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FOODIE SPY: MAY 24, 2012
LOCATION: CANTINA LAREDO @ 508 NORTH STATE ST.- DOWNTOWN CHICAGO
Cantina Laredo opened in downtown Chicago last September after what seemed like years of renovations. Now this franchise has added even more sprawl to the north State Street and Illinois Avenue intersection. Cantina Laredo has a unique flair of nouveau high end Mexican cuisine combined with its traditional roots. I happened into Cantina Laredo with a group of 10 colleagues for a business lunch.
One of the things I love about Cantina Laredo is the layout of the space. I can’t put a finger on the type of architecture, but the front of the two story restaurant is glass, and the tables, the bar, and the walls evoke a feeling of being in adobe castle. With the fire place or the sun beaming in, or at night when the bar illuminates the center, Cantina Laredo always has this enchanted atmosphere. It makes any outing more fun.
The second thing I love about Cantina Laredo is the delicious food. It definitely doesn’t disappoint. The menu selections range from traditional steak, chicken, and fish dishes, to appetizers and brunch items with a twist. My group ordered the Chicken Fajitas, the Carnitas, the Pollo Chipotle, the Asada Y Enchilada, the Tacos De Carnitas, the Enchilada De Mole, and some of us tried the Sopo de Tortilla.
Everything was AWESOME! I mean with all honestly that every one us was damn near licking our plates (while trying to maintain some degree of etiquette).
The menu items aren’t too pretentious, nor are they too traditional. In fact my chicken fajitas were simple; strips of juicy grilled chicken, veggies, pico de gallo, guacamole, a special queso cheese, tortillas, and cilantro. But together it was delight for my taste buds.
The chef doesn’t rely on some generic adobo seasoning to create the Mexican taste, but instead uses fresh herbs and vegetables to evoke a novel Mexican flavor. This is also how some of the unique sauces are created, like the Mole sauce, which made my colleague wanna kiss the cook. She luckily resisted. For dessert we tried the Mexican Apple Pie and the Mango Tres Leches. Both were large and delicious.
With no hesitation I can say that Cantina Laredo is one of the best Mexican restaurants in downtown Chicago. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a better atmosphere or newer authentic flavor in another Mexican restaurant in the entire city. Cantina Laredo is one-of-a-kind. Though there are franchises all over the country and soon the world, I’d like the think that this one has a special Chi-town flair. Stop in on Tuesdays during the summer for featured weekly top shelf margaritas.
FINAL VERDICT: If you’re downtown and you’re hungry, GO THERE. You’ll love it!Cantina Laredo 500 North State St., Chicago, IL 60654