Friday, March 11, 2016

Nuevo Laredo Cantina - Westside - Atlanta Georgia

You can find the Nuevo Laredo Cantina at 1495 Chattahoochee Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 right across the street from a small parking lot provided by the Atlanta Pepsi Beverages Company (yes even Pepsi has a small stronghold in this city dominated by Coca Cola). Nuevo Laredo is in the short section between Collier Rd and Marietta Blvd. There's some small amount of parking around the restaurant but most people use the lot across the street.

Long before there was a "Westside" as a destination there was Nuevo Laredo. I remember visiting this place in the early 90's for the first time - it coincided with my retiring from the restaurant biz and I remember getting quite drunk off the fine margaritas and Diablo chicken. Over the years I've visited quite a few times - mostly to drink and enjoy the patio but it had been a few years. I was visiting the nearby Monday Night Brewing with friends and after running out of tickets we decided to get a bite - since there were a few who hadn't been to this venerable Tex-Mex establishment, we ended up here with about a 45 minute wait. I know that sounds horrible, but one of the very smart things the management of this restaurant did was to provide a very efficient bar near the entrance - you can order drinks (in our case, pitchers!) and some snacks. We enjoyed chips with a great salsa and guacamole while we waited for our table.

The restaurant is small - they could easily expand to double the current size and do well, based on the crowds (of course they would also need to expand the kitchen which could be why they haven't gone that route). The upstairs has the bar to the right of the entry and a dining room to the left. There's a downstairs that isn't apparent when you walk in and the deck-patio with entry from the bar. Average wait times during the week is in the 30-45 minute range and an hour on weekends. Try to get there earlier if you can and you'll get the best food and service. The food here is Tex-Mex in general, but there's a bit more emphasis on the Mex side of the equation that makes it interesting. You'll find a good mole here and a level of spiciness that you won't find in the schwag Mexican restaurants in the burbs. The salsa is fresh with plenty of cilantro - don't bother coming here if you don't like cilantro as it's in pretty much everything or used as a garnish.

The margaritas here are quite good - love the sour-mix they use as a base and they tend to be stronger that what you're used to getting. Do yourself a favor and buy them by the pitcher - easier for everyone and you won't be fighting against the crowds of people for singles. My preference is to sit on the patio if possible but it's usually just too damn hot with Atlanta's extended summer and short fall/winter/spring. Service is quite good at Nuevo Laredo with a very knowledgeable staff however as you may have already surmised, it gets very busy here so expect to wait. The food and drink will be well worth it but be prepared to wait and order that replacement pitcher before you hit bottom. If you don't like margaritas they also have sangria - I haven't tried it but have heard that it's good. They also usually have a selection of local craft beer as well as you're typical Mexican and American favorites.

Try the cheese sauce (chile con caso) here with chorizo - simply fantastic. For the entree I gravitate towards the mole and diablo as already indicated. I haven't tried it but the tamales looked and smelled wonderful (well, maybe I had a taste and from what I remember it's quite good). By the time I had a bit this last visit I was rocking pretty hard on those pitchers. Look for the specials in the upper right corner of the menu - you can't go wrong with any of them. The rice here is much better than your typical "red" rice that you find elsewhere (can't stand that stuff) and the black beans are fantastic. Also make sure you have plenty of salsa on hand. For something a bit lighter the carne asada here is quite good - I'd recommend the tacos.

In all my last visit was everything that I remember from my first and subsequent visits. I'll be coming back.

-- John 

(also posted to Yelp)
Nuevo Laredo Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

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