry of the plate. And, since I knew I couldn’t do justice to the order that looked like it should be framed in the Chicago Art Institute, I took a picture. Now, the first time we ordered, during the start of dinner service,
it was perfection; the second time we ordered, during lunch, the tacos were laying on the guacamole instead of standing, and the filling was wetter than before so the bite wan’t as crispy, but the flavor remained.
Avoid the Mexican Apple Pie unless you want a mouthful of butter. Instead, try the Mango Tres Leches for dessert — the moist vanilla cake blanketed in a mango cream sauce is a combination of just enough sweetness to indulge the sweetest tooth and please those that prefer a subtler sweet.
The dining space is split between indoor and out. Both are beautiful and inviting. What adds to the atmosphere is the professionalism and personality of the wait staff. When making our virgin visit on a Thursday night Happy Hour, we didn’t realize the outdoor tables weren’t connected to the bar and so the bill came with full price for everything. I asked how the system worked for next time and explained that one of the drinks that was charged wasn’t what was ordered (though still good and still consumed). Our server listened and when she returned, she had adjusted the bill to take care of the drink and one of our appetizers so it would be more in line with the Happy Hour special. In taking that extra step, she guaranteed my return even during happy hour when the place fills with a sea of business suits and after work chatter.
I can’t vouch for every Cantina Laredo franchise, but I can say with certainty that this one will make your dining experience a pleasure while pleasing your palate. Happy eating!