Red Dog Cantina in Fort Lauderdale: A First Look

I know what you're thinking - another Mexican restaurant? South Florida has as many Mexican restaurants as it does plastic surgery clinics. How could we possible use any more?

Nonetheless, Red Dog Cantina opened it's doors to the taco and tequila loving public on Friday, October 19th on Sunrise Boulevard and A1A (once home to Cafe Bluefish).  The owners' last venture, Reef Road Rum Bar, won Best Reggae Scene in 2011.  

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When the waiter came up to introduce himself and take our drink order, my friend and I immediately responded with: margaritas! If you ask me, it's really the only acceptable drink to order in a Mexican restaurant.

The house margarita ($6.50) was the classic standard, rimmed with coarse salt, but unlike some of the competitors they don't skimp out of the tequila. You really get what you pay for. But if tequila isn't your thing, they also have a huge circular bar stocked with anything you could want, including corona on tap! 

The "appa-teaszers" menu is filled with things like house made guacamole ($7), flautas ($7), nachos uno ($8), and even crispy calamari ($8). Finally settling on the nachos, we were presented with a massive plate of crispy tortilla chips piled high with queso, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, jalapeños, pico de gallo, and sour cream. After licking the plate clean, it was time for soup. 

Both soups, toasted corn tortilla bisque and caldo de pollo ($3.50 for a cup or $5 for a bowl), are packed with tons of unexpected flavor and shouldn't be overlooked. 

Another item on the menu that deserves a second glance is the corn con cotija ($3). Much more than your average corn on the cob, the slightly charred kernels are topped with crumbly cotija cheese and set off with a squeeze of fresh lime. 

When it comes to Mexican food there's one absolute necessity: tacos! With more than 20 different combinations to choose from it can be difficult to make up your mind. After much debate we still couldn't decided and ordered a variety: chorizo ($3.75), shredded chicken ($3.50), and blackened mahi ($4.75). All tacos are served with the standard fixings, but the tequila lime crema takes the flavors up a notch. 

Ending the night with a round of churros ($6.50) is never a bad idea, especially when they're artfully drizzled with chocolate and served with a warm vanilla cream sauce. You can order them without the chocolate for $6, but why anyone would do that is beyond me! 

The food at Red Dog Cantina delivers upscale taste and presentation at a low cost. The drinks are strong and the staff is attentive. Promoting live music every Saturday from 11pm-3am by local reggae band, Spred The Dub, Red Dog Cantina packs a whopping triple threat: high quality food, strong drinks, and live music. We may never leave! 

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