El Triunfo, Three Years On (Northfield, MN)


It was almost three years ago that I first wrote up El Triunfo, a small family-run Mexican eatery and market in Northfield, MN. We’ve been eating there at a regular clip since and the time seems right to post a quick update on the blog. It’s not that there have been major changes to the menu. In fact, not only are there are no new things on the menu since I last reviewed them but a few things have dropped off the menu. Tragically, they no longer have goat barbacoa on the weekends (I was told a while ago that not enough people were ordering it) and some of the things on the regular menu have also dropped off. Business on the whole, however, I am happy to say, seems to be going really well. Continue reading

Homi (St. Paul)

Homi: Costillitas de Puerco en Adobo
Homi has been around on University Avenue in St. Paul for seven years now. Friends who work and live in the area had been telling me about it for some time now but somehow we didn’t get around to eating there until earlier this summer. This is largely because we are creatures of habit—when food shopping in St. Paul we’d eat at On’s Kitchen or Bangkok Thai Deli; our Mexican eating would happen on the way to and back food shopping in north Minneapolis—at Los Ocampo or Maya or, for a brief, glorious period, at La Huasteca. After the demise of the original version of La Huasteca, however, we were in need of a place that would fill the soulful hole in our Mexican food world (neither Los Ocampo and Maya quite fit that description). And so we finally ended up at Homi. And while I am not quite ready to say that it has helped me come to terms with the disappearance of Jose Gonzalez’s birria and barbacoa (and much else), I will say that Homi comes pretty close.  Continue reading

Tacos etc. at Los Ocampo (Minneapolis)

Los Ocampo: Tacos
Taqueria Los Ocampo was one of the first places we ate Mexican food at in the Twin Cities, shortly after our arrival in Minnesota in 2007. To be exact, it was the third place. The first was the late, lamented La Sirena Gorda in the Midtown Market (I can still recall the taste memory of their octopus tacos) and the second was the food counter at Bymore Meats, also at the Midtown Market—there I was partial to their goat tacos. The outpost of Los Ocampo in the Midtown Market eventually seduced us as well, but the quality of the toppings was never quite as good as at the other two places. But we spread our custom generously, picking a taco or two from their counter to eat alongside things from the other two places. After the demise of La Sirena Gorda and Bymore Meats we took our appetites across the street to their larger, stand-alone restaurant on the corner of Chicago and Lake and discovered that the quality was much better there. Throw in the fact that they’re open very late into the night on weekends, and in our pre-parent days this branch of Los Ocampo was thus often where we ate after a show or a late movie in the Cities.  Continue reading

Pozole Rojo

Pozole Rojo, Rancho Gordo
So I said last week in my Palak Posole post that I’d not already purchased hominy/posole from Rancho Gordo on account of the fact that I associated posole entirely with the Mexican soup/stew of near-identical name, and that as our local house of Mexican goodness, El Triunfo, offers a very good version on weekends I didn’t need to make it at home. Here I am, therefore, with a recipe for a rough and ready pozole rojo. You see, I soaked and cooked a pound of posole last week and even after using a lot of it in the Palak Posole and some more in a keema dish (recipe coming soon) I had a few cups left over. And as I also had a large package of pork neck bones in the freezer, it was hard to not end up making pozole. I’ve eaten a lot of pozole but have never made it before. Scanning the intertubes it didn’t seem like the hardest thing to do. What follows is an approximation/intersection of a number of recipes I looked at. If you want a more precise recipe (and with chicken rather than pork) you could do far worse than to look at the posole rojo recipe in the Rancho Gordo e-booklet on posole. Whatever recipe you use, the results are likely to be good. Continue reading

La Huasteca (Minneapolis)

La Huasteca: Barbacoa de Chivo
La Huasteca opened sometime in 2014. It first flashed on my radar in the early part of the summer of 2015 as a birria (a lamb stew) and barbacoa de chivo (slow cooked goat) specialist. I put it on my list but then we went off to L.A and I forgot about it. Thanks to reports on Chowhound it came back on my radar and recently I pulled some friends together so we could go out and sample a goodly portion of the menu. And we did. And man, was it good! I’m tempted to say that it’s the best Mexican food I’ve had in Minnesota, but I need to renew my acquaintance with a number of the other local luminaries. For what it’s worth, it blew our recent meals at Maya Cuisine out of the water. Not just because they have things on the menu here far beyond what’s on offer at Maya, but because even the things that are similar are better here, and the preparation on everything was top-notch. If you haven’t been you should go. And you should go this week. Do it.  Continue reading

Maya Cuisine (Minneapolis)

Maya Cuisine: Al Pastor Taco
When I redid my restaurant/meal review listings as separate pages I noted in the “introduction” to the Minnesota page that the Twin Cities and environs have a surprisingly robust Mexican food scene and that I should really review more of it. Accordingly, here is a review of Maya Cuisine in Northeast Minneapolis, in the long “ethnic” corridor of Central Avenue. It opened just over three years ago and has since received quite a bit of acclaim in the mainstream Twin Cities food world. Another way of saying this might be to note that in all our visits (always on weekend mornings) we’ve found the clientele to skew far more non-Mexican/Hispanic than at our usual ports of call for Mexican food. But this is not to say that the food is watered down or Americanized—far from it; but the menu is, nonetheless, not quite as hardcore as some of those other places (more on this below). Continue reading

Grand Central Market (Los Angeles, July/August 2014)

Grand Central Market, Los AngelesGrand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles received a major (ongoing) facelift a little over a year ago, consonant with the ongoing gentrification of downtown in general. The entire area has been transformed utterly from what it was when I first arrived in Los Angeles in 1993, right after the riots. Then, the “fortress” of the financial district, as Mike Davis memorably describes it in City of Quartz, was largely deserted after the close of business, and the experience of the rest of downtown was in stark contrast to the gleaming skyscrapers and business hotels that had been constructed in the middle of it, a “self-referential hyperstructure”, to once again use Davis’s language. Continue reading