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Apr 26, 2008 03:33 PM

Suggestions on authentic mexican in MSP

I am looking for suggestions on really authentic mexican restaurants in the Twin Cities. For years I have sworn by the food at Pancho Villa on Eat Street, however more recently I have noticed quite a few "not so authentic items", like the Caldo de Pollo (chicken soup), which is served with more of an Asian flare. I do love the tacos, the pozole, and the ceviche, but am interested in hearing other ideas as there are just too many Mexican restaurants to choose from in this area. (Excluding all the eateries in El Mercado Central, as I do frequent there quite often). Suggestions?

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  1. We're big fans of Mixteca (see review below)

    La Mixteca
    7822 Portland Ave S
    Bloomington, MN 55420

    Category: Mexican

    Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
    Food: 9
    Service: N/A (Self service)
    Ambience: 4

    Recommendation: Excellent! This authentic Mexican cafeteria-style restaurant offers great food, including “Chipotle-style” burritos done right, at very reasonable prices.

    La Mixteca is in the location where the old Taco Morelos used to be. It is owned by 2 brothers, Jorge Gomez and Miguel Hernandez, from Oaxaca, Mexico. Nick had a chance to speak with Jorge the last time he was there and was impressed at their genuine caring for the restaurant and the food they serve their patrons. They are in the process of bringing a little more ambience to this restaurant (note that this is in a strip mall). The existing look is quite bare with some murals on the wall and a cafeteria style order line and seating area.

    The menu is authentic and offers Burritos, Tacos, Gorditas, Salads, and more with a choice of many meats including Asada (steak), Barbacoa (pulled steak), Chorizo (sausage), Carnitas (pulled pork), Spicy Chicken, etc. For those that are familiar with Chipotle, the concept is the same, but this place does it right (it actually has flavor). You can add rice and choice of beans to your dish as well as add-ons such as cheese, lettuce, guacamole, cilantro, etc and choose from of 6-8 salsas ranging from the non-spicy Pico to the hot Chile de Arbol. The meats are excellent – the Carnitas are juicy while the Spicy Chicken (flavored with Habanero and Arbol chilies) has a nice kick. Nick usually keeps his burrito simple with rice, beans, cilantro and pico, and tops it off with Habanero and Arbol salsas (as you can guess – he likes spicy food). This restaurant also has authentic Mexican drinks including ones made with Tamarind and Hibiscus. And if you haven’t tried Mexican Coca Cola, here’s your chance – they make it with real sugar, not corn syrup. Jorge and Miguel just launched a Mexican baked goods section as well, but we haven’t had a chance to sample the wares. This place is highly recommended and Nick has been here many times for lunch; you’ll leave satisfied with an appreciation for true Mexican flavors.


    Update (November 19, 2007) – Another fabulous experience at La Mixteca. This time we tried a Taco Platter – 3 tacos with one each of Asada (steak), Carnitas (Pork), and Lengua (Beef Tongue). The tacos were topped simply with cilantro, onion, hot salsa, lime, and a bit of cheese. We especially liked the Lengua because it was very tender and just melts in your mouth (if you’ve never tried tongue before, don’t fear and just go for it – you’d be surprised because the texture is not stringy as many would expect tongue to be). The owners are also launching an expanded menu which includes a Platter of Chorizo, Chicken, Asada, Carnitas, Shrimp, and Queso Frito (Cheese) served with beans, some fabulous guacamole, and rice – what a treat.

    1. And we'd also recommend El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul

      El Burrito Mercado
      175 Concord St (Cesar Chavez)
      St. Paul, MN

      Category: Mexican

      Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
      Food: 8
      Service: N/A (Self service
      )Ambience: 6

      Recommendation: Very Good. Excellent authentic Mexican food served cafeteria style in a full service Mexican supermarket.

      This is a full service Mexican grocery store where you can find everything from staples such as Mexican spices and home-made tortillas to hard to find items such as jicama and imported Mexican candies. The market includes a housewares section, produce department, bakery, shelf-stable items, as well as a cafeteria/cantina. Located in St Paul’s Latino community of District Del Sol, the ethnically charged atmosphere at El Burrito Mercado is as close to a Mexican experience as you’ll find this far north. From the moment you enter its doors your senses are immersed in authentic Mexican flavors, sounds, smells, and sights. We love visiting this store for their Spicy Salsas as well as cheap avocados! They also have a good selection of fresh juices and dried chilies. The restaurant (along with others in the West Side area) sets up outdoor stands that sell food during the Annual Cinco De Mayo festival held in May.

      The cafeteria serves tamales, great carnitas, and dishes such as pork in green chilies and chicken mole. We absolutely love their Carnitas and Beef burritos. We also like their authentic Tacos, which are served on corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, and lime. In the summer time, they occasionally have a stand that serves fresh roasted corn in the back.

      8 Replies
      1. re: MSP Foodies

        i am from chicago and i am trying to find the steak tacos with the corn tortilla and the steak burritos that is filled with so much filling that it falls apart with one bite that is what i miss ever since i moved to st paul minnesota

          1. re: soupkitten

            I second soupkitten's recommendation. Los Ocampos, especially the one at Chicago and Lake is really good stuff.

        1. re: MSP Foodies

          We generally make it a rule to go to El Burrito Mercado when we're in town, but we weren't able to go last year. I read somewhere that they've got a sit-down restaurant in the back now. Is this true? Or is it still just counter service?

          1. re: prasantrin

            It's the same as it was: cafeteria-style counter service, with places to sit once you've received your food.

            1. re: KTFoley

              Not so. Last time we were there we sat in the new back room with wait service and beer. Service was pretty slow, so I would probably opt for the cafeteria counter next time.

              1. re: nancyd

                Really? Wow, I must have walked right past without even noticing. Thanks for the correction!

                1. re: nancyd

                  Yeah, service in the back is really, really slow. It's the same menu, and it's a bit more expensive to cover the cost of the service (and you still have to tip). It's there for people who want table service, and there are times when that's nice. Just don't go in a hurry. They also have a little dance floor back there, too.

                  The food stands at Mercado Central are all good and highly authentic - La Hacienta, La Loma, Manny's, and the 4th place whose name I can't recall.

          2. El Loro in Burnsville and El Azteca in Apple Valley have really good Mexican food. I am used to real mexican food from Chicago, but both of those places are pretty good.

            1. Chaska y Love or Chaska my Love in Chaska, MN may be as authentic as you can get in the Twin Cities. It is located in a small strip center across from the library and just off the main drag through town. It is unpretentious, not fancy and you order your meal at a counter and take a number to have it brought to you table. The menu board is on the wall in English and Spanish. While we were there most people came in for take out. Three quarters of the patrons appeared to be Hispanic and many placed their orders in Spanish. The beef fajitas were brought out steaming. Photos are attached. Judge for yourself.

              127 W 4th St
              Chaska, MN 55318
              (952) 368-0350

              1 Reply
              1. re: Davydd

                Chaska My Love makes a really good Menudo.