A Texas-based chain has announced plans to open 35 outlets in the British Isles, saying the expansion will help eaters across the pond learn the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines.
"In the UK, we consider Tex-Mex and Mexican food to be one and the same," the first Cantina Laredo franchisee in Europe explained in a release. "Tex-Mex restaurants really don't represent the depth and variety of authentic Mexican food, nor the skill required to prepare it. That's where Cantina Laredo steps in."
Londoners have lately embraced Tex-Mex, with Time Out London noting an incipient burrito craze: Chipotle Mexican Grill opened its first London location this year.
Cantina Laredo, which has 10 restaurants in the DFW area, classifies its offerings as "gourmet Mexican food." While it's unclear from the chain's web site what's meant by "Mexican," the newest gourmet items on the U.S. menu include a cranberry pecan salad, chicken peanut salad, avocado enchiladas and enchiladas made with portabellos and goat cheese.
Cantina's parent company, Consolidated Restaurant Operations, isn't the only franchiser to have come down with a case of Anglophilia. According to a June report in the Evening Standard, "London has become the target of an unprecedented invasion of American chefs and restaurateurs." Realtors say a strong dollar and Gordon Ramsey's success have made the area more attractive to fast casual chains and well-known chefs; Keith McNally, April Bloomfield and Adam Perry Lang all have London projects planned.