Cantina Laredo The Guacamole Aficionado

13th December 2017

Being part of a restaurant group and an American institution hasn't always been beneficial to Cantina Laredo's credentials since opening over 7 years ago, so it wasn't a surprise to see they had conducted a significant rebranding recently along with an updated menu and a slick renovation of their dining spaces.

The decor has been made pristine white compared to my last visit a few years back with well-cushioned leather seating in most parts. Although, the interior lighting was rather too bright to the point my neighbouring diner had to request a seat change. You do have to admire their refined and elegant interpretation of a modern-day Mexican restaurant without a piñata in sight; I just observed subtle Mexican motifs in the design, what looked like agave plants and copious amounts of tequila bottles on display.

Guacamole is their specialty here and I haven't been to a Mexican restaurant where they offer 8 different types of this classic dish with varying degrees of heat. My eyes were drawn immediately to the guacamole con chapulines, which included crunchy grasshoppers, although we settled on the guacamole de queso azul. It was the type of ‘Marmite' guacamole that you either love or hate. Personally, I loved the richness of the blue cheese combined with the creamy smoothness of the avocado, although my host thought it was rather overpowering.

There were some elements of cultural appropriation in their Entradas section as yellowtail tiradito is traditionally a Peruvian dish, but nevertheless, we joyously devoured these slippery morsels of delight. It was excitingly flavoured with lime agua chile with a jicama and served with a cucumber and radish salad. What I liked about the tiradito was it wasn't overly citrusy, unlike a ceviche dish which has been cooked in citrus juices for a considerable amount of time.

Chicken skewers had an appetising caramelised texture with the tender meat seasoned with an agave chile glaze. The tortillas are a great way to try some of their meat dishes at a fraction of the cost of the main dishes. We had a delightful 28 day aged ribeye steak corn tortilla and the high-quality nature of the ingredients they source was undeniable. The meat was cooked to an inviting pink colour and the tortilla had a grey tinge, which I suspect might mean it's charcoal-based and supposedly very healthy.

The jumbo prawn (yes singular) was pricey at £23 but the meat was plump and substantial and the guajillo achiote butter made it addictively, great tasting.

What better way to enjoy your meal then to pair it with some expertly-crafted cocktails. We tried some of the smoothest, most sippable tequila-based cocktails around. In particular, I would recommend, The Juan That Got Away with ultra-premium  Casamigos Blanco and heavenly Del Maguey Crema De Mezcal (notes of vanilla, pear, creamy almond) and it was completed with watermelon and basil. If I was on death row and had the choice of one last cocktail, it will most definitely be The Juan That Got Away.

If you are a fan of high-quality, refined Mexican food, then bring your sunglasses and head down to Cantina Laredo soon.
For more information on Cantina Laredo see here.
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