Cantina 18 at Cameron Village has been serving up fresh, Southwestern food since March 2010. Chef Jason Smith is committed to using local North Carolina ingredients whenever possible in his creative, colorful dishes and you can really tell a difference in the quality of the food.

Not only is the food delicious, Cantina 18 has an amazing drink menu. The restaurant has the most unique sangria I’ve ever had. Liz recently moved to Oregon and her last request was to come to Cantina 18 to have a glass of sangria with her closest friends. We ordered a few glasses (you caught me, two pitchers) of sangria. The first pitcher was the strawberry vanilla bean sangria. I especially love this sangria when North Carolina strawberries are in season! This sangria is one of the many reasons why I keep on coming back to Cantina 18. We also tried the blackberry ginger sangria, which was refreshing on such a hot summer day. Cantina 18 switches up their drink menu depending on the season so it’s always interesting to see what they will come up with next.

You can’t go wrong with the cornmeal crusted mahi-mahi tacos and guacamole. The taco has a generous portion of crispy mahi-mahi and is topped with a delicious, tangy tomatillo sauce and marinated onions. There are more than eight types of unique tacos you can try at Cantina 18 like the vegetarian, which includes sweet potatoes and goat cheese. I always order a small side of Cantina 18’s house made guacamole to go with my meal. The guacamole has the perfect amount of lime and a creamy texture. It’s hard to resist filling up on just chips and guacamole!

Courtney and Liz split an order of the short rib nachos. Notice I said split! The nachos could feed an entire army, for 10 bucks I’d say it’s quite the deal. Cantina 18’s chips are piled high with fresh corn, queso, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, black beans, goat cheese, sour cream, and short ribs. The short ribs are extremely tender and there is a hefty amount of meat in the dish. The mixture of warm queso and goat cheese adds a creamy element to the nachos along with an excellent, robust flavor. Courtney and Liz swear by these nachos and order them every time we go to Cantina 18.

At the end of our meal the waitress brought us out a surprise, homemade Mexican chocolate rum cake topped with whipped cream. The hot spices in the cake paired nicely with the chocolate chips, and of course you can’t go wrong when you add rum to cake! What a nice sweet treat.

Next time you’re in Greater Raleigh stop by Cameron Village for some shopping and make some time to grab a bite to eat at Cantina 18. The menu has so much to choose from including specialty tacos, quesadillas, burritos, wraps, salads, fajitas, and more. Follow Cantina 18 on Twitter to learn more about their drink and food specials too. Make sure you drink a glass of sangria for me!

Written by Foodie Kristen.