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Jun 20, 2007 09:33 AM

Picosa Report (MSP)

Picosa is the Latin fusion resto that opened on St. Anthony Main where Sophia used to be.

It started rough, with a complimentary basket of frybread served with green tomatillo salsa. Ick. Frybread was a travesty foisted on Native Americans, and I hate to see it foisted on resto customers. But that's just my opinion. And the salsa, while good, didn't really work with the frybread.

The offer small plates, salad, soup, and main dish menus.

We had the grilled shrimps from the small plates menu. Grilled to perfection with a nice marinade, served with a pico de gallo type surround of shopped salsa. I know that sounds weird, but it makes sense. From the same menu, we also had the masa with crab. It really came as more of a pair of crab empanadas. The filling was somewhat more bland and sour-creamy than I would expect. I was hoping for a spicier filling. Overall good, though.

We had the grilled octopus salad from the salad list. The salad itself was a not overwhelming bed of greens and corn. The octopi were, unfortunately, overcooked and rubbery. Vulcanized. But the flavor was good. Had they been cooked the right amount of time, it would have been really good.

The beer selection sucks. All bottled. No locals. Only three "Mexican" beers - Corona (hardly qualifies as Mexican), Tecate (hardly qualifies as beer), and Modelo Especial. If they want their Latin fusion, they could extend that to include a number of Central- and South-American beers. They're available in the Twin Cities.

They've been open only a few weeks, and unfortuately, that shows a bit. They are still finding their voice as it were. But, the place has great potential be something like Babalu - Latin flavors in a resto/night club. One troubling bit, though. The staff t-shirts had a stylized cartoon of a martini glass with the phrase "Dirty? You hope she is." Not sure what that says about their chow priorities. I would hate to see this turn into another Trocadero.

I will go back, because I expect it to be quite good, once they get their groove on.

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  1. Thanks for this report! It's always good to hear about the new places. It will be interesting to see if they get the kinks worked out once they've been open a little longer.


    1. Thanks for the report.

      May I ask a silly question? What have they done to the decor? I loved Sophia with it's laid back yet elegant vibe. It's such a kick-ass location and layout (or the layout used to be great).

      1 Reply
      1. re: MplsM ary

        Funny you should mention that. I was telling my chowspouse that I missed the old decor and how cool it was. They totally wiped out the center stage area where the bands used to play. Now there's a stage for a DJ setup in the back corner, and the main area is set up as a dance floor. We sat outside, so I didn't get much chance to scope out the whole place.

      2. Wow, the sound of the t-shirts doesn't do much for my appetite.

        1. I just ate at Picosa last night. Thought it was good. No one was there though! We got there at 4 (the start of their happy hour--1/2 price on all call drinks, beers and wine) and we were the only patrons. (when we left at 6 there were only two other small tables of people) We got Margaritas which were on special for $5; one was passion fruit the other was raspberry. They were fantastic! My friend and I shared 2 appetizers and a salad; Crisp Masa filled with crab, Nicaraguan Empanadas--the tomatillo salsa with it was smoky and divine, and the Jicama, Chayote and Mango salad. All were very good. We split the Ancho Fudge Pie w/ Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert. Again, very good. Nice amount of spice in the chocolate. It had big pieces of walnut in it, which were very good, but I was surprised by them as they were not part of the dessert's description. Everyone working there was very friendly. The service was pretty good, although our water glasses could have been checked/filled a little more often--especially considering we were the only patrons there!

          They seem to have an identity conflict though. As others have said they seem to be still working on transitioning the decor from what used to be there. The decor was definetely not Latin Nuevo! I didn't find it appealing. We sat at a window and had great views of people going by and the river so it didn't really matter. The shirts for sale; "dirty? you hope she is" and "rich? you hope he is" remind me of something at Chipotle (which is great for there) but the food at Picosa seems to be at a higher level. I don't know if they can pull off both personalities. They need to find a middle ground (or just lose the cheesy shirts). Picosa has a lot of potential though.

          One last comment: They need better signage on the bathroom doors! The lighting by the bathrooms is dim and there is only a small metal plaque on each door with small, plain letters etched in stating "men" or "women". If it was later in the evening and I'd had a few more drinks in me I would not know which restroom I was going into because the doors are so hard to read!