No matter how many different restaurants we try in Stamford, one of our favorite places to keep an eye out for is always a fantastic Mexican restaurant. After passing this one restaurant almost every day since we’ve lived in Stamford and saying how amazing it looked, we finally decided to give it a chance. Cantina Mexicana is located directly next to the heart of downtown Stamford, making it a prime location. When you walk in, you are transported to a tastefully decorated, home-style Mexican restaurant that immediately makes you feel welcome. One feature of Cantina Mexicana that was very impressive was the massive bar, which housed a variety of different liquors and once again was designed to please the eye. When we sat down we decided that we needed to try the special margarita, just because what is a good Mexican meal without some tequila? The drink was perfectly strong and not too sweet, which is something I appreciated. Not only was the service quick and friendly, but also extremely helpful in explaining a few of their specials and giving us recommendations on foods we shouldn’t pass up on. The fresh salsa was also amazing, leaving your mouth with the taste of a lot of fresh lime and a surprise kick of chili at the end. In my opinion, you are able to gauge how well the rest of the food is going to be after trying the salsa, which in the case of Cantina Mexicana, is going to be amazing. I am a huge fan of queso fundido, which is a take on melted cheese, or queso, usually based on the creamy and stringy Oaxaca-style cheese, so that is what we decided to dive into after we ate every last bit of the salsa. This luxurious and green chili accented dip came with fresh tortillas, which allowed us to scoop the cast-iron dish until every drop of cheese was gone. After the queso fundido, we were not nearly working on the empty stomach that we had when we walked in, but needed to try more that the menu had to offer. The tacos looked incredible, and after looking at all they had to offer, I decided to order two chorizo and two lengua (or tongue). Now, I know that tongue is a touchy subject in the food world, but this lengua was not only so tender that it melted in your mouth, but also tasted like the crispiest, most flavorful piece of steak from a ribeye. Topped with fresh onion, cilantro, and green salsa, these tacos were perfectly executed and I could have easily eaten 4 more. We also tried the enchiladas de mole, which were filled with chicken and served with one of the most authentic mole sauces I have tried here in America. The mole was tangy, filled with herbs, and had a rich-chocolatey finish. This complex sauce is one of the hardest things to perfect, but alongside the crispy enchilada and aromatic rice and beans, it was made excellently. While Stamford has a fair share of tasty and authentic Mexican restaurants, we were upset that we had not decided to try Cantina Mexicana sooner. Whether you are in the mood for chips and salsa (or a drink, or two), or home-style enchiladas and tacos, you must stop by Cantina Mexicana, and be prepared to walk out a bit more stuffed than you were walking in!
488 Summer Street, Stamford, CT 06901