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Los Ocampo in the East Metro

Last night, on my way to pick up dinner at the Tea House II in St Paul, I noticed that the former Baker's Square restaurant had a new sign on it... Los Ocampo! (This is near the Target off of White Bear Ave, just south of I-94. If you've been to the Tea House out there, you've driven right past the building). It did not look open yet, but there was a Los Ocampo truck parked outside.

It's a fairly large space, especially compared to the other Los Ocampo outposts, which are more taqueria in size and style than full-on restaurants. I would be very interested to know if they are going to be doing a full-service restaurant or sticking with (their very successful) model of the other locations. Anyone know any other details????

I just hope they are not closing the other East Metro location on Arcade Street, which is very close to my house. The White Bear Ave location wouldn't be too far away either but but but but. I will try to ask the next time we go in there, probably some time in the next week-- have to get my craving fix of the best Mexican rice (other than my mom's) and the best tacos al pastor in the Cities!

Anyway, I think it's great they are doing so well in this economy to open another place. And this brings another great food option to the East Metro, especially out there where most of the dining options appear to be chain/fast food outlets, other than the excellent Tea House. I hope they get lots of business from the folks at 3M...

Anyway, pass the word on to your East Side/East Metro chowfriends and chowrelatives to keep an eye out for opening. And I'll come back and report anything I find out.

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  1. Someone said a couple of weeks ago that they saw a beer truck parked outside and they looked in the window and saw a bar (probably full serivce then) and a remodeled interior, but no signage yet - good thing cuz the interior of Bakers Square had for sure seen better days. I have no other deets besides that. If this is all true - YEAH. You are right Turtle, most of the options near there are not really an option. There is a thai place across the freeway popular with the 3M lunch crowd and evening take out that is not too bad, but their interior could use some updating also.

    1. Well, it's open now, and we went last week. Amazing! They did an incredible job renovating the space, with lots of beautiful tile work, exposed brick, etc....

      The menu was very similar to other Los Ocampo locations, but with some added entree items. Full table service, and a full bar-- including a decent draft beer selection.

      Service was excellent, the food was just as good as the more taqueria-like Los Ocampo we have frequented in the past. Definitely worth checking out.

      3 Replies
        1. re: mtullius

          Yes, this will likely be our go-to Los Ocampo now, partly cos you can get draft beer and partly cos the food all comes out at once (at the taquerias my tacos always come out first, followed later by chowtoddler's quesadilla and the sope of mtullius... yes, we almost always order the same things! serious creatures of habit, plus the tacos al pastor as soooo yummy I can't quite get away from them). Very pleasant atmosphere, you don't feel like you are in a former Baker's Square. Nice waiting area too with a couple of toys for kids to play with.

          1. re: turtlebella

            This is great news! I work at 3M and will wrangle my colleagues to get over there.

        2. Do they actually have a bar that you can sit at and order cocktails? Do they have a happy hour?

          3 Replies
          1. re: ssioff

            Yes, there is an actual bar one can sit at and order cocktails. As for HH, I can't remember for sure. But I would think so....

            1. re: mtullius

              Unfortunate that they haven't updated their website with the new location and info.

              1. re: mtullius

                Thanks much for the info mtullius.

            2. On the spur of the moment we went to Los Ocampo for lunch today. I was happy to see that they were really busy!

              It was great. Just great. I had the huarachazo with pastor and my husband had 3 tacos - pastor, chorizo and tongue - with rice and beans. Everything was fresh, tasty and perfectly done. We'll definitely be coming back for dinner soon so we can have some margaritas. Very cool that they have a full bar. It's also cheap as always. Our meal, with 2 sodas, only cost $21.00. Not much more than lunch at Chipotle, and tons better.

              The only down side, and this wasn't a big deal at all, was that our waitress wasn't Mexican and didn't seem familiar with Mexican food at all. When I ordered the huarachazo she didn't seem to have any idea what I was talking about and I had to point it out to her on the menu. When my husband ordered the tongue taco she made a face and asked him if he really wanted tongue. Um, yeah. Tongue is good!

              5 Replies
              1. re: Dasha

                Looked up the website and saw something that made me very excited: a picture of Pastor meat on a spit that looked TO DIE FOR. I recently fell in love with Pastor on a trip to Mexico where I ate at a Pastor place called El Fogon. Just yesterday I was lucky enough to be taken to a place on Eat Street called Marissa's bakery (also deli) that serves authentic Mexican staples and I'm still hungry so I'm excited to have these dishes available on the East Side!

                1. re: tstein24

                  The pastor is very, very good. As good as the pastor at El Fogon? (OMG, I LOVE EL FOGON IN PLAYA WITH MY HEART AND SOUL.) Not in my opinion, but it's still delicious and totally worth the trip. Being that we went back to the new Los Ocampo AGAIN tonight, it's clearly pretty darn tasty.

                  1. re: tstein24

                    In my opinion, Los Ocampo has the best al pastor in the Twin Cities. Then again, I stopped trying after I found Los Ocampo cos it's just too darn good.

                    Really weird about the non-Mexican waitress who made a face about the lengua. Hopefully she gets up to speed quick!

                  2. re: Dasha

                    "When my husband ordered the tongue taco she made a face and asked him if he really wanted tongue. Um, yeah. Tongue is good!"

                    Los Ocampo believes in local authenticity. The waitress is authentically Woodburian.

                  3. Had lunch there on Friday. They were slammed. If they stay that busy at lunch they might want to think about hiring a day bartender. One of the waitresses worked the bar and the dining room. As a result, service was a bit slow. Food and drinks were great and I'll be back.

                    1. I've eaten there 3x in the last three days (Dinner w/ brother Wed, Takeout lunch Thur, Sit down Lunch Fri). I'm obsessed with $2 tacos and the 20 or so fillings and I intend on trying all of them (including tongue and the vegetarian options). The al Pastor, spicy shredded chicken, spicy ground beef, and chorizo tacos are all the best of each meat I've had in the cities. Make sure to drizzle some of their habanero aioli on whatever you order. It is soooo good.

                      1. We've now been there 3 times in one week. I woke up with a cold and an insatiable desire for red pork pozole. It was just what I needed, although it's so big you could launch the Sixth Fleet in the bowl (and it took two people to deliver all the food involved in my order). The tostadas on the side were really tasty, too. And now I have lunch covered for tomorrow!

                        The new Los Ocampo almost, but not quite, makes up for not being able to go to Playa del Carmen this winter.

                         
                         
                        1. Does anyone have the exact address / intersection? I'll be on that side of town today and was thinking this might be a good stop (since most of the places I wanted to go are closed Mondays).

                          Thanks.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: semanticantics

                            1751 Suburban.

                            Take 94 to White Bear Ave, head south at the exit.
                            At the first intersection (Suburban Ave), take a right. MGM Liquor is the first driveway on your right. Los Ocampo will be the next driveway.

                            You can see it from 94.

                            1. re: semanticantics

                              It's at White Bear Ave. and Suburban. In the same general plaza as Target, right next to the MGM liquor store. Address is 1751 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, MN.

                            2. I really like this place. I've been three times now.

                              I've had the huaraches combo with pastor... really wonderful. The boiled beans on/in it are really good. And I've ordered tacos twice now at lunch, with beef, tongue (sans comment from waiter), pastor, carnitas, the smoked chicken and the last one is failing me, but was the only thing I didn't think was spiffy.

                              As reported by a few others, the habanero aioli is wonderful and packs just enough of a kick to make me smile foolishly while I chew.

                              I've found the service cheerful an helpful, the food delicious, and the one margarita a bit subpar (in my world that means too sour and too little tequila).

                              My picky kids loved the place so we'll be back often. Beats the daylights out of the silly Las Margaritas in Woodbury. Don't ask. Just, go to Los Ocampo. It's a great addition to the east side.

                              cheers,

                              Huagung

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: HuaGung

                                I chatted with one of the waiters a bit last week and he said they have plans to have a happy hour soon. He acknowledged that Americans really like happy hours, in his other job as a real estate agent he notices that all his co-workers go out for happy hour frequently!

                                Which I thought was kind of funny...is happy hour a particularly American thing? I don't really know as I've never been a happy hour kind of girl and so never noticed if they do or do not have happy hour in Mexico or other countries that I've traveled to. Anyway, a bit off topic. But I wanted to let those of you know who are interested that they will have happy hour, some day! :)

                              2. I finally got over to this place yesterday - had the pork pozole - incredible, and yes, the portion is outrageously huge! My dining companion had the tamales - also very good. She stopped by my office today and we both agreed we had to go back again today. So we did, and dragged another colleague along. Tacos al pastor today - outstanding. The habanero aioli really is good too. For 3 of us, a great lunch was $24. Then our waitress asked if we work at 3M - gave us 10% off (I guess that is the standard deal for 3M employees). Then, she brought over complimentary tasting samples of margaritas (don't tell my boss). Very good, too! Really - we all feel like this restaurant opening here is a gift from the gods dropped in our lap!

                                1. AWESOME MARGARITAS.....KIND AND WONDERFUL SERVICE!!! Only stopped for happy hour so far. Can't wait to get their for dinner...which will be this weekend. LOVE the bar area, looking forward to many happy hours at Los Ocampo! Make sure to get a big advertising sign outside though....I don't think many people know this fabulous place exists!!!!

                                  -----
                                  Taqueria Los Ocampo
                                  St. Paul, MN, St Paul, MN

                                  1. We had a not-so-great experience at Los Ocampo last Friday night. We went there after work. It was fairly busy, as Friday nights often are, but it wasn't crazy. We were seated in the booth area and then we waited. And waited some more. Eventually a busboy brought us chips and salsa, but no one came by to take a drink order. We kept waiting. We tried to catch the eye of waitstaff but it was like we were invisible. We noticed that the women sitting across from us weren't waited on, either.

                                    Finally, after 25 minutes of doing everything besides waving semaphore flags and setting fires to get someone's attention, we got up to leave. No one noticed that we walked out without ever having been served anything.

                                    Very disappointing because I'm a big, big fan of this restaurant. I'll go back because I love the food too much to stay away for good, but they're on probation with me. I was a waitress and bartender for years and it's a HUGE no-no to not even acknowledge a table, no matter how busy you are.