When someone tells us we should try a new Mexican restaurant I usually take their recommendation with a grain-of-salt. This week we were driving by Wesley Chapel, which is about 50 miles from our home, so decided to try the Cantina Laredo. This bills itself as a modern Mexican restaurant. Although there are a lot of Mexican restaurants around, very few can meet our expectations—Cantina Laredo exceeded our expectations and was AMAZING!
Our waiter was Tails Randall and he was amazing. Obviously a foodie, who has been around and loves his job. This is a fancy-looking restaurant in one of the Tampa area’s nicest malls, Shops at Wiregrass. Because this is not a stand-alone building, we drove around for five or ten minutes trying to find it. We finally called and they gave us more precise directions about its location. You do not have to go in the mall but you have to look for it. Of course, we turned right when we drove in at the main traffic light and it was on the left.
We are pretty unsophisticated in the type of Mexican food we eat, which is obvious from my other reviews on TripAdvisor. From what we found at this restaurant our past choices were obviously due mostly to what was available. Cantina Laredo has all types of what I consider gourmet dishes, including pork, steak, fajitas and chicken.
After you sit down, as is customary in most Mexican restaurants, they bring you a bowl of chips and dip. At this restaurant the chips are hot and fresh and the waiter explained that they make two types of salsa fresh every morning. The salsa was great, nothing like I had ever experienced before. One salsa was a dark black-pepper sauce, while the other was a red sauce. My wife and I found it hard to determine which one was the hottest, simply because they were both so good.
We both ordered a combination plate, with a cheese enchilada, a chicken fajita soft taco, fried rice and refried beans. Everything was very tasty! The cheese enchilada had several ingredients that made it tastier than other enchiladas I have ever tasted, including chopped onions. The soft taco had chicken that was shredded like you would ordinarily find it in a fajita, topped with shredded lettuce and sour cream. The rice was also very moist and tasty—I usually eat very little rice, because it is often dry and grainy. I ate the entire plate. The only thing that my wife and I varied on with this order was the beans. She ordered refried beans and I ordered bean soup, both were tasty and delicious.
One of their specialties here, that we were told to order was guacamole prepared at our table. Several other tables ordered it, and it looked great, but as we anticipated, the combination meals were plenty.
When we were ready to leave, Tails came to our table bragging about what great desserts they had. He recommended a brownie with ice cream dish, and an apple pie. Although we do not normally order dessert, we went with the apple pie.
I apologize for again using the word amazing, but this dessert was well above our expectations. Tails came out with three plates of ingredients: home-made apple pie; freshly made caramel topping; home-made cinnamon ice cream; and a wooden dish containing a hot skillet. He place a large piece of pie on the skillet, poured caramel on top of the pie, it sizzled and melted all over the pie and skillet; then followed all this up with a large scoop of ice cream, which he dropped on top of the pie and then place the wooden block with the sizzling skillet in the middle of the table for my wife and I to share. This has to be the most unique and tasty dessert we have ever tasted, and we have been around!
The ambiance at this restaurant is fancy, but the price is very reasonable. Three different combo enchilada meals are slightly over $9. The guacamole is $9.99. I consider the home-made apple pie a bargain at $6.79 and on our next visit might start my meal with that.
Cantina Laredo has a less costly lunch menu and what Tails described as an excellent Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Our favorite Mexican restaurant, for years, has been Carlos and Peppy’s in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (see my review here). We put Cantina Laredo on the same level. If both restaurants were side-by-side, it would be a really hard-to-make decision about which one to go to. Strange part is that we do not eat that many desserts, but Cantina Laredo does not have fried ice cream, which we usually get in Fort Lauderdale; but the caramelized apple pie at Cantina Laredo is wonderful! Each restaurant has its own great food, we are 50 miles from one and 350 from the other so obviously the Cantina Laredo wins on that basis. If you like Mexican food and are anywhere near Tampa, don’t miss it, and even if you aren't a dessert fan, you have to try the apple pie here.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.