Cantina Laredo

Traditional flavours of Mexico and a mean top shelf guacamole
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Time Out Says

Cantina Laredo is a gourmet Mexican restaurant chain hailing from Chicago, Illinois. In the UAE, they have a branch in Khalidiyah Mall, which has earned a reputation serving authentic, high-quality Mexican dishes. We visit it for lunch on a busy Saturday post-shopping.

We are seated promptly in a comfortable booth. This spot has all the trappings of a traditional US Mexican cantina: low-lit with ambient music and friendly faces.

We have heard great things about the Top Shelf guacamole, which is made in front of your eyes, so we start with that along with the Nachos Al Carbon. We order Tacos Cascabel Vegetarian and a Top Shelf Brisket as our mains.

While we wait, we are served chips and two variations of salsa: one is standard while the other is like nothing we have ever tasted, served warm, medium spiced and a flavour sensation.

The live guacamole preparation arrives and the show begins. The waiter has bowls of colourful ingredients before him. He deftly halves then slices and dices the avocado, adding red onion, tomato, coriander and lemon to it. It is simple and perfect with chips. The nachos, on the other hand, are a bit too cheesy and greasy, which is to be expected but, in contrast to the brightness of the guacamole, they fall flat.

Fortunately, the mains come along after a well-needed rest in between courses. The Top Shelf brisket is delicately spiced in a way Mexican food sometimes isn’t out of Mexico. No spice rings out too highly, and the beef is cooked to perfection.

The Tacos Cascabel Vegetarian are the real standout. Cascabel means ‘little bell’ in Spanish and it is a type of pepper. The ‘bell’ designation describe the tendency of loose seeds to rattle inside a dried cascabel when shaken. It is an unusual ingredient to find so far away from Mexico.

The chefs have taken this small pepper and created great flavour with it. The sauce ladled with a heavy hand on the myriad grilled vegetables within the tacos will make you say ole to vegetables. You don’t need meat in these tacos. They are finished with a sprinkle of cotija cheese, red onions and coriander. We find ourselves scooping the remaining cascabel sauce up with leftover chips. Who needs salsa? We weren’t going to let a drop of this sauce go to waste.

Cantina Laredo will not dare to disappoint diehard fans of Mexican food. The food contains flavours that will not only satisfy your Mexican craving, it may even leave you guessing about all the new tastes you have tasted there. This is a rare culinary find outside of North America.

The bill (for two):
Topshelf guacamole Dhs46
Nachos Al Carbon Dhs51
Top Shelf Brisket Quesadillas Dhs57
Vegetarian Tacos Cascabel Dhs47
Total (excl. service) Dhs201

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff  | 31 Mar 2015

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Show number 02 626 0355
Abu Dhabi, Al Khalidiya, Shop/Unit #250, First Floor Khalidiyah Mall 26th St

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