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La Cantina: Authentic Mexican cuisine in Hancock

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La Cantina: Authentic Mexican cuisine in Hancock

The murals painted on the backs of the booths feature beautiful landscapes and bright, vibrant art of Mexican imagery. The booth themes seem to have a western, desert impression to them.

The murals painted on the backs of the booths feature beautiful landscapes and bright, vibrant art of Mexican imagery. The booth themes seem to have a western, desert impression to them.

The murals painted on the backs of the booths feature beautiful landscapes and bright, vibrant art of Mexican imagery. The booth themes seem to have a western, desert impression to them.

The murals painted on the backs of the booths feature beautiful landscapes and bright, vibrant art of Mexican imagery. The booth themes seem to have a western, desert impression to them.


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The Upper Peninsula has no lack of exotic, authentic restaurants, and when it comes to Mexican cuisine, one of the best places for a casual dinner is La Cantina. This cozy little place opened its doors for the first time last year, just in time for the Winter Carnival. Since then, the residents of the towns of Hancock and Houghton have been their regular customers.

The menu boasts an enormous variety of traditional Mexican dishes with the most satisfying flavors right for every person’s palate. The bistro provides an immense variety of lunch combos as well. The most sought-after dishes include the Burrito Special, which is topped with a red sauce, lettuce, sour cream, a generous amount of tomatoes and rice. The place especially has a lot of options for seafood enthusiasts with a Seafood Chimichanga option stuffed with crab meat, shrimp, peppers, tomatoes and onions served with rice, beans and guacamole salad. Similarly, the Veracruz Plate is a dish made of grilled shrimp, onions, mushrooms and served with rice and tortillas. These platters can be served with a side dish of tostadas, tamales, chalupas and chile relleno (a stuffed chili pepper).

The house specials have a list of established classics like Quesadilla Fajita which is a combination of chicken or steak for the fajita meat with cheese inside flour grilled tortillas served with a side of lettuce, beans, sour cream and guacamole dressing; Flautas which are conventionally deep-fried tortillas served with pico de gallo, which is also known as salsa fresca or salsa cruda, and is made from chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, fresh serranos, salt and lime juice occasionally combined with shrimp or avocado to enhance the tangy-spicy blend. The house has a special dinner dish as well which includes chalupas, chile relleno, beef tacos, enchiladas and tamales served with rice and beans.
The restaurant takes the particulars of its vegetarian customers into account with almost every dish available in a vegetarian counterpart, while the meat-lovers have something of a haven with a whopping number of delicacies to choose from. One of the local favorites is the Pollo Encremado, which has grilled strips of chicken mushrooms and jalapenos served with a creamy sauce and tortillas, second only to Choripollo.

Some of the dishes are a little pricier for a college student’s budget, but are well worth the money, such as the Montezuma Molcajete which has everything from steak, pork and other varieties of meat and seafood grilled with mushrooms, squash, Mexican onions and nopal (a cactus common in many Mexican dishes with a taste similar to green beans but with a very different texture) marinated in a green sauce before covering it in Chihuahua cheese. This dish is served in a traditional stone grinding bowl accompanied with rice, beans, guacamole salad and tortillas. The restaurant has a special menu for kids and a few options for desserts including the Mexican custard dessert, flan, as well as churros and fried ice cream. The bar serves margaritas and daiquiris, and a few varieties of beer and wine, including Mexican beers as well as American beers.

The co-owner Denisse Aranda vouches that her food is the best and authentic to the core, made with age-old recipes. The owners also have outlets in Iron Mountain and Wisconsin. The staff here is welcoming and starts the customers out with nachos and red sauce. The interior is designed with the typical lighting of a Mexican dining establishment with low hung lights, bold colors and interesting paintings depicting traditional scenes or dress in the background. Altogether, La Cantina continues to be a landmark and a highlight situated on 101 E Quincy Street, Hancock for Mexican cuisine aficionados and a must visit place in the UP.

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La Cantina: Authentic Mexican cuisine in Hancock