Every Saturday around noon I pick up my daughter from her fencing lesson on the Westside after a full morning of activity, and she is bouncy, sweaty, excited and starving. I can’t get lunch in her fast enough.
I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to take her to Nuevo Laredo Cantina until last week. I suppose because I put in the “margarita-swilling co-workers” category in my restaurant taxonomy. But, really, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it has “starving child athletic team” written all over it.
Open since 1992, Nuevo Laredo feels like a much older restaurant for its meandering dining room crammed with tables at odd angles, for its surfeit of framed photos of celebrity guests, for its lightning-fast service, for the welcome way the salsa pot sticks to the adhesive surface of the laminated red-and-white checkered tablecloths. It feels good settling in here.
My kid got this chicken taco and cheese enchilada combination platter above ($8.95) and tore into it. Partway through, her fork landed with a clanging thud on the plate.
“Wow. This is really greasy, ” she said, humbled.
Sweetie, you don’t know the half of it.
Nuevo Laredo is greasy like nobody’s business, a trait I find equally scary and charming. I have to be in the right mood for this restaurant.
I ordered this guacamole dip ($6.50) — an enormous portion of ripe mashed avocado goosed with a serious hit of hot chile. We had barely made a dent in it by time the entrees landed on the table.
I chose for my entree a plate of huevos mexicanos ($8.95) — a scramble of eggs with chiles, tomatoes, onions and lots of spices, with refried beans, rice and tortillas on the side. I’ll spare you the picture. It is an ugly, messy, soul satisfying plate of food, the kind of food that almost makes you wish you had a hangover because it would so clearly offer cure.
In a perfectly stupid hedging-my-bets move I also decided to order this shrimp enchilada à la carte ($4.95). (Like I needed it.) I really enjoyed the homey flavor of the sauce, deepened with long-cooked green bell pepper and celery. I also thought it had a generous portion of chopped shrimp inside for the price.
But, ahem, did I mention the food here can be a tad greasy?
Again, if you know what you’re getting yourself in for, then Nuevo Laredo has its merits. The margaritas help.
As the sign in the parking lot says, “Take life with a grain of salt…a wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.”