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May 16, 2011 10:23 AM

Los Ocampos, Amazing.

So the lady and I went to Los Ocampos in St. Paul on Friday night because of the many rave reviews by other hounds. It was amazing. The best Mexican food I have had here in Minnesota or anywhere else other than Mexico. It was a great experience almost like going to Mexico, english is not the first language but you can get by easy enough. I myself speak a some spanish and love to use it so it was a fun experience. The food was so good, fresh salsa's, well seasoned meats and great toppings. Mi Lady had the enchiladas with the verde sauce, let me tell you this was one of the best enchilada sauces ever and it was a ton of food for sub $10. She got 4 or 5 enchiladas on a plate with a whole nother plate of mexican rice and beans. Would recommend this dish highly. I had the taco combo plate, which consists of 3 tacos you choose the meat and mexican rice and beans(alot of food) for under $9. I had 3 different meats, al pastor, carnitas, and chorizo. All were delicious and fresh. The chorizo my favorite great spicy flavor. If you go make sure you get the avacado sauce for tacos or whatever you want to put it on. It's not guacamole but more liquidy, Salsa de Avocado is what you would want to order, so good! Overall everything was so good and such a great deal. I would recommend this place to anyone. Any one have any other great mexican places they think stand up to Los Ocampos? I would love to try them out.

Los Ocampo #2 Seeger Square
895 Arcade St, Saint Paul, MN 55106

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  1. Best Mexican food in the state. However I will say their basic red salsa served with chips isn't overly impressive, but all their other salsas/sauces (including the habanero aioli) are top notch.

    6 Replies
    1. re: NugarifiK

      Los Ocampo is pretty much Taco King around these parts. The only place that I would say is even in the same neighborhood is Paneda.

      1. re: Fudist

        That's Pineda, for the search bots, and it deserves a mention here.

        1. re: kevin47

          Thanks for the correction. Pineda is wonderful. I eat there 3 times a week you would think I could at least spell the name correctly.

            1. re: KC612

              Could you elaborate on a Torta Poblana? Is is a stuffed peeper in a torta, cause that is the visual I have.

              1. re: daniellempls

                The Torta Poblana I had was at Pineda and I couldn't imagine it being very healthy, but it's a thin slice of steak (not sure what cut) breaded and fried kind of like country fried and a poblano stuffed with queso fresco or some other white mexican cheese also breaded and fried. It's topped with tomatoes, avacado, lettuce IIRC, onion and crema I believe. Not something you'd want to eat everyday or even week, but very good nonetheless.

    2. Brought my sister and niece and nephew here tonight (the Lake St location) and was impressed. I had the huarachazo de asada and taco de al pastor. Huarachazo is a huarache with avocado, which was good and the asada was pretty solid. Al pastor impressed me, as it is hard to find good al pastor (seeing their spit was a good sign). I live in LA, so I have very high standards of Mexican food, and this place would fit in in LA. Wouldn't be top tier, but for MN it was very good. Salsas were good as well.

      The one thing that I don't really get though, is the prices were about 50% more than what I would pay in an LA taqueria, but pretty much all other food (and anything else) is cheaper here in MN. Is it just because they can charge that much and people will pay it since there isn't any really good (cheap) Mexican here?

      5 Replies
      1. re: mdpilam

        I need to try something different next time I'm at Los Ocampo. I've been stuck on the huarachazo.

        1. re: mdpilam

          My wife and I observed this same phenomenon here. We noticed that Thai and Chinese foods at mid-tier or lower places here are significantly more expensive here (like about 40%) than in LA or NYC, but that our high-end places like Alma or La Belle Vie, are significantly cheaper than comparable places in NYC or LA. And given the rent disparities between the mentioned cities, it's kind of odd.

          Pad Thai in the Twin Cities will run you $9 to $11. In LA and NYC, more like $6 - $8. A well-stocked Szechuan hot pot here will run you $45 for two, in NYC that's more like $35 for the same items. Endless comparisons are available, but I'll stop there.

          I don't have an answer for the question, but I'll venture a guess that people here are comfortable with a $25 - $30 lunch tab for two from these mid-tier places and have no real comparison to make with a similar joint in another city. Owners here then charge what the market will bear. Just guessing.



          1. re: HuaGung

            It's changing. Ten years ago, it was impossible to find a Thai dish for under $10, and a chicken mole (arguably the first "authentic" item Minnesotans embraced) would have run you about $14.

            One reason is volume, and a lack of competition. The cheapest Pad Thai you'll find is in Brooklyn Park, New Hope or Frogtown, areas that are 20 minutes apart. Tacqueria's are more prevalent, but the quality is still uneven to the point that the best places are few and far between.

            One other issue is liquor licensing. It's a painful, convoluted process stacked in favor of chain restaurants. That cuts into profit margins.

            1. re: HuaGung

              We also found the same thing moving here from Chicago. It's just a couple of dollars more, but it adds up.

            2. re: mdpilam

              I think its a volume thing - its really a challenge to compare california mexican food to just about anywhere else.

              I had a hell of a time finding an Ocampo menu online (their website uses some godawful template which doesnt even list prices - id rather a pdf link) but found a picture here:

              and i have to say thats pretty much in line with our equivalent standby in sunset park brooklyn (a major mexican enclave in these parts). The tacos are steeper at 2 bucks each compared to 1.50 or 1.75 here, but the prices on plates/tortas etc seem comparable.

              I think that it really is about how many of a given type of restaurant there are and how much demand for that type of food is driven by people with from whatever country the cusine represents - a counterpoint to HuaGung's hot pot and thai points below is the unbelievable cheap chinese street food/bakeries in every chinese population center in nyc where nearly boundless demand and huge seller turnover creates very competitive markets.

            3. In our family's opinion, the Los Ocampo that you ate at (on Arcade) has the best rice, at least of the two in St Paul. I don't know why, exactly, but it's got great taste and texture, it's pretty darn near perfect. Maybe it's just that the pan they are using is more seasoned than at the new location. Who knows? I'm just extremely thankful that there are TWO great Los Ocampo locations near our house!

              ETA: oops I did this under my husband's name/acct!!!! (blush! this is turtlebella!) Fortunately, I know he agrees with me.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mtullius

                I ate there with DH last night. What am I missing? I was not impressed at all. I think Los Arcos in West St. Paul leaves this place in the dust. DH had the enchiladas and I had a forgettable dish --two tacos, flat on plate, one covered with fried peppers and onions and the other with chipotle chicken and rice. The tacos were outright nasty. All I could taste was flour and grease.

                1. re: soccermom13

                  I went again last night, and while good, I don't think it was as good as the first time I went. I ordered the alambre de al pastor and a Sidral. The al pastor was ok, but not as good as the previous visit, and they used ham instead of bacon on the alambre? Lastly, probably the most frustrating/confusing thing was the roasted jalapeno was cold?! Do they roast and then freeze them early in the day? That's sad. It was still good though, and for MN very good.

                  They need to stop being so stingy with their salsa though and just put out a salsa bar.