by Ella Pritchard
When I went into Cantina Laredo, I kept seeing “Modern Mexican” everywhere, so when I interviewed Rambo Saucedo, the chef teaching the lesson in tamales, I asked what he thought that meant. He said it means that they keep the flavors of the past, the traditional dishes and add a little more. It was my first time at Cantina Laredo and I went to their tamale-making class, but after being there and interacting with the staff, I will be back.
The attentiveness of the staff was amazing. As soon as we sat down, they took our drink orders and brought the first of 3 cocktails. I don’t drink, so they brought me a virgin margarita. I had people at my table that were regulars though, and they recommended the cincorita as the best Cantina Laredo cocktail. It’s not on the menu anymore, but if you ask for it, they will make it.
They also brought out several delicious-looking Vegan dishes for our Vegan tablemate and provided substitutes for everything she needed during the class portion as well. I was very impressed with how they were able to be so accommodating for her.
The staff was so helpful and attentive the whole time. When we walked in, they sat us down at a table where they had everything we needed to make the tamales layed out. Everything was organized so well, from our tools and ingredients to our time. When the class started, Chef Rambo did the demo at the front. It was very detailed, but not boring. He answered all of our questions and told stories as we learned how to make, press, fill, and seal the masa. The other staff members walked around and gave some more hands-on instruction and cleared all of our trash.
There was so much thought and organization put into every detail, and you can really tell they care. We had 15-20 minutes of instruction from Chef Rambo and then he gave us 20 minutes to make as many as we could and then you get to take them home. After the 20 minutes were up, they gave us a sticker to write our names on our little collection of tamales, and then they took everything off the table.The tamales took about an hour and a half to steam, so I recommend having good company with you.
Appetizers were served every half hour until we got our tamales. They started off by giving us chips and their house roasted tomato salsa which they made over an open flame grill, this was one of the best salsas I have ever had, and a warm tomatillo salsa. They then brought out tostadas, chicken, beef, skirt steak, cheese and a wonderful guacamole. After that they brought out chicken quesadillas, and then chicken flautas, all beautifully presented. Chef Rene Medina, who has been working there for 17 years, prepared all of these dishes.
They brought one of our tamales out on a little plate for us to try and packaged the rest up for us to take home. After the class I stayed a little longer and asked Chef Rambo some questions. In the DFW area, there are two locations, Addison and Frisco, but there are Cantina Laredo’s all over the world. The Frisco location is where managers go to train.
Chef Rambo stated that the signature dish is the Camaroon Poblana Asada: a Poblana pepper stuffed with shrimp, mushrooms, and jack cheese, wrapped in grilled skirt steak and covered in a chimichurri sauce and served with charred street corn and cilantro lime rice. Chef also believes, “The best conversations happen around the dinner table.” and I agree. My experience at Cantina Laredo was an amazing one. I highly suggest it, I know that I will be back. To book a class, check our their website and social media.