Meet Me for BrunchOct 01, 2017 ● By Dru Bickham
When you walk into the restaurant, its atmosphere immediately welcomes you and pulls you inside. With dimmed lighting and soft music drifting between the tables, there is a comfortable and cozy feel about the whole place. To the left and right were ample tables and booths, and in the middle, there was a bar with plenty of stools and seating around televisions, in case you wanted to watch soccer or other sports on the screens. Through the windows, I could see a lovely patio area with outdoor string lights glowing, lighting tables and making me wish it was not raining so I could sit there. I imagine in the cooler spring and fall months, or even on a balmy evening in the summer, it is a delightful spot to enjoy a margarita or two.
We were immediately seated at the table of our preference. As someone who will always opt for a booth if given the choice, I really appreciated this. Starting off with some classic chips and salsa, we perused our brunch menus to see what specials they had to offer.
As far as appetizers (or tapas) went, many of the options tempted us, including the Chicken Flautitas with poblano sauce and the Carnitas Sliders topped with goat cheese and apricot jam. We went for the classic move: queso. Let’s be honest, is it ever too early in the day to enjoy some queso? Between the two options, we chose the house specialty, Queso Laredo, which comes with delicious ground sirloin and pico de gallo mixed in. The meat and the fresh veggies perfectly balanced out the savory cheese, and the thin, crisp chips were the perfect vehicle for dip-to-mouth transportation. We were almost tempted to try the guacamole, as we watched another customer order the restaurant’s Top Shelf Guacamole, made tableside, fresh to order. Made with only the best Hass avocados, ripe tomatoes and crisp onions, it is easy to see why this was a fan favorite. We thoroughly enjoyed our Queso Laredo, nearly filling up on the tapa itself. We managed to restrain ourselves and save room for what was to come.
When it came to ordering an entrée, I was stumped. My typical brunch order, French toast (Tostar De Frances), was staring me right in the face, enticing me. Topped with fruit and served with a Mexican brandy butter and maple syrup, my mouth was watering and I was almost swayed to order it. The Crab Cakes Benedict also intrigued me, but in the end, I went with the Chilaquiles, topped with two eggs over medium. My friend went for the Asada y Huevos, two bright and sunny over-easy eggs with ranchero sauce, sitting next to a sizzling sirloin served with Chimichuri sauce. Both dishes were served with an assortment of fruit, including mangoes, a pleasant surprise, and a sort of Mexican-style potatoes gratin, which was mouth-watering. But all this was nothing compared to the complimentary mimosas made with fresh orange juice that we both received with our entrées. That is right, I said complimentary! We also had the choice of a Bloody Maria, made with tequila instead of vodka, or the old favorite itself, Bloody Mary.
Now, I usually do not go for dessert at brunch because of my aforementioned typical order of French toast. My sweet tooth gets pretty satisfied by all that syrup and powdered sugar, but having opted for the savory route on this day, we splurged and asked for a dessert menu.
Always the choc-o-holic in the room, my sights zeroed in on the Mexican Brownie option. In my opinion, cinnamon and chocolate are a heavenly combination, so the brownie was a huge competitor in this decision. Then, I saw the Mexican Apple Pie on the menu and I made up my mind. When it came, our waiter carefully placed the slice on a hot skillet, poured Mexican brandy butter over it until it sizzled and steamed and topped the whole ensemble with an enormous scoop of cinnamon ice cream. We absolutely devoured that poor slice of pie, with no regrets.
My satisfied appetite aside, everyone knows it is more than the food that really makes a restaurant. Attentive service and the overall feel to an environment are also major factors in leading to happy customers, and I can say that in these areas, Cantina Laredo excels. There is a feeling of friendliness and caring while you are there. We were continuously checked on and attended to. We were even visited by the manager, as he made sure to reach all the patrons and ensure everything was perfect. He personally thanked us all for coming. Cantina Laredo’s staff made sure that everyone felt at ease and relaxed, and what other way is there to have brunch, after all?
As the waiters and other employees walked around serving and checking on patrons, I listened to them. They visited tables where they spoke fluent Spanish with customers, laughing and joking and asking them how they were. The friendly and welcoming feel that drifted between the tables as these people spoke in their native language, so carefree and at ease, was relaxing. There was something so homey and familiar about it all. And there was no rush. We could have stayed there all afternoon, ordering mimosas and queso, and it was clear that we would have been just as wanted as when we first sat down.
If you are looking for a brunch spot that is a little outside the expected these days, something that is not your average chicken and waffles or eggs benedict pop stand, and you are in the mood for authentic Mexican cuisine, I highly recommend Cantina Laredo. I will definitely be returning for a happy hour soon, which will not be too difficult since it is every weekday from 4-7 p.m., again from 9 p.m. to close and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. I have my eye on their Strawberry Mint Margarita and on their Cantina Mojito. The location cannot be beat either, as it is nestled right in the Legacy Commons area with easy access to the Dallas North Tollway and Texas State Highway 121. This restaurant made me feel like I would be invited back for any meal, any day, and I intend to make good on that.