Apr 072012

Cuisine: Breakfast, South American
Restaurant Features: Beer & Wine, On-Site Parking,
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address:  2851 Central Avenue NE  Minneapolis, MN 55418  612-788-1328
Hours: Mon-Thur: 11a–3p / 5p–10p Fri: 11a–11p  Sat: 8a–11p  Sun: 8a–9a
Links: Chimborazo Website * Chimborazo on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Chimborazo is located in Northeast Minneapolis on Central Ave at 29th Street.  The building is small and stands alone at the corner and the sign is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Inside the restaurant there are several tables running along the walls and a handful of round tables in the middle.  It is cozy, with warm yellow walls and framed woven tapestries in the style native to South America.  Each table had a little vase with cute fresh flowers that we thought was a nice touch.

Menu: Breakfast is available from 8am-2pm and includes Chimborazo (pancakes, roast pork and egg), Tungurahua (eggs, rice, beans), Cotopaxi, Llapingachos (potato pancakes with onion and cheese), Mote Pillo (Hominy with scrambled eggs), Tortilla de Puerco, Tortilla de Espinaca), Buttermilk Pancakes, Pancakes de Platanos, Empanada de Queso, Eggs, Chorizo, and Bacon.

Appetizers include Ceviche de Camaron, Muchin de Yuca (cassava croquettes filled with onion and cheese), Yuca Frita, Empanada de Queso, Empanada de Carne, Llapingachos, Patacones con Queso, and Platano Maduro.

Chimborazo has a selection of Sopas including Soup of the Day, Encebollado, Caldo de Bolas de Verde, and Caldo de Bagre.

Sandwiches offered include Roasted Pork, Grilled Chicken and Veggie.

Entrees at Chimborazo include Hornados con Papas, Seco de Carne, Seco de Pollo, Saltado, Milanesa de Pollo, Churrasco, Llapingachos con Chorizo, Chaulafan (Ecuadorian Fried Rice), Encocado de Mahi Mahi or Shrimp, Chupe de Pescado, and Ecuatoriano Vegetariano.

Desserts include Coconut Batido, Tres Leches Cake, and Higos con Queso
Price guide: Appetizers $2-10 Sandwiches $7-8  Entrees $9-12
What we ordered: Chimborazo does not have a bar but does serve beer and wine in addition to a couple of non-alcoholic drinks such as the Coconut Batido.  This was my first time trying this particular batido and I loved the toasted coconut flavor of the drink, it gave it a nice nutty taste that was quite pronounced in a very good way.  It was a frozen blend of coconut milk, ice, toasted coconut, (and perhaps other magical ingredients) then was topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. It wasn’t overly sweet but would be great for dessert; I took me an hour to finish it but it was delicious.

My companion and I started off with a couple of different Appetizers, starting with the Platanos Maduros.  These were thick slices of sweet platanos (banana) fried and then topped with soft, mild, melted white cheese.  The platanos were served with the most delicious sauce called aji criollo, an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.  The spicy, citrusy sauce worked well with the sweetness of the banana and creaminess of the cheese. Yum!

We also tried the Empanada de Queso.  This pocket of dough was filled with soft, mild white cheese then fried until golden brown and flaky.  It was dusted with powdered sugar that gave it a hint of sweetness.  This makes a good appetizer, snack or dessert!

We also tried the Empanada de Carne.  This was fantastic! Inside the beautiful crispy brown crust were bite-sized pieces of grilled steak, peas, red pepper and onions.  It was served with fresh diced tomatoes and I also dipped it in the aji criollo sauce which made it even better.

There were many dishes that sounded really good but I ended up ordering the Hornados con Papas for my entree.  The pork is slow roasted for 16 hours until it is extremely tender.  The pork was served with llapingachos, which were ‘pancakes’ of creamy seasoned mashed potatoes filled with cheese and then browned.  Very tasty! The dish was also served with salad and mote, which is what hominy is called in Spanish.  It is similar to corn but bigger and not nearly as sweet.

My companion ordered the Encocado with Mahi Mahi.  This dish was rich and full of flavor, the sauce made from coconut milk, coconut, lime juice, orange juice, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, bell pepper and cilantro.  It was both sweet and savory at the same time, and went really well with the mild mahi mahi.  The rice was just the right accompaniment to soak up the rich sauce.

For dessert we shared the Tres Leches Cake, which was very good .  It wasn’t overly moist but the leches were still distinguishable.  It was topped with whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberries.  I wish I hadn’t been too full to have more than a bite or two.

Service: My companion and I met at Chimborazo on a weekday when it was just opening for dinner.  We had our pick of both parking spots and tables in the dining room.  Our server was nice and took time to explain various items from the menu and we were very happy with her suggestions.

Overall Impression:  We both enjoyed Chimborazo a lot and I am now very much turned on to South American food.  The food and service were both very good at Chimborazo and the prices were reasonable for the amount of food we got.  If you like coconut, there are many dishes you will likely enjoy at Chimborazo. We will be back!
Chimborazo on Urbanspoon

Jul 272011

Cuisine: Caribbean, Creole, South American, Spanish, Fish, Seafood
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Nightclub
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address: 501 East Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55414  (612) 331-3360

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2am  Sat-Sun 4:30pm- 2am
Links: Conga Latin Bistro Website * Conga on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Conga Latin Bistro is located in Northeast Minneapolis, at Hennepin and Central Ave.  The dining room takes up about half the space, with a colorful mural of conga drums gracing the back wall and two large, floor-to-ceiling wooden conga drums at the entrance.  There are mostly tables but there a couple of round booths along the outer wall that can accommodate up to six people.  It was very comfortable and had a very clean feel to it.

The bar and dance floor area take up at least half of the space, a very popular place on weekend nights when it turns into a nightclub.

Menu: Appetizers at Conga Latin Bistro include Empanadas, Chicken Croquettes, Calamares a La Romana, Seafood Ceviche, Plantain and Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Plaintain Tapas, Green Plantain Tapas, Chicken Wings, Habanero Chicken Wings, Fried Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Sweet Plantains with Queso Fresco, Yuca xon Mojo, Burrito Cubano, Tacos, Nachos and Cheese Platter, and French Fries in Garlic Butter.

Soups offered include Black Bean, Asopao de Mariscos, Asopao de Pollo, and Soup of the Day.

Salads offered are the House, Cesar, and Avocado Mango Salad.

Rice dishes at Conga Latin Bistro include Arroz con Pollo, Arroz con Camarones, Arroz con Vegetales, and Arroz con Mariscos.

Entrees include Jamaican Chicken, Pollo Al Ajillo, Pollo Isabel, Bistec Encebollado, Chicken Parmesan, Pork Tenderloin with Mofongo, Filet Mignon, Ropa Vieja, and Pernil (roast pork).

Seafood entrees include Tilapia in Curry and Coconut Sauce, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Spicy Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Victoria, Halibut in Garlic Sauce and Broiled Salmon in Brandy.

Specialty Dishes at Conga Latin Bistro include Churrasco Argentino, Parrillada Argentina, New York Steak with Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Steak and Scallops, Halibut a la Mar, Seafood Stew, Paella Valenciana, Paella Marinera.

Desserts include Flan, Tres Leches Cake, and Rice Pudding.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-12  Entrees $10-20  Paella $40-50  Desserts $4-5

Happy Hour:

  • Mon-Fri  5-7pm

What we ordered: I visited on one of the hottest days we’ve had this summer and nothing sounded better than an icy, frozen drink so I ordered a Pina Colada (2 for 1 during Happy Hour).  It was refreshing and tasted like a non-alcoholic pina colada.  Seriously, I don’t think it had any rum, which was a shame.

One of my companions ordered a Mango Pineapple Margarita.  This drink was sweet and slightly tart, not too strong.

We started with the Ceviche appetizer.  This was a nice mix of chunks of shrimp, fish, clams marinated in lime juice then tossed with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro.  Light, refreshing and tangy, a perfect appetizer for a hot day.  Served with a side of tortilla chips that may have been Tostitos.

We also ordered the Habanero Chicken Wings.  There were six giant, breaded wings that were tossed in a spicy habanero sauce.  These wings were not saturated with sauce like buffalo wings often are, which is probably a good thing because they were much spicier!  Great if you like a lot of heat, if not, they were served with a side of ranch dressing to help cool them down.  The order was also served with a basket of french fries.

My companions and I ordered all of our entrees to share. One of the entrees we ordered was the Shrimp Victoria.  This was a delicious, but interesting dish consisting of 7-8 peeled shrimp swimming in a creamy sour cream and wine sauce with thinly sliced mushrooms.  It was served with white rice.

Another dish we ordered was the Pork Tenderloin with Mofongo, which came highly recommended by our server.  The center of this dish was the Mofongo, made of fried, crushed plantains with olive oil and garlic.  The pork tenderloin was cut into eight bite-sized pieces, then seared and served in a dark wine sauce with sauteed onions.

The last entree we tried was the Arroz con Mariscos.  The dish of rice was seasoned with Saffron, then tossed with bots of rice, peas, olives and onions.  The rice was tossed with small pieces of Mussels, Shrimp, Halibut, Clams, Crab and Calamari, which were all overcooked.  We all liked the flavor of the rice but wish the seafood would’ve been tender as it should be.

Service: We had no problem getting a parking space on the street outside the restaurant on a very hot weekday afternoon, nor did we have any problem getting a table.  In fact, we were a few of the only customers at the time we arrived and had our pick.  Our server was nice, but spoke with a strong accent and had a few problems communicating with us.  Our food and drinks were taken care of in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall Impression: We had a decent experience at Conga Latin Bistro.  The food we tried was good, and while I wouldn’t say it was great,  I would definitely get the ceviche again.
Conga Latin Bistro on Urbanspoon
Conga Latin Bistro Reviews in Minneapolis

Aug 262010

Cuisine: Street Foods from around the Equator:  Asian, Caribbean, Mexican, South American, and Polynesian
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Bar
Location: Minneapolis (Uptown)
Address: 2916 Hennepin Ave  Minneapolis, MN  55408  ( 612) 824-7878

Hours: Sun-Thurs  4:30pm-1am   Fri-Sat  4:30p-2am

Links: Chino Latino Website * Chino Latino on FacebookGoogle Map

Outside Chino Latino

Outside Chino Latino

Atmosphere:  Chino Latino is located in Uptown on Hennepin Ave at Lake St (across from Calhoun Square).  It is a cool and chic restaurant that runs two stories, with most tables set closely together.  Most of the tables are big enough for larger parties, but there is also a extra-long community table on the lower level that allows for much bigger parties.  One side of the restaurant hosts a sushi bar, the other side has a giant bar that illuminates the entire restaurant with its orange glow.  The kitchen is on the lower level, as are the bathrooms.
Inside Chino Latino

Inside Chino Latino

Inside View of Chino Latino

Inside View of Chino Latino

Menu: The Menu at Chino Latino is printed on a daily basis, so items may vary depending on season and availability.

Tacos include Barbacoa (shredded beef), Tinga (stewed chicken), Crunchy Carne, and Mijangos (stewed chicken).

Sushi Options include Chipotle Salmon Roll, Salmon Roll, White Tiger Roll, Tuna Tataki, Weed Eater, Kalifornia Krab Roll, Spicy Mango Shrimp Caterpillar Roll, Ring of Fire Roll, and Sushi Sampler.

Little Dishes on my visit included Habanero Poppers, Queso Fundido, Chinese BBQ ribs, Black Laab (Thai lettuce wraps),  Jerk Chicken Skewers, Shrimp Feast, Tostada de Tinga, Firecracker Wings, Popocatepe (nacho-style fries), Potstickers, Shrimp Wraps, Shrimp Lollopops, Plum Blossom Salad, Bulgogi Beef Lettuce Cup, Empanada de Janeiro, Pescado Ahumado, Satay, Nachos del Sol, Chicken Enchiladas, Calamari, Mushi-Buro Beef, Crispy Saigon Rolls, Spicy Edamame, and Polynesian Pupu Platter.

Bigger Dishes to Share include Carne Asada Ala Moreliana (taco platter), Coconut Shrimp Curry, Mahi Mahi, Lo Mein, Philippine Paella, Fish Taco Platter, Banana Boat Chicken, Cuban Pork Roast, Mandarin Beef Stir Fry, Jerked Chicken, Big Chipotle Burrito, Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice, Miso Noodles, Kung Pao Chicken, Argentine Rodizio Roast, Cuban Pig Roast, and Cuy (roasted Guinea Pig).

Dessert Options include Deep Fried Snickers, Molten Chocolate Cake, Fried Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream, S’Mores Platter, Chocolate Flandango (flan layered with chocolate cake), Brownie Tres Leches, Fried Ice Cream, Mango Spiced Cake, Ice Cream, and Banana Split.

There are countless “Hot Zone Cocktails” at Chino Latino including a variety of Mojitos, Martinis, Margaritas, and many other fruity drinks.  Several Beers and Wines also available.

Price guide: Tacos $3-4  Sushi $12-25  Little Plates $7-17  Big Plates  $19-35  Desserts $6-14

What we ordered: **Must warn you that these photos are not very good, I was forced to use flash because of the eerie orange glow**

I started with the House Margarita, made with Sauza, fresh lime juice and Triple Sec.  Maybe I have gotten spoiled with all the sweet margaritas I have had lately, but I thought this margarita was terrible! It was bitter and strong, no matter how many limes I squeezed into it, it did not get much better.  A few of my friends had the same one and enjoyed it.  Must be a matter of preference, but I would not get it again.

Margarita ~ Chino Latino

Margarita ~ Chino Latino

I ordered the Pescado Ahumado, a delicious dish of bite-size pieces of smoked swordfish tossed in a light, creamy citrusy dressing, served with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, and thick corn tortilla chips.  I loved it!  The smokiness of the fish was subtle but gave it such a nice flavor, there was no hint of fishiness at all.  The texture of the swordfish was very dense, almost more like poultry than fish.  Excellent choice!

Pescado Ahumado ~ Chino Latino

Pescado Ahumado ~ Chino Latino

One of my companions ordered the Chicken Enchiladas.  There were 3-4 corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken and black beans, then covered with a spicy chile salsa and topped with shredded lettuce, sour cream and tomatoes.  I tried some of these enchiladas and thought they were good, but not a highlight on the Chino Latino menu.  So many other fun and yummy things to try!

Chicken Enchiladas ~ Chino Latino

Chicken Enchiladas ~ Chino Latino

Another companion ordered Fried Rice with Chicken.  This was a giant order of fried rice, with tons of peppers, green onion, egg and chicken.  Absolutely delicious!

Chicken Fried Rice ~ Chino Latino

Chicken Fried Rice ~ Chino Latino

Another companion ordered the Potstickers, an order of six large pan-fried dumplings stuffed with chicken and vegetables.  Served with a ginger-soy dipping sauce.  Very yummy!

Postickers ~ Chin Latino

Postickers ~ Chin Latino

Another companion ordered the Ochos Rios Jerk Chicken Skewers, one of the best things that I tried! The chicken was very spicy and served with a delicious, refreshing mango pico de gallo.  The sweetness of the mango was the perfect compliment to the spicy chicken.

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa ~ Chino Latino

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa ~ Chino Latino

Another companion ordered the Nachos del Sol.  These nachos were unlike most you might be familiar with, because they were served with fried plantain chips instead of tortilla chips.  The bowl contained black beans, chorizo, pico de gallo, queso fresco, sour cream and jalapenos for dipping the chips.

Nachos ~ Chino Latino

Nachos ~ Chino Latino

And last but not least, is the Sushi Sampler that two of my companions shared.  Just one look at this tray and I was envious of their choice! For $25, this is the best sushi deal you can get at Chino Latino because you get to try the Tiger Shrimp Roll, Mango Shrimp Caterpillar Roll, Wasabi Tuna Balls, and Chipotle Salmon Roll.  Outstanding sushi!

Sushi Platter ~ Chino Latino

Sushi Platter ~ Chino Latino

Service: We had very good service while at Chino Latino.  We had a party of eight without a reservation but they were able to seat us without too long of a wait.  The drinks took some time and the food was brought out as it was made, so we were all eating at different times.  One thing that is very nice is that Chino Latino has some round tables and booths made for up to 10 people so we were all able to conversate more intimately and there is a lazy-susan in the middle of the table to easily share dishes.
Overall Impression: I love the food at Chino Latino and think the concept of  “street foods from the hot zones” is absolutely genius.  I wish the prices were a little more affordable so I could eat there often and try everything on the menu!

Chino Latino on Urbanspoon