One of these days this past week I didn’t feel like cooking or cleaning the results of having to cook after work. I just didn’t. Lucky for me, Patrick decided that he’d go with me to Catina 76 because the fried chicken waffles on the menu intrigued him. The menu intrigued me too, and their restaurant week special of an appetizer, one entree, and a dessert or margarita for $12.99 a person an seemed like a good deal too.
We got there and had to wait about ten minutes for a table because it was pretty packed for a weeknight, I thought. The decor and details in Cantina 76 are really cool. It’s darkened and lit with Christmas lights and other funky light sources, complete with a roaring (gas) fireplace. Did you know that gas fire is real? I thought it was a hologram. The things you learn.
I started with a strawberry basil margarita, which I had really high hopes for. Patrick had the original margarita. The strawberry basil was good. It wasn’t as sweet or tangy as I anticipated, and the strawberry chunks kept getting caught in the straw but by God, I finished that whole margarita minus the chunks.
My appetizer of choice was a white queso dip which was very good, like what you’d find at most Mexican joints. Patrick got the collard soup, which wasn’t very soupy but still good, he said. Any instance of him eating greens is a good one, even if those greens are collards.
Then our tacos came. I got two veggie tacos and jalepeno cole slaw as my side.The jalapeno cole slaw wasn’t hot, which I asked about when ordering. But it wasn’t exciting either. It was cole slaw with some cilantro and a few de-seeded jalapenos mixed in. I was expecting something a little more inventive but again, the things you learn. The veggie tacos consisted of refried beans, cheese, and tomatillo sauce (please excuse the bad Instagram photo below. The lighting was dim). These tacos were okay. I was expecting my palate to be excited by the food, but it wasn’t what I’d imagined.
Patrick ordered outside of the RW special menu and got a fried chicken taco and the Peruvian shrimp taco. He said he was not excited by the fried chicken one, but that the shrimp one was pretty good.
Overall, Cantina 76 is alright. This isn’t your usual Mexican fare, it’s white people-ized Mexican and that’s okay, but not entirely what I expected. The ideas on the menu are inventive and interesting, which is what drew us there, but the execution didn’t follow through as much as I wish it would have. Or maybe it’s just that I am a fan of more flavorful, gooey, saucy dirrrty (and I don’t mean ‘unsanitary’) Mexican food than I am of the modern, cleaned up take on Mexican fare that Cantina 76 serves up. Would I go back here? Maybe, if I was going with a group of people that were going there anyways.