Cantina Laredo: Excellente!

It’s hip. It’s classy. It’s sassy. It’s the new kid on the block.

Cantina Laredo made its debut at The Streets of SouthGlenn mall in August to the delight of those seeking new adventure in Mexican food. Creating salsas, sauces and roasted peppers in its Centennial, Colorado, kitchen, Laredo brings nuevo Mexican cuisine to a new level. Its twist on the cuisine is in good taste. Mexican sushi? Tuna tacos? Yes, and it works.

Across from SouthGlenn’s centerpiece fountain, the restaurant has both outdoor and indoor patios. When the temperature drops, cozy up to the fireplace for cocktails or stop at the bar for happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Then continue on to the large dining room, tastefully decorated in warm earth tones – not your typical Mexican restaurant décor. Prepare yourself for fresh, new tastes.

The décor of Cantina Laredo creates an inviting atmosphere to accompany the fresh Mexican dishes.

Awaken your taste buds with two red salsas — one with a lovely smoky flavor —accompanied by a basket of paper-thin tortilla chips made in-house. And you think you know guacamole? Prepared tableside and served in an authentic molcajete, it is chunky yet smooth, with spot-on flavor, probably the best in town. Pair these with one of several specialty margaritas or a mojito and …ole!

Expect to be surprised by the complex flavors and bright colors. Cut into the camaron poblano asada, a large mild pepper wrapped in strips of tender beef to get to the melting, rich prize of shrimp and Monterey Jack cheese. The pescado del dia (fish of the day) was sea bass broiled to perfection, plated with a jalapeno beurre blanc sauce. The snap peas give the plates color and crunch.

“We’d grow our own if we had to,” said Robert Charles, one of the managers, acknowledging the importance of details.

Don’t leave without trying the Mexican apple pie. Served on a sizzling plate with Mexican brandy butter and cinnamon ice cream, this may be the best dessert on the planet. Oh my! Chocoholics may opt for the dark, rich brownies, and traditionalists may find comfort with the flan bathed in caramel sauce.

Cantina Laredo is going glam with its new tequila dinners. Four times a year Chef Ed Ledfor kicks it up a notch with a four-course dinner, each paired with a different Jose Cuervo tequila. The nuances of this Mexican spirit are often lost on the casual diner, but here the food and drink marry well, complementing each dish with its own hint of flavor — perhaps vanilla, perhaps pepper — but oh, so subtle. Pace yourself on the pre-dinner cocktails, but definitely try them, especially the baya loca margarita with blackberries and St. Germaine elderberry liqueur. Taxis are readily available for the more exuberant patrons.

Complex flavors and bright colors make up the menu at Cantina Laredo.

Vegetarian and kids’ menus are available, but you must ask for them. The server is “Happy to do it,” as sported on the lapel button of General Manager Joann Harwell. This is the mantra and commitment of the staff.

Old SouthGlenn finally got her facelift and resculpting, and Señorita Cantina is an integral part of it. Excellente!

If You Go

Cantina Laredo
The Streets at South Glenn
6851 S. Gaylord St.
Centennial, Colorado 80122

Jeanne Welsh is a longtime resident of south metro Denver with a passion for creative cooking. Reach her at [email protected].