Las Palmas Cantina Brings the Flavors of the Mexican Riviera to Chandler

Las Palmas Cantina Brings the Flavors of the Mexican Riviera to Chandler

Submitted by MLN Contributor Barb Walters Harris

Sometimes our travels linger in our mind long after we get back from the trip. We remember fondly the sights, the food, the music – the vibe. This is exactly what creative restaurateur Julian Wright (Pedal Haus Brewery, Canteen Modern Tequila among the many) has captured with his latest restaurant endeavor, Las Palmas Cantina, in downtown Chandler. After years of travels to the Mexican Riviera, including Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Julian decided to embark on a new journey – bringing the beach to us, via fresh seafood, spicy meats, and creative cocktails so we could all take some time off and “get away,” albeit just down the road.

We visited Las Palmas Cantina on the first Wednesday they were open – we’d heard so much about the place and we wanted to be the first to experience. The place was hopping – the Chandler Chamber had come to check it out. Music was playing, and people were mingling – it seemed we had walked into a beach party, not just a restaurant.

We were seated right by the front “garage door” window, which looks over a huge covered patio at the front of the building. Immediately we perused the cocktail menu and asked our server for some recommendations. She clearly had her favorites, so we ordered one of them – the Sandia-Nista — reposado tequila, fresh watermelon, lime juice, cilantro, homemade spicy syrup, and house spicy salt, as well as two others that intrigued us (I mean, how can you NOT order a Jack Daniels drink that comes in a tiki glass?) Of course, there are also a few Pedal Haus brews made especially for Las Palmas.

It’s a Mexican place, so of course you get chips and salsa…but the salsa is fresh, bright and smoky all at the same time. We also ordered guacamole, which came bejeweled with pomegranate seeds for a pop of tart with every bite.

Chef Luis Millan leads the kitchen at Las Palmas and has created a menu of lighter dishes, shared plates and street-style bites. Bites like Mexican-style street corn on the cob – tasty, and packs a punch of heat, but we would have loved it if the kitchen had been a bit more generous with the sauce and cheese. Other small plates looked tasty as well, and we’ll try them on our next visit, but we needed to save room for what we came for – seafood.

What intrigued us most about the menu was the ceviche…we spent two weeks in Peru last year and not a day went by that we didn’t have some kind of ceviche at least once a day. Fresh, complex dishes from some of the most renowned food names in the world. And you know, Chef Millan’s ceviche did not disappoint. The Yucatan Corvina paired pink grapefruit, avocado, cherry tomatoes, micro cilantro, and citrus juices for a superbly bright dish; and an Open Water Tuna with green apple, avocado, micro cilantro, and agua chile rojo.

Another thing we ate a ton of in Peru was octopus, so we had to try the Fire Grilled Octopus, marinated Spanish octopus with frijoles gigantes, charred tomatoes, and cilantro. Hubby loves octopus much more than me and appreciated the way it was cooked – not often the way it is cooked here in the States. I appreciated the fabulous beans and sauce.

Our vegetarian dining companion had plenty of choices as well…mixed veggie tacos, grilled artichokes, and some crazy nachos with asadero cheese sauce, corn, crema, beans and jalapenos.

The back patio and bar weren’t open for business yet when we were there, but it looked like an amazing space to bring some friends after the sun goes down…with the food, the music and the cocktails, you’ll forget you’re in downtown Chandler. You can almost hear the waves.

Submitted by MLN Contributor Barb Walters Harris

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