Monday, August 13, 2007

There's a New Kid in Town

Cantina Laredo. "Cantina Laredo is to Mexican what P.F. Chang's is to Chinese." That's what the Ft Myers News-Press said, and I think fairly. The new, downtown Fort Worth, Cantina Laredo is in the old BankOne Building, now The Towers condominiums. The interior design is upscale with mid-tone woods, black iron and copper facades. It works. The tables are solid wood and very handsome. The bar is the first thing you see upon entering, the dining tables are to its side and back which keeps it from the big hall feeling of many restaurants. I like that, too. We visited the restaurant on a Tuesday night around 6:30 and it was about one third full in the restaurant but a full bar business. I had been to the Cantina Laredo in Grapevine for a Christmas Party a few years ago but I don't remember it being as well designed as this nor as formal; it's not for summer-casual walk-in crowd.
The food is very good Mexican with large portions. Scratch that. Very large portions. My son had the beef fajitas and said they were better than Mi Cocina's. I tasted them and agree.
The meat is tender, cooked perfectly and very tasty. My wife and I had the Manzanillo, which is two chicken enchiladas and a taco al carbon with rice and beans. It's a lot of food. By the time the en- trees arrived I told the waiter to box-to-go one of the Manzanillo plates. We did have the guacamole appetizer.We all requested the baracho beans and they were not as good as they should be. I love whole beans cooked with a little beer and bacon but these seemed fresh from the can. No texture, no beer taste and no bacon or ham. They also offer refried and black beans. The chips are excellent, the salsa is the warm variety like Blue Mesa, spicy but not too hot. The guacamole is fresh and made at the table, again similar to Blue Mesa. The tortillas were warm and very good. Our tab for 3 with drinks (no alcohol) was $60 including the tip, but we ordered the less expensive items on the menu. Chicken mole's and fish dishes are approaching $20 each. Will I go back? Yes. Are the fajitas as good as Pappasitto's? They just might be. Cantina Laredo is a welcome addition to other downtown restaurants like Mi Cocina's and P.F. Changs. It is a franchise and one of about 30 in the country.
Of the 5 good chain-Mexican style restaurants in Fort Worth I would rate the Cantina a close second behind Mi Cocina's. Followed by Pappasittos, Glorias, and Uncle Julios.

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