Joy of Mex: Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
Generations of shoppers and tipplers have helped make Nuevo Laredo an unexpectedly good dining venue.
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Belden at Ocampo, 011-52-87-12-00-15.
The point of visiting the former, original Cadillac Bar is not to eat, though you can certainly do that here. The point is, and always has been, to have an ethereal Ramos Gin Fizz, laugh and carry on, see somebody you haven’t seen in ten years, and be well tended by infinitely patient waiters in white jackets. Worth having: crabmeat enchiladas with pico de gallo.
Guacamole: 3 (plain avocado with a bit of salt). Chips: 2.5 (thick). Salsa: 3.
Avenida Guerrero 2134, 011-52-87-15-46-66 or 14-80-18.
One of the city’s signature restaurants, this place is dark and welcoming in cool weather or warm, with marvelous hand-hewn tree trunks carved with grapevines making a kind of interior arbor. Even though the atmosphere’s spiffy, no one dresses up. The thing to have is meat—vast quantities come as part of the parrillada (mixed grill), delivered on an odd little brazier. The chicken enchiladas in homemade mole are fine too. On weekends you can count on mariachi music and folkloric dancers.
Guacamole: 3. Chips: 1. Roasted- chile salsa: 5. Pico de gallo: 3 (muy picante).
El Rincón del Viejo
Doctor Mier 4835 at González, 011-52-87-12-25-23.
If you’re going to have cabrito, have it here, where it’s tender and not as greasy as it can be. Grilled sweetbreads are perfect rolled up in a warm, homemade corn tortilla with some pico de gallo. As long as you’re indulging, share an order of gorditas, dense and indescribably delicious masa cakes (they’re loaded with lard, but one won’t kill you). Even though the decor has been modernized, the heavy carved sideboards remain, and the light is filtered through abundant foliage growing around the lovely shaded patio. Eat outside if the weather is nice. This is one of Nuevo Laredo’s don’t-miss places.
Guacamole: 4 (plain fresh avocado; ask for pico de gallo and mix it in). Chips: 4. Salsa: 5 (devilishly dark and hot).
Calle Victoria 3020, 011-52-87-13-30-20.
If Victoria 3020 didn’t look so great—with tropical plantings, tall plate-glass windows, and broad expanses of aqua and lavender stucco—I would be tempted to say the food is just average to good. But the setting is so agreeable that the shrimp seem bigger and crisper, and who cares if the salad is iceberg lettuce? Best dish tried: Mexico’s unique sábana—a huge, thin-pounded steak with grilled onions. Oh, and the limonadas are perfection.
Guacamole: 3 (avocado only). Chips: 3. Red salsa: 3.5. Green salsa: 1.