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Authentic, fresh or innovative Mexican food?

We are looking for a a restaurant that serves authentic Mexican food (like some place that has menjudo or goat on the menu and lot of their food from scratch), or fresh Mexican food like Masa, A la Salsa or Salsa a la Salsa, or innovative Mexican/Latin cuisine (along the lines of Barrio) In other words, we are not interested in going somewhere that just sticks to the same-old-same-old tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.
A good friend is coming down from Fairbanks, Alaska and is craving some really good Mexican food.
We have eaten at none of the placed specifically listed above except Barrio on Nicollet (which we have taken our friend to several times). So opinions about the places mentioned or authentic restaurants (perhaps as yet undiscovered??) are of particular interest.
Muchas gracias,

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  1. El Nuevo Rodeo has an amazing menu and good food in my experience.

    1. I like Masa quite a lot.

      1. I like Masa a lot, as well - it's pricey, but the food is absolutely delicious. I highly recommend the Queso Fundido con Hongos for an appetizer, the enchiladas, of any kind, and the Tres Leches cake. We've always had a lovely experience. You might want to make a reservation for a weekend night, also.

        1. My Mexican cousin recommended Rosa Mexicano for an upscale special occasion.

          8 Replies
          1. re: shoo bee doo

            This came to mind for me as well for anyone that likes Masa, although I wasn't impressed with it. Price was very high for what it is.

            1. re: shoo bee doo

              Had lunch there several weeks ago. Supremely mediocre. I laughed at the cost of the guacamole. $13 for two avocados. Tortillas were terrible. This place will join the roster of other national chains that failed (and deserved to fail) on Hennepin Ave.

              1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                Masa isn't a chain. It's owned by the D'Amicos.

                1. re: sandylc

                  I think s/he's referring to Rosa Mexicano as the chain.

                  1. re: drew13000

                    Oops, I should open the comments up before leaping! Thanks drew, and sorry Sarah!

                  2. re: sandylc

                    It looks as though SarahInMinneapolis is replying to shoo bee doo's recommendation of Rosa Mexicano.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Absolutely. Rosa is the place I was talking about. Love Masa!

              2. Short of a trip to Chicago, Sonora Grill is my favorite grab-a-quick-bite place these days. For me, the food is a bit better than Barrio and has the same fusion-authentic vibe. Alas, I don't think they have goat on the menu, but everything at SG is definitely from scratch, and it's not the same-old-same-old tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. That said, their carmelos (flour-tortilla tacos) are very nice. And the spicy refried beans with cheese are swoony.

                I know I've had barbacoa de chivo (goat) recently, but I can't remember where. It was great, so I'll try to rack my brain to come up with the name.

                1. As far as mexican food goes, NOTHING beats the Juanito's Carnitas at Teresa's. Be sure you order sliced avocado, chopped tomato, and cilantro to put on the make-it-yourself tacos. You will have died and gone to Mexican food heaven.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Freeze666

                    Teresa's (Lakeville location) is easily in the running for the worst food I have ever eaten.

                    1. re: sandylc


                      Would you be specific on what you had and why you didn't like it?

                      1. re: SmartCookie

                        To begin, the chips were greasy and stale. The salsa was apparently made from canned tomatoes and cheap onions blended together - no other ingredients. I don't remember what we ordered specifically (3 months ago), but both of our entrees were enormously oversalted and swimming in greasy orange cheese-type product. The predominant flavor of everything on our plates was salt. The margaritas were loaded with artificial stuff and overly sweet. Even if this type of stuff is what some others might like, the OP asked for authentic, fresh, innovative Mexican food. Teresa's does not comes close to fulfilling the criteria.

                  2. Adelita's on central in nordeast. Cheap and authentic.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bboss

                      Adelita's is aweful. It's just very American-Mexican. I am surprised it's even in town and not out in the suburbs.

                    2. Not a board favorite but I like Pancho Villa. Some standard stuff but some things that are great. The person that works with me from Mexico swears by it. Of course not everyone in Mexico has good taste.

                      Pancho Villa Restaurant
                      2539 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: ibew292

                        Pancho Villa is horrible. I couldn't even chew the meat in either the enchiladas or the tacos.

                        1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                          I guess you are entitled to you opinion. Everything I have had was very chewable. Do you have false teeth?

                          1. re: ibew292

                            Funny, ibew292. Maybe you can do some research. Find out what cuts of meat they are using. Then report back. Eat there and order anything with beef. Then report back. Gotta go. Looking for something to soak my teeth in. But it will be tough. They are all my own teeth. Not a cavity in decades. Pancho Villa is so bad it should be closed. You can't save that joint, here. Hope this encourages others to check it out and report back.

                            1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                              I'm sorry about the comment but I have never went to a Mexican place to order Beef. Pork , Chicken, and Posole is what I get. I admit I've not been there in a couple of months but last time I was there the place was filled with Hispanics. Maybe your idea of what Mexican is isn't what theirs is. Thankfully there are plenty of Mexican places with tender beef. When I eat beef in Mexico which is not often, it has always been chewy. The Senora Grill in the Midtown market beef is also chewy. Most of the cuts that have the most flavor also challenge the teeth. If you are a Masa fan then you should stay away from Pancho Villa because the cooking styles are at least 1600 miles apart.

                              1. re: ibew292

                                I really enjoyed Pancho Villa's posole. They also had great salsas. I think it is a fine place

                                1. re: docfood

                                  i think many people go to pv for traditional soups and the fish/seafood dishes. i don't think pv fits the op's criteria, but i also don't think the place sucks, though it's possible some of the "hi, i'm a gringo" dishes on the menu do, in fact, suck.

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    I've only been there once, so I certainly can't speak to whether or not this was a normal experience, but I enjoyed the flautas. One of the more authentic tastes I've found around here. But like I said, they could have been having an off day ;)

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      What does the OP want authentic or Masa? Like I have said before 1600 miles apart. If one wanted authentic I stick with my recommendation of PV.

                          2. re: ibew292

                            I thought Pancho Villa was decent. Though i was there only once, everything was pretty tasty. I had the chicken mole, and my bf had chimichanga with steak. I quite liked the chicken mole. I could very well chew the chicken even though I have cavities and fillings and even a crown. My bf also liked his steak chimichanga. He could chew everything ok too.

                            1. re: ibew292

                              Pancho Villa is my favorite sit down Mexican spot. I recall it being well regarded in these parts.

                            2. Just ate at Sonora Grill this past week - eggplant fries were awesome as were the lengua and pork tacos that I tried.
                              You mentioned not eating at Salsa/A la Salsa, and I find them for a sit down experience to be very solid. Not innovative like Masa, but the food is solid. A visit without getting the papusas is a mistake in my opinion.
                              You could try both if at Midtown Global Market and find something that works (huaraches at Taqueria Los Ocampos are guilty delight of mine).

                              1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                              A la Salsa
                              Minneapolis, MN, Minneapolis, MN

                              Taqueria Los Ocampo
                              809 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: eastlakovore

                                I like Sonora Grill and Los Ocampos Minneapolis locations. I like Manny's Tortas and La Loma Tamales. I think Adelitas is good, too, but not as good as Sonora Grill or Los Ocampos.

                                My last trip was a long time ago, but in my opinion Masa is a Frontera Grill wannabe and they fall short. I don't like it.

                                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                  You nailed it...Masa IS a Frontera Grill wannabe...but it's what we have and still tasty.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    If you ever make it to Salt Lake City, go directly to Frida's Bistro.

                                      1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                        will be there next week and will give it a shot.

                                        so this doesn't get deleted, be sure to give pineda burritos a shot as well 

                                        1. re: kevin47


                                          You're going to SLC? Good luck with Frida's. If you like margaritas, they made some really interesting ones when I was there last year.

                                          I went to Pineda on Shelard Parkway (in same strip mall as Tea House Plymouth). The tacos were not bad, but not great. I've been eating burritos from El Taco Riendo.

                                          Apparently, El Taco Riendo is expanding into a larger location just south of their current location.

                                          And Sonora Grill is expanding east on lake street into what I think I remember used to be an Embers and then some kind of East African restaurant. I wonder if their menu will expand.

                                          1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                            There are just some locations that seem to be death to restaurants. I hope Sonora has better luck in that location than the three restaurants which preceded it: Embers, Molly Quinn's, and House of Lalibela.

                                            1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                              I'm very encouraged the the fact that there's a growing cluster of that end of Lake Street--Parka, Sonora, and (for along time) Craftsman and even Longfellow Grill. Maybe people will think "Hey, Lake Street" more often now. It can easily draw people from both St. Paul and Minneapolis. Less easy from the suburbs, though.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                My trusty Google Maps app will take me anywhere there's good food. Lake Street? No problem!

                                2. Aurelias in Eden Prairie is fantastic. Get the Torta. Specifically the Al Pastor. Man alive, its HUGE. Its a husband and wife. He runs the front and she cooks. Tacos are excellent as well. You should go there now. You won't be sorry.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: erics667

                                    Oh, man - ANOTHER good place to eat in Eden Prairie?!?!?!? (see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759167)

                                    It's almost enough to make me regret choosing a new job in downtown St. Paul over one in Eden Prairie. Yes, I chose my job for lunch-based reasons, but now I'm questioning my decision. For one thing, there's no Indian food in downtown St. P; nor is there any good, cheap, authentic Mexican food (yes, I know it's just across the bridge, but that's too far when one is on foot).

                                    I need to plan a trip to Aurelia's for that Al Pastor Torta. And I notice they serve breakfast from 11-3 on weekends - that's my kind of place!

                                  2. Mercado Central - many authentic choice there.

                                    1. IF drinks are part of your dinner - I'd vote for Masa.