Homi, Again (St. Paul, MN)

A nice thing about reviewing restaurants on your own blog is that there’s no compulsion to only go to new(er) places—you can go back and revisit places and see if they’ve maintained their standards (and in some cases, to see if they’ve gotten better). I’ve done a fair bit of that this year with returns to Tilia, Hmongtown Marketplace, Bangkok Thai Deli, Szechuan, Tea House, House of Curry, Spoon and Stable, A&L Chinese, On’s Kitchen and Grand Szechuan. Here now is my second report on what is now probably our favourite Mexican restaurant, Homi, on University Avenue in St. Paul. I posted my first write-up just over two years ago. We’ve eaten there a few more times since and this seems like a good time for a re-visit on the blog. This report covers meals eaten over the last year and a half, though the pictures are all from two dinners, one last summer, and one two weekends ago. I am happy to report that Homi is still very good. 

The major change since my first report is that Homi—and their neighbours on University—are no longer plagued by the Green Line construction. Indeed, there’s now a stop right opposite the restaurant and I can only hope that this brings them even more traffic than they previously enjoyed. They now have an attractive new sign up over the front entrance (I’m not sure why they got rid of the Mexican flag though—a sign of the political times?). As we’d arrived by car, however, we entered through the back, which is unchanged. Also unchanged is the interior of the restaurant. This is both to the good (I like the feel of the place) and not-so-good (their air-conditioning is no better than before and our recent dinner was at the tail end of a heatwave). The menu is also unchanged, and that is entirely to the good.

On our visits since the first report we’ve tried to eat more of their menu but we’ve also gone back to some of our favourite dishes. Meals still start with complimentary chips and salsa (make sure to get the red and the green) and it’s still a good idea to get some of their made-to-order guacamole. Beyond that you should order whatever catches your eye: it’s al going to be good. Here are the dishes covered in this report:

  • Quesadillas with mildly spicy chicken. This was ordered by a teenaged member of the party on our recent visit. He shared only a small bite with me, the covetous bastard, and assured me that he always gets quesadillas at Homi, not because they’re the best thing on their menu but because they’re better there than anywhere else. My bite was certainly very good.
  • Sopes. Though we didn’t ask for them that way they came with carne asada on the occasion we tried them. Good but nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Tamales en Hoja de Platano: I’ve previously reported on their corn husk tamales (quite good); on our most recent trip we tried the banana leaf tamales. These might be even better. They come with pork in a red sauce.
  • Carnitas. Always good.
  • Milanesa de pollo: These are for our brats and they scarf them down. (Though I do wish they did a pork version as well.)
  • Pollo en pipian rojo: This is one of our favourite dishes there and so it pains me to say that it was not its best self on our most recent visit. This is because I failed to specify that we wanted it spicy. It was still very good though and still a ludicrously large portion.
  • Enmoladas: Basically chicken enchiladas in their mole. Very good.
  • Pollo en estofado: Another of our favourites, this mild stewed chicken with potatoes was very good at our recent meal as well.
  • Tinga de pollo: Also very good but I think I prefer the version at our local El Triunfo—they use more chipotles in the sauce.
  • Camarones al ajo: Shrimp in garlic like the name says, and rather tasty; also, rather a lot of shrimp.
  • Mole de olla: I got this for the first time on our most recent visit and it was very good. It would have been dynamite, however, if I’d asked for it to be spicy as well. In this case I didn’t because the menu lists it as “spicy beef stew”.
  • Consome de borrego con barbacoa: A lovely lamb soup with rice and veg, served with lamb barbacoa on the side and various toppings.

Most of the above come with beans and rice and tortillas on the side.

Take a look at the pictures of the food and space in the slideshow below and scroll down for thoughts on service and value and to see what’s coming next.

Prices do not seem to have changed appreciably since my first report. These prices are, on the face of it, a bit higher than those at some of their competition. However, portions are very generous and the quality is very good and I have no objections on this score. Their service, alas, could still get a lot better. I don’t mind the food taking longer to come out as it’s all very good but on our last visit our server was a young gent who was a bit of a disaster. He took our order and then came back a few minutes later to ask if we could repeat the whole thing. There was confusion after that about the numbers of some of the things we’d ordered and in one case we got not what we’d ordered but something else entirely (though it was very tasty). I do wish this aspect of the restaurant—along with the air-conditioning in the summer—would improve. However, they clearly do a brisk take-out business and so this may not be an issue for much of their clientele. And despite my complaints on these counts, I would happily eat there again very soon. And I would urge you go try their food if you somehow still haven’t done so.

I do want to expand my Mexican coverage though. If you’re a local are there other places you’d recommend? While I wait for those suggestions to come in, my next couple of Twin Cities reports will also be returns: to Peninsula in Minneapolis and Thai Cafe in St. Paul. At some point I’ll also write up the paean to University Avenue in St. Paul that I’ve been composing in my head for a while now. And I’ll be interspersing reports of Scotland and London dining among these Twin Cities reports as well.

3 thoughts on “Homi, Again (St. Paul, MN)

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