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

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

El Triunfo (Northfield)


El Triunfo
Northfield, Minnesota is a small college town of just over 20,000 people. Its motto, derived from the presence of a number of dairy farms in the vicinity and two liberal arts colleges in town, is “Cows, Colleges and Contentment”. This contentment, however, rarely derives from the quality of food available in town. Perhaps because both colleges are residential (and most of the students on paid meal plans) the town does not offer the wealth of acceptable dining options available in many college towns across the US. Continue reading

Chimborazo (Minneapolis)

Well, it’s the middle of the month and there haven’t been any food posts yet. To rectify that here is a brief account of a meal at Chimborazo, a popular Ecuadorean restaurant in North Minneapolis (way up on Central Avenue).

I don’t know anything about Ecuadorean food and I am going to refrain from holding forth like an expert after some desultory googling. I did know going in that Ecuador has an extensive coastline as well inland mountainous areas but I’d never really thought much about what that might mean food-wise. If I had thought about it perhaps I would have guessed that the cuisine has distinct zones with seafood and coconut at one end and a lot of starchy stuff at the other. What I would not have predicted is the use of peanuts (yes, yes, please remind me that peanut is native to South America). In some ways the food we ate felt like it was from somewhere between the Caribbean and South East Asia. If this seems outrageous, please chalk it up to my ignorance and tell me better. Continue reading