Cantina 1511 is a step up from your typical Mexican fare. Sure, they still have burritos, tacos, and chimichangas, but they also have dishes that stray from the usual path. I love Mexican food flavors, but I want my food to be fresh. Cantina 1511 delivered on freshness and flavor, leaving us satisfied and maybe a little too full from eating too much. The inside was freezing when we walked in so we asked to sit on the patio. That ended up being a wonderful idea because the temperature was perfect. We sat at these cute wrought iron tables in some comfy chairs; the sconce lighting near our table was bad for taking pictures but also nice and subtle for an outdoor, evening dining experience. Before we ordered, they brought out the obligatory chips and salsa.
The chips were standard and the salsa’s were good. The red salsa was a medium/hot traditional tomato salsa and the green salsa was a tomatillo salsa, if I’m not mistaken. The green salsa had a wonderful depth to it and the kids ate it right up. I alternated between the two because they were vastly different and I liked them both.
We started our meal off with appetizers. We had just come from fishing and we were starving so we ordered three different appetizers: The Prima Guacamole, the Pigs Wings Carnitas, and the Arepas Con Cerdo.
The Prima Guacamole was everything you would want in a guacamole. The flavors were balanced and melded beautifully the longer they sat. By the end of our meal we were still eating the guacamole because it kept tasting better and better as time went on.
Initially we ordered a slider platter but were told they weren’t offering it so we switched to trying the Pigs Wings Carnitas. The idea is chicken wings but executed completely differently. These “wings” are actually petite pork shanks that have been marinated and fried. The menu says they are tossed in salted orange caramel but I failed to taste those flavors. I also failed to get a picture. They came out with two on the plate, one for me and one for my husband. He really enjoyed them but I probably wouldn’t order them again. They weren’t bad or anything, I just wasn’t crazy about them. Definitely something worth trying but once was enough for me to fulfill my curiosity.
Our final appetizer were the Arepas Con Cerdo (corn cakes for my non-Spanish speaking friends):
The Venezuelan corn cakes came out topped with pork, pineapple salsa, and cilantro. They usually also come drizzled with a habanero crema but we had the put it on the side since we have been eating dairy-free. The corn cakes were pretty good, though I have to say I have had some I liked more in other places. The real highlight of these was the fresh pineapple salsa. I enjoyed them enough to eat 2 of the 5 on the plate.
My husband and I both wanted fish tacos for our entree so we decided to split. We ordered the Baja Fish Tacos:
Neat fact about Cantina 1511: If you order tacos you get to pick your shell. They have white corn, flour or crispy corn tortilla shells. For our tacos we chose the soft white corn shells because I was after a street taco vibe. The tacos came with rice and beans and a side of slaw. The tacos themselves were delicious. The fish was grilled and the fresh catch of the day so I have no idea what type of fish it was. There was a spicy, sweet mango sauce on the tacos that really took them up a notch. My mouth was on fire but I couldn’t stop eating them. The sauce was the kind that the heat of it hits you after the fact. So, so good! The black beans and rice were also very good and fresh. I didn’t taste the slaw but honestly didn’t need to. The entree was exactly what I needed to cure my Mexican food craving.
The kids ordered cheese quesadillas which I didn’t bother to snap a picture of because they were very bland looking. They ate everything on their plates, so I am sure it would pass the kid test. Upon leaving my daughter asked me if we could please go back again, so I consider it a win. I am very happy to have found a Mexican restaurant that passes the test; On The Border was no longer cutting it. We will be back to try more things and when we do, you guys will be the first to hear about it! Until then, if you find yourself in Charlotte, make your way there and try it for yourself. You will leave there glad that you did.