Cantina 1511 $$
1511 East Blvd.
HOURS: Sun.–Wed. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Thurs.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
COST: Most entrées between $10–20
Even in the dead of winter, the atmosphere inside Cantina 1511 is pure Cinco de Mayo. It’s common to see groups of margarita-drinking revelers squeezed together at tables, laughing loudly and shouting to be heard over the crowds at other tables.
Here, dinner is a party.
Start with the fresh guacamole made tableside, and save room for dessert—the Nutella pie, a sinful concoction of hazelnuts and cream in a wafer crust, is not to be missed. Between the appetizers and desserts, the menu is filled with Mexican dishes like barbacoa de puerco, pescado Yucatan, and chicken Milanese tacos.
Owner Frank Scibelli has spent countless hours in Mexico, learning traditional recipes from local chefs and scouring markets for the freshest and most authentic ingredients. Like the guacamole, the tortillas, salsas, and cheeses are also made in-house.
Order one of 40 different tequilas to sip alongside the camarones mojo y ajo.
If there’s a line for a table—and there often is, especially if you’re clamoring for one of the coveted patio seats—wait it out in the bar with a margarita and a bowl of homemade tortilla chips and fresh salsa.
Reservations are recommended, but be warned that it’s common for diners to order extra rounds and linger, so you may have to wait for a table even if your name is in the book.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition