On a continuing food tour of restaurants near the hotel I stay at near O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, there's a small Mexican restaurant that I've seen many times that I thought I'd give a try one evening - Laredo's Embassy of Mexican Food - in Rosemont. It's in the same strip center as one of my go-to Indian Restaurants in the Chicago area, Maharaja. (Click here to see my entry on Maharaja.) Actually, I was planning on going to go to Maharaja that night, but decided that a margarita would hit the spot. I went into Laredo's instead. (see map)
There's not much information on Laredo's on the Internet. I couldn't find out who the owner was, if there's any affiliation with other restaurants, or even the history of the place. Some Mexican restaurants don't like to create a lot of attention for themselves for a couple reasons I can think of. But Laredo's did have a pretty extensive web site that featured daily specials, a list of specialty margaritas and a full menu.
I went into Laredo's around 8 p.m. that cold early spring evening when winter was telling people in Chicago that it was still hanging on. Their cantina is to the left as you come into the restaurant. Large columns were on the bar and the back bar had a sort of blu-ish backlit hue to it highlighting the numerous bottle of tequila they had on hand.
The main dining area is on the right as you come into Laredo's. I was greeted by a young man and I was seated in a booth along a wall that was opposite another row of booths with a colorful painted mural on the wall. There were murals throughout Laredo's including this rather disturbing one in a back dining area. For even as late as it was in the evening for dinner, the place was about half full with more people coming in as I was there. It appeared to be a pretty popular place. My server for the evening, Nahum, came over to ask what I wanted to drink. I ordered a Patron margarita - a big one.
And he got me a big one. It was rather interesting because it had an orange, lemon and lime wedge. And it was chock full of Patron. Whew! It was packed with tequila! Nahum also brought over some chips and salsa. The chips were all right, as was the salsa. But the margarita gave me a nice little buzz.
It's your typical Mexican fare at Laredo's - beef, pork, chicken and seafood - with the usual enchiladas, burritos, and tacos. I was thinking about getting either a beef or pork enchilada, but they didn't seem to have them on the menu. Oh, they had a beef tip and a shredded beef enchilada as part of an enchilada combination dinner, but not as part of a regular entree. I saw that they had chicken enchiladas with the green tomatillo sauce, but not pork. I'm sure I could have asked if they could have made them up for me and they would have complied, but I started to look at something else - the chimichangas.
The chimichangas were described as being made with a 12" flour tortilla and you had your choice of either beef tips or chicken for $10.50. For $2.00 more, you can get steak in the chimichanga. For $3.00 more, you can get grilled shrimp. My wife and I had been to a Mexican restaurant in the Quad Cities a few nights before and she got a shrimp quesadilla with grilled shrimp. I love good flat grilled shrimp at a Mexican restaurant and decided to get that.
As I was finishing up my margarita getting ready to trade that for a Sol beer, I noticed a younger guy come out of the kitchen with a guacamole cart. A couple had just sat down at a booth across from me and he wheeled it up to their table and asked them if they wanted any fresh guacamole. I thought, "Well, crap! I would have liked to have had some fresh guacamole made up for me!" A group of three people came in after that and he wheeled the cart over to them. It's a great selling tool at a Mexican restaurant - how can you say "no" to fresh guacamole made tableside? I was actually a little bummed they didn't ask me if I wanted any.
I guess I expected the chimichanga to be a little larger than it was. And instead of whole grilled shrimp, they chopped the shrimp. I wasn't certain it was a 12" flour tortilla to begin with, but it was folded under on the ends so it could have been before it was deep-fried.
And the chimichanga was.... all right. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I was quite expecting. I didn't care for the chopped shrimp rather than the whole shrimp I normally see at other Mexican restaurants. The chimichanga was also pretty cheesy in the middle covering the taste of the shrimp pretty well. I thought back and should have ordered the beef tips in the chimichanga rather than the shrimp. I popped some of the guacamole and sour cream on top to help with the taste, but I can't say that I was impressed with the overall taste of the chimichanga.
The beans and rice were pedestrian, at best. But that's all right - I hardly ever eat refried beans and Mexican rice at restaurants any more. I've gotten to the point that I tell them to not even bring the rice and beans because they won't get eaten, even if they charge me full price.
Would I go back to Laredo's Embassy of Mexican Food? Hmmm.... possibly. For basic Mexican food fare, it was all right. The margarita - I couldn't complain about one bit. It was packed full of a generous pour of Patron. The chips and salsa were, once again, just all right. Laredo's didn't knock my socks off on my visit. But in terms of average Mexican food, it pretty much fits the bill.