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Brew Review

Down on the Boulevard They’re Drinking Hard

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By Joni Williams

 

Oh, the irony of it all. In 1980, Jackson Browne had a hit with his catchy tune  “Boulevard.” And now, 30-plus years later, the grandest of boulevards is serving as the main stage for this year’s 30A Songwriters Festival where none other than Mr. Browne himself is a headliner.

 

We are, of course, talking about Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, a most enchanting place, brimming with plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry. The upscale Fleming’s is known for its extensive wine list, and the longstanding Tommy Bahama’s for its tropical inspired cocktails. Both offer a fully stocked bar that includes beer, as does P.F. Chang’s

 

You’ll find even more beer at the newest Craft Bar location, next to Publix, where they’re also serving up those tasty craft libations you’ve heard so much about. Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Pizza, another Grand Boulevard newb, offers a well-rounded beer menu featuring dependable classics as well as some harder-to-find selections by Peroni, Brooklyn Lager, Newcastle, New Belgium and Grayton. Grimaldi’s is definitely on our “must try” list.

 

But when we were passing by on a recent, freakishly cold evening, singing that old Jackson Browne tune under our frosty breath, we just had to stop by Cantina Laredo for Happy Hour. Beers are a buck off, and wine and well drinks are $4. Hey, we’ve never pretended to be big spenders.

 

The bottled cerveza selection here consists of a variety of south of the border faves such as Modelo, Dos Equis, Tecate and Pacifico. But as much as we love us some cerveza, you don’t come here just for the beer. There’s a really good vibe here, friendly and comfortable. And they offer a fully stocked bar, a stellar assortment of tequila and mix some of the best margaritas this side of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

What’s really cool, though, is the Sangria. In addition to the fresh citrusy, moscato-based white honey option, there’s the Blood Orange made with burgundy, blood orange liqueur, juice and ginger beer. That’s right, ginger beer. Our compliments to the mixologist.

 

Our starter was lime-topped Carta Blanca, an American-style lager that’s actually a Mexican cerveza. And it’s one that drinkers either dearly love or just as dearly hate. Us? We’re lovers, and here’s why.

 

This almost pale golden is the quiet wallflower of beers with nothing overdone or overpowering. Its maltiness, hoppiness, carbonation and flavor are all well-tempered, well-meshed and subtle. Which is exactly why it pairs perfectly with food packing lots of heat, salt and crunch.

 

Not that the Cantina’s fare is typical. It’s definitely a cut above. Even the complimentary house tortilla chips are something special. Our fave? The warm salsa. And by all means, check out the rib-stickin’ eats on the bar menu—despite their downright cheap prices, they’re scrumptious and made with quality ingredients.

 

Which is why we couldn’t resist ordering the sopes de barbecoa, three good-sized, crispy puffed crackers piled high with brisket black beans, cheese and brisket. Yes, brisket, and they’re not stingy with it either. After a couple rounds, tortilla soup and the hearty brisket sopes, our tab was well under 30 bucks. We think that’s a pretty great deal.

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