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[MSP] Celebrate spring at the Lake Street Taqueria Crawl/Chowdown

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About a week ago I was hit hard by a serious case of spring fever, which has now been almost completely cured by these back-to-back snowstorms. Yet, I wanted to feel like there was a bit of hope out there. So, I've decided to anticipate spring by planning a meandering taqueria crawl/chowdown along Lake Street for the afternoon of Sunday, March 25, which is the first Sunday of spring. Think of it as "pre-Cinco de Mayo" chowconnaissance. Think salsa! Hot hot hot!

I've been particularly inspired by this piece of Dara's and wanted to maybe explore 2-3 spots she mentions, as well as scout out any little groceries or mom and pop restaurants in the general vicinity (i.e., on the same block or so) of these places. Just really get out and explore. I think there are a zillion little chowish spots along Lake Street, just waiting to be discovered.

http://citypages.com/databank/25/1247...

I figure this chowdown would work similarly to the Midtown Global Market Chowdowns where we each put $5.00 into a common kitty at the start of the afternoon, then take turns buying chow out of the kitty to share with the group. This one will be a bit more logistically challenging then the other chowdowns because we'll need to hop in our cars and relocate once or twice during the afternoon. But, this has worked successfully in the past in other places, so, I'm hoping we can work it, too.

If you're interested, please drop me a note at the e-mail address in my profile and I'll include you in my planning.

Here's a link to the MGMkt Chowdown reports (actually, I linked in all the chowdown reports--at least for the chowdowns I've organized), in case you want to remember how the kitty worked, etc.

MGMkt Chowdown I announcement:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/316448
MGMkt Chowdown I report:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31859...
MGMkt Chowdown II report:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/359135
Mai Village Chowdown report:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349763
Jun Bo Chowdown report:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/328488

P.S. Please feel free to talk about chow, i.e., the taquerias along Lake Street, in this thread, but please do not discuss the chowdown itself in this thread. It causes the mods some grief. I would really love to hear people's opinions of the chow at the places Dara mentions in article I linked, or other taquerias along Lake Street. Thank you!

~TDQ

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  1. Here is the list of restaurants Dara mentioned in her Lake St. Taqueria piece I linked above. Does anyone have any comments to share about these particular restaurants? Her review is a couple of years old now, so it's possible much has changed. Any recommendations for specific dishes that are especially good there? (fabulous tacos al pastor? killer homemade salsa? wonderful horchata from scratch, lovely desserts? fantastic tamales, that sort of thing)? Also, if there are other great taquerias, tiendas, etc. along Lake Street that should be added to the list of places to explore, I'd be curious to hear about those as well.

    Taqueria La Hacienda
    211 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
    1515 E. Lake St., (In Mercado Central)

    José's Mexican Foods
    730 E. Lake St.

    La Mexicana
    1522 E. Lake St.

    Carne Asada
    809 E. Lake St.

    Pineda Tacos
    2150 E. Lake St.
    311 E. Lake St.

    Which are the the ones that are best, most unique, or best situated to be closest to other interesting chowish restaurants or groceries. Also, is parking especially good or bad at any of these?

    A side note, my first "chowdown" was at a taqueria crawl in Redwood City, of which I
    have very fond memories. It was a wonderful, meandering, chowish time. In
    fact, here is a link to that thread. I think my post in this thread is also my inaugural post on chowhound! Weird!
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/24991

    As always, thanks for sharing your ideas, everyone!

    ~TDQ

    2 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Las tortas gigantes from La Pineda can sustain me for, like, three days! To sample more than one place we'd need a nice sharp knife to cut the sandwiches into little slices! I guess tacos would be a good choice-- I could probably manage to eat a few tacos, allowing me to have one each at several places.

      An update on some of the places listed.

      Gorditas El Gordo now occupies the space at 211 E. Lake St. where Taqueria La Hacienda was back then. Now La Hacienda is across the street a block down and my vote for the numero uno place to try. Have not been to El Gordo yet, but would like to try it, so it should be on the taqueria crawl.

      José's Mexican Foods is closed and La Nayarita now ocupies that space. Supposedly specializes in seafood, but one wonders how fresh it can be when there is so little business in the place. This was born out by my one visit there, but it has been the better part of a year since then.

      La Pineda at 2150 E. Lake St. (the former Pizza Hut building) has been torn down. The 311 E. Lake St. location is still around. This one is much closer to all the others anyway.

      Carne Asada looked to be shut down when I drove by there Friday evening. Was that just because of the storm or is it gone for good? They never seemed to do much business at any time.

      Confession time: one of my most vivid memories of the day my daughter was born was walking down to Carne Asada from Abbott Northwestern for a tasty torta. Hey, my wife was only dilated to 3 cm at that point, she had a couple more hourts of labor so I could get away for my fix! The doctor let me pull the baby out (yeah, I made it back in time), and yet I find myself talking about that sandwich more than anything else that day. Hi, I'm John, and I'm a chowhound. (Everybody: "Hi John")

      MGMkt was not yet open or I certainly would have gone there. One of the effects of MGMkt opening last spring is that I have been to all the other Lake Street Mexican places far less than before. There are several strong choices all right inside MGMkt.

      1. re: Neitz

        Wow! Great summary. It sounds like you know your taquerias! In her review Dara says, "Great taquerias on Lake Street have lately made up their minds to come and go as quickly as wildflowers." Based on the changes you describe, Neitz, it seems Dara was certainly right on that point.

        I thought I read somewhere, and now I can't remember where, that La Pineda is closed on Sundays. I hope this isn't true and doesn't put a damper on our chowdown. I seem to recall someone (AnneInMpls) was trying to find the best non-Manny's tortas in the Twin CIties. I can't remember the conclusion, but, Neitz, where would you place La Pineda against Manny's?

        I certainly agree with you that MGMkt draws some business away from some of the Lake Street Taquerias--at least, I know that to be the case for me personally. It's easier to go to Manny's in MGMkt than it is to go to the location in Mercado Central (and I've never made it to their other Lake Street location, but I'm astonished that they can keep all 3 locations, all on Lake Street, busy. Delighted, of course, but also surprised.

        Really, the only place we've ventured along Lake Street is Mercado Central, for Manny's, Las Lomas tamales, the bakery, and the tortilleria (La Perla? I'm not even sure of the name) that sells a stack of 36 housemade corn tortillas for $1.00. Amazing! We've explored the grocery across the street, but didn't find anything too amazing.

        I'm hoping the Lake Street construction has finally settled down enough to not be a distraction to these little businesses.

        P.S. Your wife is clearly enough of a chowhound to forgive you for sneaking out for chow while she was getting ready to give birth! :)

        ~TDQ

    2. I'll admit that Pineda's scary exterior and environs (the old Pizza Hut, shady characters in the parking lot) did a good job of keeping me away at first. Once I tried their food, however, it was a different story. For flavor, authenticity and value, it's everything a chowhound is
      looking for. You must go to Pineda.

      You may want to use public transportation for this Chowdown. Check out the discounts being offered to riders of the infamous Bus Route 21:

      http://www.metrotransit.org/hopshop/i...

      2 Replies
      1. re: StPauliGirl

        Another endorsement of Pineda! Thank you. Are their tortas what you crave (like Neitz above) or is there anything else in particular that you thing is outstanding, too?

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I'm all about their chicken with green sauce burritos. So tasty, but very big. The gigantic ones are made with two tortillas and can feed a small village.

          Great horchada too, but most places on Lake Street have it.