Dear Mexican Food:

A love story

Allow me to make a bold statement: Mexican food is my favorite ethnic food choice. It is always delicious, always festive, always spicy, and never far from a sombrero or margarita. This brings me to my second point. I make it my business to eat throughout the Queen City, and had yet to visit Cantina 1511. I had tasted a few nibbles of Cantina's fare at Charlotte Magazine's B.O.B. awards in May, but had not made the trip to the Mexican eatery myself.

On a rainy day like Saturday, there was not better choice than spicy food at Cantina. After skimming through pages of options, I settled on the back page of tacos. I thought I'd try one traditional and one completely different. Choice one: Pato Carnitas — A hard-shelled taco with shredded duck cooked in mantecca (think of it like Mexican bacon fat) then grilled. The duck is then topped with pickled onions, fresh avocado, and jalapeno tomatillo salsa. Choice two: Tacos al Pastor — A more traditional choice with slow roasted pork seasoned with achiote (a Mexican spice blend made from grinding annatto seeds) and topped with shredded cabbage, grilled pineapple, and habanero cream. 

The duck taco was extremely different but the flavors worked well. I found that the avocado provided a welcome coolness next to the gamey flavor that duck can have. The vinegar-ish bite from the onions also played well into the mix. Overall, very interesting. I would definitely try it again, perhaps with a soft-shell taco. The pork, my go-to at almost every Mexican restaurant, was beautifull executed, and the pineapple was perfect against the spiced carnitas. Of course, I'll be the first to sing the praises of anyone who pairs fruit with pork, so this was no exception to the rule. 

I washed everything down with a house margarita. A tad on the sweet side for my taste, but it proved to be a welcome coolness once the tacos were on the table. Also, as a sidenote, the salsa brought to the table with fresh-made tortillas was amazing — full of fresh cilantro and just enough heat.

I know Cantina has been a staple in Charlotte for quite some time, but if you have not had a chance to visit this Mexican eatery, I encourage you to head to one of their locations on either East Blvd or Rea Rd. 

Categories: Dine & Dish, Food + Drink