Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cantina Laredo

Chicago is the latest city to receive one of the roughly 30 Cantina Laredos already serving. Technically a "chain" Cantina has more class and charm to be mistaken for a TGI or something similar. The restaurant is quite large and multi-leveled. The decor is interesting, stylish and modern. Seating is mostly large leather booths around the perimeter with four-tops in the middle. Everything reminds me of a grown up version of a classic family Mexican restaurant. It reminds me of a more sophisticated Moe's Cantina or a more interesting Zapatista. The food was solid - not knock your socks off but good all around. I really enjoyed my steak fajitas and the table side guacamole was fun. I ate my weight in chips and salsa, but was disappointed that there wasn't a "hot" salsa available for some reason (they ran out?). The margaritas were classic and tasty and completely fit in with the food (i.e. solid good but not earth shattering). We finished the meal with two desserts that were great and served in a warm cream that fills the restaurant with a tasty cotton candy smell.

All in all we had a great time with good food and drink, solid service and great company. The value is decent and the crowd lively. Every aspect is good, but also safe. What makes me stop from recommending Cantina as a great new mexican place in town is that it's neither the best food (think Rick Bayless) nor the most lively/unique (think Mercadito). It's in the middle - and middle is rarely where you want to be as a restaurant. You won't have bad food or a bad time and I'll tell people to go, but I'm likely to be more interested in getting my fajita fix somewhere else.

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

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