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MSP Authentic Mexican and Margaritas?

cherrylime May 22, 2008 06:22 AM

Has anyone found a good authentic mexican place that also has good margaritas? We'd
prefer the Mpls/St.Paul area though I know there are some good places in the far flung
suburbs. I know Boca Chica, La Cucaracha and El PAtio in St. Paul but none are my favorites food wise. Any new places? What's you favorite thing to order?

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  1. The Dairy Queen RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 06:35 AM

    Fantastic question--I can't wait to hear some answers. My one experience at Boca Chica was miserable, alas. La Cucaracha and and El Patio, as you say, are pretty ho hum, though, to be fair I've not been to La Cucaracha in awhile, and not since they started sourcing organic ingredients. I really wish El Patio were better because it's such a treat to dine outdoors this time of year and their patio is really lovely. Someone recently (diesel I think? said their nachos are pretty good.) Another place in a similar category of food, though, slightly better than all those places in my mind, that has margaritas is Pepito's on Chicago in Minneapolis. I really really love their salsa--smooth and smokey. And their chile rellenos are pretty good. Not a universally good menu--just great salsa and the occasional gem. It can get pretty crowded, too, but if I want a margarita and to get my salsa fix, it's where I go.

    I have dined at A La Salsa in MGMkt a couple of times now and they have margaritas. I would call the food a step above all of the places mentioned above. But, my dream would be Taqueria Los Ocampo with table service and margaritas. Do they offer than in any of their locations, I wonder (I wish!)?


    7 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      tex.s.toast RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 07:08 AM

      TDQ, your comments are the hight of hopefulness. I LOVE Los Ocampo, but lets get serious. Margaritas? lets wait for them to work up to non-plastic "silver"ware. I would love to find a place where i have to bring my own fork and knife that also has a bar, if only because it would be a hilarious combo.

      1. re: tex.s.toast
        The Dairy Queen RE: tex.s.toast May 22, 2008 07:10 AM

        Well, a gal can dream. :) La Sirena Gorda in MGMkt doesn't offer margaritas does it?


      2. re: The Dairy Queen
        diesel RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 09:36 AM

        Clarification: It was La Cucaracha whose nachos I said were pretty good.

        I haven't tried the nachos at El Patio. And I probably never will because all three times I've been there the service has been astoundingly bad. Even if I got the urge to go back, and order the nachos, I would probably be served something else, with no apology or bill adjustment to ameliorate the situation. (Can you tell I'm bitter? Hee hee.)

        I don't know what you consider a "good margarita," but to me it's made with fresh lime juice (no commercial mixes allowed!), a nice tequila, and something sweet (Cointreau when I make them at home), served on the rocks with salt. I know of a few places that serve a margarita along those lines, but none of them are Mexican restaurants. I hope someone knows of a place that fits the bill! What a heavenly combo that would be!

        1. re: diesel
          The Dairy Queen RE: diesel May 22, 2008 09:39 AM

          Ha! Yes. It was La Cucaracha you mentioned that has the great nachos--I don't know how I got that twisted up because in my mind, I remember it quite clearly. I'm so glad you spoke up as I wouldn't want someone running to the wrong place.

          I pretty much agree with your assessment of El Patio, except that I'd be willing to brave their lousy service as long as I could sit on their lovely patio with beverage in hand if the food were good, but the lousy service combined with the lousy food is just too much.

          And, P.S. I don't know if any of the places mentioned thus far have "good" margaritas--I think I was just trying to think of places that have margaritas at all. Good ones would be a whole other level. I'm embarrassed to admit I like the margaritas at Green Mill. I don't know if they meet your standards, diesel, or not. But, they don't serve Mexican food at all, so they definitely don't meet cherrylime's request.


        2. re: The Dairy Queen
          Foureyes137 RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 12:11 PM

          I must agree, if Los Ocampo had maragaritas and a patio...dear lord I'd never leave. I'm imagining a giant patio with white sand and a guy who brings my either a haurache or a margarita every 10 minutes.

          1. re: The Dairy Queen
            Maggie19 RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 12:35 PM

            Masa downtown Mpls .. The best and most interesting real Mexican in town. Margaritas are made with top shelf spirts .. large selection of margaritas. The menu has outstanding Mexican seafood options.

            1. re: Maggie19
              Eat_Nopal RE: Maggie19 May 22, 2008 02:10 PM

              Nice menu... reads just like a typical mid-level city restaurant in Mexico.


          2. drew13000 RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 07:50 AM

            I love El Paraiso on 35th and Nicollet for seafood dishes and ceviche. They also have a little outdoor patio which makes it nice for summer dining, although it's on a pretty busy intersection. I've never had the margaritas, though they do have a liquor license.
            I've been happy with the margaritas and food at Pancho Villa, also on Nicollet. However, I'm not much of a margarita afficionado.

            7 Replies
            1. re: drew13000
              The Dairy Queen RE: drew13000 May 22, 2008 07:58 AM

              Thanks for the reminder on El Paraiso. Someone said once they had a nice Sunday brunch, but the couple of times I tried to go on Sunday mornings, they were closed and I kind of gave up (half-hearted hound, I am, I know). Do you know any thing about their Sunday brunches? If they're still good and what time they start?


              1. re: drew13000
                churchka RE: drew13000 May 22, 2008 12:57 PM

                I love El Pariso and they have great Margaritas. One thing to note is that most of their non-seafood items are ho-hum, but the seafood stuff is great. I highly recommend both the ceviche and the seafood cocktails.

                Of course, I may be biased, I can see the restaurant from my dining room, so when I don't want to cook, I look out the window and say, let's walk down to El Parisio.

                1. re: churchka
                  The Dairy Queen RE: churchka May 22, 2008 01:55 PM

                  Churchka, can you describe El Pariso's Sunday brunch? How is it? When is it available, etc?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    churchka RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 06:46 PM

                    Oh, I know nothing about the Sunday Brunch. I haven't eaten there on a Sunday, we usually go to Pagoda.

                    1. re: churchka
                      The Dairy Queen RE: churchka May 23, 2008 12:52 AM

                      Pagoda does a Sunday brunch? I'd love to hear about that, if you feel like posting about it. Sounds intriguing!


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        churchka RE: The Dairy Queen May 23, 2008 07:36 AM

                        No, we just eat lunch there after church. It is a couple blocks from church and opens at 11:00. Sorry for all the confusion.

                        1. re: churchka
                          The Dairy Queen RE: churchka May 23, 2008 07:54 AM

                          Sounds lovely! Thanks for the info!


              2. Eat_Nopal RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 08:16 AM

                One of my cousins did a stint in a Minneapolis factory... told me about a place that served Bluegill Tacos during Fish Fry Fridays.... anybody have an idea what place this might be... apparently it was as good as Mexican can get given MSP's ingredient limitations.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                  cherrylime RE: Eat_Nopal May 22, 2008 09:11 AM

                  I've always kind of had a soft spot for Pepito's too..true not the most authentic
                  but I do like their food and love their salsa. Los Ocampos with margaritas! Yes that'd be perfect. For now I'll have to settle for take out and going to the mexican market nearby (on Payne ave.. Bymore I think? They also have a small amount of deli stuff, carnitas etc) and getting the 15 limes for a dollar and making the margs at home to have with our Los Ocampos..Squeezing all those limes gets tedious but it's kind of a nice ritual too..

                  857 Payne Ave, St Paul, MN

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                    The Dairy Queen RE: Eat_Nopal May 22, 2008 09:29 AM

                    Hmmm...sounds delicious, but I haven't heard of such a place. I'm hopeful that someone might know. The Red Stag Supper Club apparently offers bluegill for its FFF. http://www.redstagsupperclub.com/pdf/... Does anyone know if they are in taco form? Red Stag's pretty new, though, so depending on when your cousin was here, it's doubtful this was the place s/he referred to.


                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                      The Dairy Queen RE: Eat_Nopal May 22, 2008 09:45 AM

                      Hmmm...I've done some more googling and searching through my personal archives and can't find any mention of bluegill tacos... Eat Nopal, perhaps you can ask your cousin the name of the place next time you have a chance? We'd love to hear his/her other Twin Cities tips, even second hand!


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        Eat_Nopal RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 10:02 AM

                        My couisin is now living in Cancun, doing the 3 jobs to live in paradise thing... I will send him an e-mail but he is hard to get in touch with.

                        I googled Mojarra Minneapolis and found some good reviews of Vallartas... sounds promising.

                    2. m
                      Maggie19 RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 12:46 PM

                      Salsa a La Salsa on Nicollet has a nice selection of menu choices .. fresh ingredients. Margs are good, nothing like Masa however. El Burrito Mercado in St Paul is excellent and authentic, just beers and wines, no margs.

                      1. c
                        carlos2go RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 12:49 PM

                        I haven't tried the margaritas there, but Indio has excellent authentic Mexican. It's more upscale than most of the places you list, probably similar in quality and price to Masa, listed in a prior reply.

                        The place is only a couple of months old and impressed me a lot on my Mother's Day visit.

                        1. p
                          pgokey RE: cherrylime May 22, 2008 01:54 PM

                          The food at Pancho Villa is mostly authentic (some dishes aren't, and some are really, really authentic) but the margaritas are terrific.

                          But I certainly do endorse the Masa recommendation. I have not tried the margaritas at Los Ocampo but boy do I love the food.

                          El Burrito Mercado is another place to consider. Authentic food? Check. Margaritas? Check. How good are the margaritas? Never tried, but I'm really hoping someone will report.

                          Pancho Villa Restaurant
                          2539 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: pgokey
                            andre5 RE: pgokey May 22, 2008 03:16 PM

                            I have always liked Salsa a la Salsa for the authentic food (especially the caldo de pollo with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top). They also have a nice atmosphere and pretty good margaritas. My favorite Mexican, although it's a bit of dive is Pancho Villa on Nicollet...the food is very authentic and they now have a full bar. I haven't tried the margaritas there, however the mojitos were excellent.

                            1. re: andre5
                              pgokey RE: andre5 May 26, 2008 02:46 PM

                              They have 2-for-1 margarita specials during happy hour. I think they are only $4 to start with, and yummy - not that sweet crap you get at other places.

                            2. re: pgokey
                              Loren3 RE: pgokey May 27, 2008 01:15 PM

                              I'll third Pancho Villa. I'm not a margarita fan, but I can't imagine a place that makes great micheladas and makes their own horchata would use a mix!

                              I noticed, the last time I was there (about a week ago) that the demographic seems to have drastically changed. I used to be the only gringo there for the first couple of years I lived here. Last week, it was almost all gringo. I hope that doesn't have a negative effect on their food - tending to yankify if.

                            3. s
                              seahag RE: cherrylime May 28, 2008 04:42 PM

                              Indio has the best margaritas in town, and very tasty fresh food as well.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: seahag
                                The Dairy Queen RE: seahag May 29, 2008 04:01 AM

                                Seahag--would you mind telling us a bit more about Indio? This place wasn't on my radar at all until Rachel Hutton reviewed it in City Pages last week, http://articles.citypages.com/2008-05... and now, your mention here on chowhound. Do they have a patio? What dishes do you especially like? Anything to avoid? Welcome to chowhound, by the way! Looking forward to more of your tips.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                  seahag RE: The Dairy Queen May 29, 2008 05:59 AM

                                  I do think Indio has a patio. The last time I went, my friend and I ordered every appetizer on the menu excluing the chips & salsa and the ceviche. The only one we both really didn't like was the tlayuda. There was adobo on it which must be an acquired taste-to me it was very unpleasant and sour/bitter. We both loved the taquitoes with the pork, the queso fundido, the huasteco, and the tamal. I have yet to eat any of the entrees yet but plan to soon. I love to go there just for a drink (or 2) and a snack.

                                  1. re: seahag
                                    The Dairy Queen RE: seahag May 29, 2008 06:56 AM

                                    HA! We have a tradition at our occasional "chowdowns" to order one of every appetizer and/or one of every dessert on the menu (as well as several entrees). It really does give you a good perspective pretty quickly. Indio sounds like a great place. I can't wait to try it!


                              2. b
                                Brad Ballinger RE: cherrylime May 29, 2008 10:39 AM

                                Tacos Morelos at 26th and Nicollet. Comprhensive menu of authentic choices. Better than average margaritas.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Brad Ballinger
                                  bob s RE: Brad Ballinger May 29, 2008 02:49 PM

                                  Hey Brad. Nice to see you posting again.

                                  Have you been to Tacos Morelos (or whatever it is they're calling it these days) recently? My last few times there - about a year ago now - were only so so. I did not think the food seemed more than mediocre. Because of this I haven't been there recently.

                                  Perhaps it's gotten better. Any idea?

                                  1. re: bob s
                                    Brad Ballinger RE: bob s May 29, 2008 07:16 PM

                                    Last time was about a year ago. No complaints from that visit.

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