Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cantina Laredo at the Village of Gulfstream Park

I often get asked for recommendations on the best restaurants for different types of foods. Where should we go for the best seafood or what is your favorite place for Italian? In Miami, we are so incredibly lucky because there is such a variety of cultures represented in the cuisine, that my answers usually involve more than one. I am excited to add a new place to the "Where can we find great Mexican food" age-old question (which I happened to have been asked on Twitter recently). And this place is Cantina Laredo, located at The Village of Gulfstream Park, 501 Silks Run, in Hallandale.

Cantina Laredo is a high-end Mexican food franchise, with locations throughout the United States. Opening in 1984, it provides a modern twist to gourmet dishes from Mexico City. The ambiance has a modern vibe to it. You will definitely not find the usual colorful look you expect in a Mexican restaurant but rather a more upscale, sophisticated feel. There is a vast selection of Margaritas to choose from and we spared no time in embarking on our adventure.

The Daring Duo: Hornitos Skinny Rita
and Cabo Flip
We started by ordering a Cabo Flip and an Hornitos Skinny Rita. The Cabo Flip was a tantalizing margarita made with Cabo Wabo Reposado and Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur. Inside there was a lime boat full of that's what I'm talking about. The Hornitos Skinny Rita was more subdued and fruity, made with Hornitos Plata, fresh lime juice and agave nectar. You could choose to add a splash of Lime, Raspberry or Peach.

Hello Lover!

Sipping away we scanned the menu. The first thing I noticed was that it offered quite a bit of dishes, which based on my trips to Mexico, sounded very authentic. There was everything from enchiladas, carnitas, tacos and an appetizing choice of fish. Then I saw IT and I knew I had to have IT: Top Shelf Guacamole, made tableside. Look, I don't know what it is between me and avocados and I actually started eating them as an adult but the green little suckers are my apple a day. We also tasted a new appetizer on the menu, Botanas Trio, which consisted of two ahi tuna tacos, crab cakes and Poblano Chicken Empanadas. Let's go back to my vice. The guacamole was spot on! It had a creamy texture and just the right amount of jalapeno kick. I will confess I was rather unladylike as I dipped my chips in a hurry to ensure most of it was mine. The Botanas Trio had a nice sampling of snacks. The crabcakes were tender and made with micro cilantro to heighten the taste and the empanadas had a generous filling of chicken and roasted poblano peppers. The star of the trio for me were the ahi tuna tacos. The fresh chunks of tuna were blissfully combined with chipotle aioli and jicama slaw, ending in a crispy bite.

Botanas Trio

Torta de Carnitas
For entrees, we tried the Camaron Poblano Asado and the Fish of the Day which was a mild, tender filet of Swordfish. Call us gluttonous, but we also shared a new dish, the Torta de Carnitas, but more on that later. Cantina Laredo offers 2 or 3 fresh fish daily and tonight's was grilled and served on a bed of cilantro rice and pan seared zucchini. The swordfish was flavorful and I loved the creaminess of the cilantro rice. The Torta de Carnitas was a fun griddle baked sandwich on ciabatta bread, made with slow-roasted pork and topped with fried eggs, apricot spread and goat cheese. Can you just imagine the flavor explosion? Oh and even the onion jalapeno fries served with the torta were outrageous. And now our favorite of the night: The Camaron Poblano Asado. One of the main things that stood our for us throughout the adventure was the originality of the food in terms of the ingredients and preparation. This dish was the king. It was a juicy grilled steak wrapped around poblano pepper with shrimp, mushrooms, onions and monterey jack cheese, crowned with a bang of chimichurri sauce. This baby was served with a side of rice and zucchini vegetables and I absolutely loved it. Just remembering it is making me salivate.

Camaron Poblano Asado
At this climatic point of the night, we sat  back and realized why Cantina Laredo is growing so quickly and becoming the spot to go to for Mexican gourmet cuisine. But it wasn't over yet.  We couldn't walk away without sealing the evening with a sweet finale. And so we did. We shared the Mango Tres Leches, a creamy and milky vanilla cake bathed in mango sauce. Decadent and rich, it was almost like biting into a mango from heaven. Artwork you can eat.

Mango Tres Leches
Taking a drive out to the Village of Gulfstream Park just became a lot more exciting now that we discovered Cantina Laredo. For more information or to make reservations, you can visit their website at or call them at 954-457-7662.

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

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