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Saturday 20 July 2019
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Good Eats at Cantina Laredo: Modern, high-end Mexican food at its finest, don’t overlook brunch at this River North hotspot

By Dante Vaisbort 

Where it’s at: 508 N. State. 312-955-0014. CantinaLaredo.com

The scene: Cantina Laredo lies in the heart of River North, and embodies sleek, urban modernity. The extensive complex is dominated by wall-to-wall glass paneling and chic fireplaces. Seating options include tables, booths, the bar and private dining rooms for larger parties. The ambiance is soothing; Mexican music plays quietly over the muted sounds of other diners.

The seasonal ceviche was a refreshing mix of melons and shrimp. … The flavors were simple and robust, and certainly excited us for the food to come.

Food and drink: Cantina Laredo’s new brunch menu is a blend of high-class offerings and traditional fare with an elegant twist. The dishes trend toward a modern Mexican approach to an American breakfast, with nods of recognition to Chicago, of course. An increasing amount of the food is crafted in-house, including their delicious tortilla chips and salsa.

The seasonal ceviche was a refreshing mix of melons and shrimp, composing a balanced citrus mix. The flavors were simple and robust, and certainly excited us for the food to come. We devoured our second appetizer, the goat cheese and beet flatbread. The flavors of sesame and salt contrasted with the goat cheese and fresh beets into a perfectly delicious bite.

Our main course was the asada y huevos, which consisted of perhaps the best skirt steak I’ve ever had, slathered in chimichurri, fluffy scrambled eggs and potatoes. While the dish may not have been traditional Mexican food by any stretch, the preparation of the steak and eggs was undeniably superb.

What caught our eye: The experience Cantina Laredo provides is outstanding — from the atmosphere to the service and food presentation. The layout makes use of the restaurant’s generous space, and the modern decor is inviting and comfortable. The environment makes it an ideal place for weekend brunch, grabbing cocktails or hosting a stylish dinner party.

We’ll be back because: Cantina Laredo provides a well-polished dining experience and does an excellent job of producing thoughtful, refined dishes. The establishment’s recent shift toward local sourcing and more in-house production — while still offering their signature brand of sophisticated, Mexican-inspired dishes — is a major draw. Their new brunch menu is, in many ways, the debut of the cantina’s evolution.