Location: 40 Bowden Square, Southampton, NY 11968
Best Dish: Robalo Rayados (Striped Bass) Enchilada is not your typical enchilada. Union Cantina serves it up as a deconstructed style with a few layers of the soft enchilada mixed with a crispy tostada style shell and flavors including queso blanco cheese, cucumber, avocado and their house enchilada sauce, which make this decadent dish worth biting into and saving all your room.
Overall: A great option for low-key dining in the Hamptons with no pretentious vibes. A good choice if you’re looking for a more casual hang out spot with great cocktails.
Union Cantina recently opened its doors in the heart of Southampton, run by the same team behind mainstay Southampton Social Club. Union Cantina’s menu features rustic and inventive Mexican fare from Executive Chef, Scott Kampf. Kampf utilizes fresh local ingredients in the dishes and Union Cantina’s extensive cocktail menu offers something great for everyone, whether you’re looking for a great tequila (their 400 Rabbits Tequila Bar features over 100 different tequilas to sample), a margarita, or a more adventurous choice with a mixology style cocktail such as the Mezcal Mule. The menu offers staples such as more traditional Mexican appetizers like quesadillas and queso dip, along with other Mexican staples including tacos, enchiladas and entrée options. The menu certainly is diverse, however, you can easily fill up on the tasty homemade salsa and appetizers, so save room for the deconstructed enchiladas, which are the real crowd pleasers here.
Don’t take these sliders for just any sliders; the sliders are made with black Angus beef with thick cut peppered bacon, queso cheese, avocado corn relish and spicy banana ketchup (essentially made with plantains), so the flavors all work well together.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
These poblano peppers are juicy and filled with lump crab blended with red quinoa and a Mexican cheese blend. Rich and filling, so you don’t need more than one order, especially as you save room for the main course.
Costilla De Res (Beef Short Rib) Tacos
Made with fresh tomatoes, black beans and avocado relish, the zinger with these beef short rib tacos is the use of the chef’s mole cream to bring out more of the flavor of the short rib. The taco shells can get soggy quickly, so don’t leave them for too long on your plate.
Langosta (Lobster) Tacos
Similar to the Beef Short Rib Tacos, the chef utilizes a fresh pico de gallo along with fresh avocado and mixes things up with a lime roasted poblano cream for just the right amount of seasoning that doesn’t overpower the tastiness of the lobster meat.
Robalo Rayados (Striped Bass) Enchiladas
This is by far the best dish on the menu, as the enchiladas are not your typical enchilada and are deconstructed as the soft enchiladas are cleverly mixed with a hard tostada shell layer. The Robalo Rayados is a mild fish too so it was tasty and worked well with the blend of queso blanco cheese, cucumber, pico de gallo, fresh avocado and a house enchilada sauce. You will want to keep digging in as the layers of soft and crunchy goodness hit your fork.
Camarones Carbonizado (Charred Shrimp)
Seasoned with sweet corn, scallion and tomato salsa, the shrimp are charred and served over a bed of yellow rice and cauliflower. This was the least exciting dish as the shrimp could stand alone without all the extra charring which overwhelmed the dish. Stick with the Enchilada as your main course.
You have probably ordered Yucca Fries before and been disappointed because they were too crunchy or lacked flavor. Union Cantina knows how to do their Yucca Fries right as they are cooked to perfection and are a nice compliment as a side.
The Cadillac Margarita
Lacking no flavor at all and strong, the Cadillac Margarita is a great alternative to your classic margarita as it’s topped with Grand Marnier.
The Social Cooler
If you like spice, this is the drink for you. The Social Cooler features jalapeno infused Don Julio Blanco Tequila (blanco is the standard for tequilas), watermelon puree and fresh lime on the rocks. A great blend of flavors with just the right amount of spice.
The classic Moscow Mule with its usual use of ginger beer, fresh lime and bitters is revamped with the use of Mezcal to balance out these typical flavors and is a great choice if you like Mezcal and want something refreshing.
Tropical fans, you’ll love this as this margarita takes you straight to the islands. The Guava-Rita is made with Cabo Wabo Tequila, guava puree, and lime. Simple, tasty and tropical.
Union Cantina is a great choice if you’re looking for low-key dining in the Hamptons with a great ambiance and solid food. While Mexican is pretty traditional and it’s hard to be inventive, the chef’s use of seasonal ingredients and flavors for the dishes works well. Because of the variety of options available and as every dish isn’t award-winning, save room for the enchiladas which are the star and skip the tacos and main entrees. The tequila menu is impressive, extensive and inventive, so there is sure to be something to please even the pickiest of cocktail connoisseurs as well.
-Alyson S. Campbell