This place was opened in 2005 by Mexican native Juan Francisco ‘Pancho’ Ochoa, founder of the El Pollo Loco chain and current owner of sister restaurants in McAllen and San Antonio. Palenque Grill is an authentic Mexican dining experience offering temping appetizers, delicious meat and seafood mains. Its cozy bar is the perfect spot in which to enjoy a margarita or two. Standout menu items include shrimp-stuffed tilapia with poblano cream sauce and peinecillo, Mexican-style rib-eye with grilled onions, borracho beans and toreados. Alternatively, share a selection of antojitos with friends. There are options like mole chicken enchiladas and tostada.
Palenque Grill, 1908 Aduanales Street, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 728 1272
Located just a short distance from the scenic shores of Lake Casa Blanca is El Capataz – a Latin American restaurant fusing the flavors of South Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean. Behind its modest-looking doors, El Captaz hides a stunning contemporary space blending hacienda-style rustic charm with chic, modern elements. Chef and native Laredoan Roberto Gonzalez – whose resume includes a stint at New York City’s legendary Le Bernadin– oversees the creation of dishes like the popular three-hour prime rib. This is a 13- or 23-ounce cut marinated in dry spices and served with horseradish sour cream and garlic-scented fries.
El Capataz, 7220 Bob Bullock Loop, Unit C-7, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 723 7400
With two Laredo locations, one close to Laredo International Airport and another in downtown, Las Kekas offer diners the authentic tastes of Mexican and Mayan cuisine. Dishes are served in cozy, homey surroundings. The place was opened by chef Nicholas Bellizzia and his wife and business partner Teresa Martinez in 2010. Las Kekas has since been hailed by local magazine Sabor Laredo as serving some of the most unique Mexican cuisine this side of the border. Familiar fare like tostadas, quesadillas and tacos rest comfortably alongside less well-known dishes like huitlacoche. This is an edible black fungus with a smoky, earthy taste that grows naturally on corn cobs. Guests must try the restaurant’s namesake and classic Mayan dish, kekas – a deep-fried quesadilla-like dish with fillings such as fried pork and deviled shrimp.
Las Kekas, 3914 McPherson Avenue, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 568 5936
For chic, hip ambience and eclectic international cuisine, local diners in the know head straight to Lolita’s Bistro. This is an upscale restaurant opened in the summer of 2012 by young chef and owner Gabriela ‘Maita’ Fernandez. It has been praised for its vibrant atmosphere and adventurous fare. Relax at its retro bar, where wines and beers await diners. Then take in the tastes of tempting entrees like pan-seared sea scallops with sweet potato puree or the sesame and peanut-crusted tuna with grilled asparagus and lemongrass soy sauce. Or, experience its popular weekend brunch menu with dishes like chicken and waffles, pancakes and French toast. Ideally, wash these down with a mimosa.
Lolita’s Bistro, 6950 McPherson Road, Suite C, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 568 5334
El Meson de San Agustin
A Laredo dining tradition since it first opened its doors in 1995, El Meson de San Agustin is an unassuming side-street venue. It is located in historic downtown Laredo, just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Cathedral of San Agustin. Intimate and decked out in bright, vibrant colors and rustic wooden furniture, El Meson de San Agustin is open from 11am to 4.30pm every day except Sunday. It is perfect for a relaxed daytime meal of first-rate, authentic Mexican fare. Standout dishes include poblano pepper enchiladas with red rice and beans and the filete de pescado empanizado – breaded fish served with white rice and fries.
El Meson de San Agustin, 908 Grant Street, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 712 9009/+1 956 725 9299
Based at the boutique La Posada Hotel, a historic four-building hacienda-style property is Zaragoza Grill. This is a classy fine-dining restaurant in the heart of downtown Laredo. Zaragoza Grill’s upscale Latin fare has seen it bestowed with accolades such as being listed among Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Mexican Restaurants in Texas in 2010. Standout dishes include its queso fresco tenderloin served with cilantro tortilla rice, bacon-wrapped asparagus and chili guajillo butter. The meals are accompanied by handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine list.
The Tack Room
Based within the grounds of the historic La Posada Hotel is The Tack Room. This is an upscale steakhouse serving local diners and visiting hotel guests since opening back in 1982. The restaurant occupies a National Registry of Historic Buildings recognized structure. It was formerly the home of local Laredo pioneer family, the Brunis, in the 1800s. This place features a beautiful interior including a copper-topped bar and a charming verandah overlooking the historic San Agustin Plaza. Menu highlights include the Tack Room churrasco, a seven-ounce butterflied tenderloin cut grilled with chimichurri salsa. There is also the grilled Texas quail drizzled with pasilla honey.
Border Foundry Restaurant & Bar
Perfect for diners who like a little local history with their food is the Border Foundry Restaurant & Bar. This spot is a homage to owner Pete Mims’ grandfather, who opened a local metal casting factory in the early 1900s. With a menu full of traditional American fare with a contemporary twist, this place has accolades including Best Date Night Restaurant and Best Fine Dining in Sabor Laredo’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards. First-time diners will find why Border Foundry is one of Laredo’s best local restaurants with dishes like Texas red snapper with house-made linguine and a Valencia orange and caper alfredo sauce.
Jalapenos Pizza & Wings
Often hailed as the best pizza joint in Laredo, Jalapenos Pizza & Wings is where local diners flock to for delicious, authentic New York-style pizza. Pizzas are available whole or by the slice. They can be enjoyed in Jalapenos’ lively, laid-back dining room or taken home. Try its signature namesake pizza topped with beans, chorizo, onions, tomatoes and, of course, jalapenos. Alternatively, choose the Deluxe with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, sausage, black olives, onions and green peppers. Team with sides such as BBQ wings, chicken strips and potato wedges.
Jalapenos Pizza & Wings, 9802 McPherson Road, Laredo, TX, USA, +1 956 722 7777