Pandemic Takeout 62: Coco’s Place (Northfield, MN)


The food plan for this weekend was a takeout run to Namaste India Grill all the way up in Arden Hills. But the crappy weather on Saturday (though my vegetable garden plot appreciated it greatly) put paid to that. So instead of picking up Indian food from the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities to take to our pod friends’ home for dinner we picked up Mexican food right here in our own town. And for a change we did not pick it up from El Triunfo. No, we got it instead from Coco’s Place, a new restaurant located on the town’s main drag, Division Street. This is the spot previously occupied by another Mexican restauant, Kahlo, which I never got around to reviewing before they moved to a less settled situation down the street. Kahlo, by the way, is the venture of the chef/owner who had operated Maria’s at the same location that now houses El Triunfo. Coco’s Place meanwhile is the first official retail location of a food business that has been in operation for a few years now but not previously from a storefront. Well, despite my ongoing loyalty to El Triunfo (for food and extra-food reasons) I am very glad to also have Coco’s Place in town now. Their menu is not identical to that at El Triunfo but the food we got from them was very tasty as well. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 52: Back to Homi (St. Paul, MN)


Those who read my pandemic takeout posts regularly know that we’ve been wanting and planning to get back to Homi for a while now. Something or the other has been getting in the way. We could have hit them up a week ago but the weather that weekend was not going to be conducive to outdoor dining and so we decided to do a Vietnamese meal (from Trieu Chau) by ourselves. This past weekend, however, was a different story. It was warm and sunny which meant we could return to pandemic deck lunching with friends—which in turn meant we could get a very large order from Homi, with most of our favourite dishes on it. And so we did. And it was good. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 46: El Triunfo (Northfield, MN)


It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on Northfield’s house of Mexican deliciousness, El Triunfo. Which is not to say that we hadn’t eaten their food since my last report. Indeed, today’s pandemic takeout report covers things eaten over four meals. Since my previous report they’d opened for dining-in, closed it down again when the governor mandated it (not a given in these parts) but have not yet restarted it after the restrictions were once again loosened in January. They are still ticking along but business is not exactly booming. The food is as delicious as ever though and if you are in town or within easy reach I urge you to give them a call. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 21: Homi (St. Paul)


Our takeout range has expanded a fair bit in the last few months of the pandemic. At the end of June we finally made it to the Twin Cities’ true “Eat Street” to pick up Thai food from Bangkok Thai Deli. We then went back for more Thai food from Thai Cafe. And last weekend we finally got back to our favourite Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities: Homi. I’ve reviewed meals at Homi thrice before (first in 2016 and then in 2018 and 2019). After our trip to India in January we had been looking forward to going back and then the pandemic hit. We’d have liked to have supported them through the early months of the stay at home orders but living 50-60 minutes away, as we do, it just wasn’t on the cards. I am glad to be able to report therefore that they have made it through the pandemic so far and that the food we picked up from them on Saturday to eat with friends in their backyard in St. Paul was perhaps the best meal we’ve had from them in some time. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 20: Back to El Triunfo (Northfield, MN)


I am very glad to report that our favourite restaurant in our little town, El Triunfo, seems to have weathered the pandemic fine so far. Business seems to be steady—makes sense as their food is as good as ever. I haven’t reported on our meals there since mid-May but we’ve been picking up food every once in a while, even as we’ve expanded our takeout range quite a lot since then. Their socially distanced pickup routine has changed a bit since my first pandemic report. Curbside pickup now happens via the front entry of the restaurant. Everything else more or less remains the same. You can still pay over the phone if you prefer to (as we do) or you can go in—with a mask on, naturally—and pay and pick up your food. The phone number and pictures of the menu are included in the slideshow below. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 07: Back to El Triunfo


El Triunfo, as I noted last week, is the place we’ve been ordering the most takeout from during the quarantine. Both because we like the food and because we want to support this immigrant family business that is such an important part of our town as far as we are concerned. I’m glad to say that, at least as far as I can tell, they are doing decent business during the pandemic. We get food from them about once a week and each week it’s seemed like there have been more people waiting outside to pick up orders. I do hope they will make it through. Here now is a brief report on what we’ve been getting from them over the last month. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 01: El Triunfo (Northfield, MN)


People who pay attention to my restaurant reviews know that I am not very high on most of the food options in our small town in Southern Minnesota. This, however, is not a time for restaurant meal reviews of the kind I write in normal times. These are not normal times. I am rooting for all the restaurants out there even as I know that many/most of them will have a tough time making it through the business crash of the pandemic. And I am particularly rooting for the restaurants whose owners don’t have deep pockets or investors backing them or easy access to loans or the ability to leverage most of the strategies that more established and savvy restaurants are deploying to survive. The deck is stacked against them even in normal times and even more so now. Which brings me to El Triunfo, a small grocery and informal restaurant in our town that people who pay attention to my restaurant reviews know I am very high on. I am rooting for all the restaurants in our town to make it—even the ones I’ve said the rudest things about in normal times—but I hope they’ll forgive me if I admit that I’m rooting the hardest for El Triunfo.  Continue reading

A Return to Homi and the Question of Who Makes Money Cooking Mexican Food?


As I have said before, since the demise of La Huasteca, Homi on University Avenue in St. Paul (where else?) has been our favourite Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities. I’ve reviewed it twice before (here and here). But I like to keep up on the blog with our favourite restaurants, not just eating there but also reporting on their trajectories over time, checking in on how things are going. Accordingly, I have another report today on a recent dinner at Homi. We ate there two weeks ago with friends after a rather disappointing theater outing (The Song of the Summer at Mixed Blood). The dinner, I am glad to say, was much better. Continue reading

El Triunfo, 2019 (Northfield, MN)


I may not have much of a readership on my blog but I also am under no pressure to chase novelty. I am free to return to restaurants, either to check in to see if they’re still as good as they were or to continue to shine a (small) light on deserving places that don’t get much if any attention from the professionals. The latter description fits El Triunfo, the best restaurant in Northfield, MN very well. I’ve reported on them twice before in the last five years but that’s not to say we’ve only eaten there twice in the last five years. They are our go to for all our “oh shit, we haven’t cooked” dinners or weekend lunches and I often stop in for lunch from campus as well. I am glad to report that they’re still going strong—though their menu has shrunk quite a bit since my first report—and that their food is still very tasty. Continue reading

Popol Vuh (Minneapolis)


Popol Vuh, a high-end Mexican restaurant, opened in trendy Northeast Minneapolis—or Nordeast as the really trendy people refer to it—last autumn and we’ve been planning to eat there ever since. This even though they describe their cuisine in terms I deplore: “elevated Mexican cuisine”. Mexican cuisine does not need to be elevated. We don’t refer to high-end French or Italian or Japanese restaurants as serving “elevated” versions of those cuisines and there is really no need to justify higher prices for a high-end, cheffy iteration of Mexican cuisine by calling it “elevated”. And people who might be iffy about paying the big bucks for any form of Mexican food—alas, I am sure such people exist, and not just in the Twin Cities—are not, I think, very likely to go, “Oh, so it’s elevated Mexican food, that’s entirely different!” In other words, you’re not convincing anyone to come by billing your food as “elevated”, you’re only displaying anxiety about the status of what you do and inadvertently implying that the rest of the cuisine is down there somewhere near a gutter. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Andale Mercado (Richfield, MN)


I posted a review on Tuesday of a recent lunch at Andale Taqueria in Richfield. We enjoyed that meal very much. We also enjoyed browsing their neighbouring mercado/grocery store after lunch. I’d originally planned to report on both simultaneously, but for the sake of my sanity, decided to break it into two separate posts (resizing photographs is no fun). I’m not sure if the mercado or the taqueria came first for the proprietors of Andale—if you know more about this, please write in below—but they’re an excellent 1-2 punch. Indeed, the market is a good alternative to the restaurant for heartier food to go. 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