Mar 062010
 

Cuisine: Authentic Mexican, Fish & Seafood
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, Live Music, Market, On Site Parking,
Location: St Paul, MN (District del Sol)
Address: 175 Cesar Chavez St. St. Paul, MN 55107   651-227-2192

Mercado Hours: Mon-Sat 7a-9p    Sun 7a-8p
Links: El Burrito Website * El Burrito Mercado on FacebookGoogle Map



Atmosphere: El Burrito is not only located within the heart of St Paul’s Westside “District del Sol”, but is arguably the “Heart” itself.  El Burrito Mercado is the place to go for anything you would need for preparing Mexican Cuisine and located within is also a wonderful little restaurant.

The Express Restaurant is open all day and offers counter service.  This is where you must order breakfast and lunch.

There are a couple of tables in the seating areas near the service line, if you’d like to take in the action of the Mercado around you, otherwise there is a great dining room tucked around the corner to the back.  The room is decorated more like a traditional Mexican restaurant with tiled floors, earth-colored walls and royal blue accents.  The walls are hung with Mexican artwork.  The Restaurant offers table service at dinner only.

There is a self-service bakery counter in the middle of the Mercado, near the restaurant.

El Burrito Mercado has just about anything you would find in a market in Mexico.  They have a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, a variety of Mexican cheeses, creams, chorizo, a big selection of meats and seafood, corn and flour tortillas, and a large selection of imported non-perishable groceries.  I discovered you can even buy mango flavored lollipops that are coated in chili! (However after trying one, I do NOT recommend)

Express Menu: Items are served with Mexican or Cilantro Rice, Frijoles Ranchera, Fried Pinto Beans or Fried Black Beans.  Includes Burrito Original (filled with choice of meat, beans, rice and cheese), Burrito Ahogado (burrito smothered in sauce and cheese then baked), Burro Gigante (2 ft burrito!), Tamal en Hoja Platano, Tamales, Milanesa (thin chicken or steak breaded and fried), Torta Minnesota, Torta Mexico, Quesadilla, Tacos, Nachos Supremos.

Meat choices include Puerco en Verde, Barbacoa (shredded beef), Birria (shredded beef in spice and chile), Carnitas (shredded pork), Pollo Mexicano, Pechuga de Pollo, Carne Asada (marinated steak), and Cecina (thin, cured steak).

Restaurant Dinner Menu: Appetizers include Chips & Salsa, Chipotle Chicken Wings, Chicken Flautas, Quesadilla, Fiesta Chicharron, Chips with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, Molletas (bread with beans and cheese), and Queso Fundidio (melted Mexican cheeses).

Salads include Nopalitos (sliced cactus, onion, tomato, cilantro and jalapeno vinaigrette), Verde con Cilantro Aderezo (romaine with cilantro vinaigrette), Chicaharron (pork rinds on top), and Caesar Salad.

Entree Specials that are made with Masa (corn) include Gorditas (small thick tortilla made with corn dough), Quesadillas made with Corn dough (and choice of meat), Huarache (corn dough fried and topped with beans and choice of meat) and Sopes (corn dough fried and topped with meat).

Beef Entrees include Carne a la Tampiquena, Carne Asada, Molcajete de Carnes Mixtas (steak, chicken, pork, carnitas, cactus, chorizo), Bistec Mexicano, Puntas de Bistec, Lomo Salteado, and Sizzling Fajitas.

Pork Entrees include Chuleta de Puerco Relleno, Carnitas en Comal, and Cochnito Pibil (slow roasted pork served in a banana leaf).

Chicken Entrees include Enchiladas, Chicken Mole, Pechuga de Pollo en Crema Poblana and Fajitas Tropical en Molcajete.

Vegetarian Entrees include Roasted Chili Poblano, Beans & Cheese Tamales and Vegetable Fajitas.

Fish & Seafood Entrees include Pescado en Hoja Platano (tilapia served in plantain leaf), Pescado Empanizado, Tilapia Veracruzana, Camarones a la Diabla (shrimp in spicy sauce), Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (shrimp in garlic butter), Camarones a la Mexicana, Camarones Envuelto en Tocino Relleno de Queso y Chipotle (shrimp filled with cheese and wrapped with bacon), Tacos de Camron y Queso, Coctel de Camaron, Ceviche de Camaron (lime cured shrimp mixed with pico de gallo), and Ceviche de Aquachile.

All items on express menu can also be ordered from Dinner Menu.

Dessert items at El Burrito include Tres Leches Cake, Mango Cheesecake, Chili Powder and Chocolate Flourless Cake, Flan, Homemade Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Gelatina, and Chocolate Cinnamon Cheesecake.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-7 Salads $4-5  Masa $7  Meat Entrees $8-10  Seafood & Fish $11  Desserts $4-5  Express Restaurant Entrees $7
What we ordered: I was really at a loss of how to order, so I went with the Barbacoa Plate with a side of corn tortillas(3).  I was given a very generous heaping pile of tender, shredded beef which I wanted to make tacos with.  There was enough to make 5 or 6 tacos! The plate comes standard with lettuce and tomato but I also asked for cilantro and onions, and shredded cheese.  The meat was really good and the rice and beans were decent (good but nothing too special, kind of on the boring-side).  The corn tortillas were small, hot and fresh.  I liked that they has a salsa bar and tried both green and red.  I liked both but the red just wasn’t spicy enough for me (I like HOT), the green was slightly more spicy.

My companion ordered a Quesadilla con Carnitas, which came with a generous serving of beans and rice.  The Quesadilla was made with a couple of large flour tortillas, grilled to a bubbly, golden brown and filled with melted Mexican cheeses and tender shredded pork.  Lettuce and chopped tomatoes were served on top.


Service: The line at the restaurant was fairly long at lunch time, but moved very quickly.  I basically told them what I wanted and they prepared my order in front of me within minutes.  Depending on what you order, some foods like quesadillas and enchiladas take a little longer to prepare.  There was a self-service salsa bar and drink station at the end of the line.  When we finished our meals we weren’t sure if we were supposed to bus our own trays or not but they did have a couple of servers who came and bussed our table for us.  The restaurant offers table-service only at dinner.
Overall Impression: I thought the food was pretty good and reasonably priced but the atmosphere was what made the visit memorable.  It is enjoyable to browse around the market and purchase items that you would not find at your local Cub or Rainbow stores.  El Burrito is Mexican-Cooking Heaven!! I look forward to warmer seasons and the Corn Roast they have outside El Burrito on the weekends. I also want to go back to the Restaurant for dinner and order off the menu! Live Music on weekend evenings!
El Burrito Mercado on Urbanspoon

Dec 272009
 

Cuisine: Mexican, Kids Menu
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Catering, Happy Hour Specials, On-Site Parking,
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1754 Lexington Ave North St Paul, MN, 55113 (651) 487-2847
Hours: Kitchen: 11a-Midnight  Bar : 11a-2a

Links: Ol’ Mexico Website Google Map

Olmexico-outside

Atmosphere: Located just off Hwy 36 in Roseville, Ol’ Mexico is easy to get to from either Mpls or St Paul.  Ol’ Mexico has been open since 1979 and is an enchanting restaurant that is quite reminiscent of its namesake.  The restaurant itself is quite large with many different seating areas, the center if which is a beautiful indoor courtyard complete with a fountain at its center.

Olmexico-courtyard

In the areas surrounding the central courtyard there are two tiers of additional seating.  The lower level has large round tables within semi-private alcoves that are perfect for parties of eight. The lighting is dim and romantic throughout the entire restaurant.

Olmexico-inside

Ol’ Mexico also has a large open bar area with great Happy Hour drink specials and a taco bar every Friday.  There is also Karaoke ever Thursday night from 9p-1a and nightly Buzztime Interactive Trivia.  There are also several HD TVs that play local games and ALL NFL Football games, as well as Nascar races.

Olmexico-bar

The Bar also has a Dining area with tables to seat around fifty or so.  The lighting is just as dim as the rest of the restaurant but it just doesn’t have the same ambiance as the more formal dining room.

Olmexico-barseating

Menu: Appetizers at Ol’ Mexico include Nachos, Black Ben Nachos, Fresh Guacamole & Chips, Shrimp Cocktail, Mexi Wings, Chile Verde with Flour Crisps, Taquitos and Chile con Queso.

Salads offered are the Taco Salad, Tostada Salad, Grilled Chicken with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, Caesar, Santa Fe Chopped Salad, and Dinner Salad.

Ol’ Mexico has a “Eating Fit” menu as well that includes Spinach Salad (with chicken or salmon), Grilled Marinated Salmon with Steamed Asparagus, Grilled Chicken Breast with Steamed Vegetables, and Lettuce Burger Wrap.

Burgers and sandwiches at Ol’ Mexico are Cheeseburger, BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger, Mexican Sandwich and Veggie Sandwich.

Entrees include Four Cheese Quesadilla, Steak or Chicken Fajita Quesadilla, Pocket Taco Enchilada Style, Pocket Taco Platter, Chimichangas (choice of ground beef, ground chicken, spicy seafood, shredded beef and bbq beef), Sizzling Fajita Platter, Southwestern Spicy Seafood Enchiladas, Diablo Shrimp tacos, Pollo Fundido, Grande Burro, Macho Burro, Fajita Burro, Bean & Veggie Burrito.

There are number of combination Mexican dinners and you can also create your own combo.

Grilled Entrees include 14 ox t-Bone Steak, Fresh Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa, Fresh Grilled Tilapia covered in Jumbo Shrimp, Grilled steak, Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetable Skewers.

Desserts at Ol’ Mexico include Mexican Fried Ice Cream, Brownie Sundae, Fresh Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake, Fresh Fruit Plate, and Fresh Strawberry and Banana with sweet cream, walnuts, raisins and coconut.

Kids Menu includes Chicken Strips, Chhese Melts, Taco, Mexi Dog and Hamburger.

Price guide: Appetizers $4-8  Salads $9-13  Sandwiches $10  Entrees $10-16   Grilled Entrees $15-17  Desserts $ 7-8  Kids Menu $5

What I ordered: My visit to Ol’ Mexico was during Happy Hour so I took advantage of the 2-for-1 special and ordered peach margaritas.  These are so amazing!!! They are the best peach margaritas I have had anywhere.  They use some sort of fruit syrup for all of their fruit margaritas (other choices include strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, wild berry, blue raspberry, pomegranate, banana, melon) and they are packed with tartness and flavor.  The chips were also very good, warm and freshly fried to a crispy golden brown.  I am not sure if my taste buds were off on this visit, but I did not care for the salsa as it tasted way too salty and not very spicy.  The chips and the margaritas made up for the salsa though!

Olmexico-chipssalsamargaritas
For dinner I made my own combo with a Chile Relleno, a Cheese Enchilada and Mexican Rice.  This was a great choice! The Chile Relleno was stuffed with shredded beef and cheddar cheese then breaded and fried and baked with cheese on top.  The beef was tender and was seasoned to give it a lot of flavor, especially when paired with the spice of the pepper.  The enchilada was stuffed with cheddar and topped with enchilada sauce and even more melted cheese.  Rice was decent.

Olmexico-chilerellenoenchiladarice

My companion had the build your own combo as well, with ground beef hard corn taco and ground beef enchilada.  The ground beef was only slightly seasoned and very boring, and had several pieces of onion mixed in with it.  Would rather have had the shredded beef than the ground beef.  The beans were good.

Olmexico-tacobeans

Service: My companion and I met at Ol’ Mexico around 3:30 on a snowy Tuesday afternoon and the happy hour crowd was only just beginning to arrive.   We were seated in the bar area although had we been given the option, I would have preferred any of the tables in the courtyard or formal dining room.  Our server was nice and was great about letting us know that the Happy Hour specials included 2-for-1s on all their drinks.  Food came really fast.
Overall Impression: Ol’ Mexico is one of the few restaurants I ate at while growing up and it was always considered my family’s “favorite” Mexican restaurant in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the past decade I have come to eat better Mexican food at other restaurants, but I still love the charm and atmosphere of Ol’ Mexico in Roseville.  The fruity margaritas are so good and the 2-for-1 happy hour drink specials are a pretty good deal.
Ol' Mexico on Urbanspoon

May 022009
 

Cuisine: Mexican
Restaurant Features: Bar, Patio, On-Site Parking,
Location: South St Paul, MN
Address: 600 S. Concord St. South St Paul, MN 55075 (651)455-6109
Hours: M-F 11am-7:30pm  Sat-Sun 9am-?
Links: Google Map

LaEsperanza-outside1000
Atmosphere: La Esperanza is located on So. Concord St (Hwy 156), which runs along the Mississippi River. The building itself is not very big, but they do have a very nice, open dining room with festive decorations throughout.

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The bar faces the Mississippi river and there are picture windows overlooking the island.  Here is the breath-taking view out of the bar windows.

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There is also a patio area in the back looking down on the Mississippi.  This picture was taken before they had put out the umbrellas.

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Menu: Breakfast is served Saturday and Sunday and includes Huevos Rancheros, Huevos con Chorizo, Huevos Divorciados, Machaca con Huevos, Huevos ala Mexicana, New Mexico Enchiladas, 5-8Camaron Rancheros, Jamon, Queso con Chile.

Soups include Beef Caldo, Chicken Caldo, or Menudo.

Fried Tacos include Beef or Chicken.  Tostadas can be ordered with beef, chicken or chorizo.  Quesadillas include bean & cheese, chicken, or shredded beef.  Flautas come with either beef or chicken.  Enchilada plates come with either cheese & onion, chicken or beef.

Entrees are served with rice and beans and include Puerco con Chile Verde, Puerco con Chile Rojo, Carne Asada, Steak Picado, and Diced Chicken.

Price guide: Breakfast $5-8  Tacos $4.50-5.50/2  Entrees $7-10
What I ordered: Since each order of enchiladas comes with 3, I had hoped I could try one of each variety however they don’t allow substitutions.  I decided on the Chicken Enchiladas and they were wonderful! The enchiladas had large pieces of tender white meat chicken and just a hint of melted Mexican cheese, with a generous amount of the delicious spicy green chile enchilada sauce rolled into corn tortillas.  Very flavorful! A bowl of the green chile was also served on the side.  The enchiladas came with beans and rice, both of which had a nice texture but were very mild in taste.  I spiced mine up with the chile and it was awesome like that!

LaEsperanza-chickenenchiladas1000
Service: I was very surprised that on a nice Friday afternoon at lunchtime that the restaurant wasn’t very busy.  I pretty much had my pick of tables and chose to sit at the bar where I could enjoy the gorgeous view of the Mississippi.  I ordered after asking for suggestions and was told everything was good.  My food was prepared reaonably fast.
Overall Impression: Could this place with really good Mexican food and a cool view of the Mississippi still be undiscovered?  I encourage you to make a visit La Esperanza, especially if you’re near St Paul. Only a 5 minute drive from District del Sol.  Going to have live mariachi bands all weekend during Cinco de Mayo!!
La Esperanza on Urbanspoon

Mar 282009
 

Cuisine: Authentic Mexican

Restaurant Features: Bar (Beer), Counter Service

Location: St Paul, MN

Addresses & Maps:

St Paul– 927 Payne Ave St Paul, MN 55130 (651) 776-6300

Sister Restaurants:

La Loma Coffee Shop– 1515 E. Lake Street Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 728-5437

La Loma Tamales, Minneapolis– Midtown Global Market ( Lake St & 10th Ave).  Serves Breakfast, Tamales and Fruit Smoothies

Hours: Daily 8am-8pm

Links: La Loma Website

LaLoma-outside1000

Atmosphere: The St Paul location of La Loma restaurant is located within the Plaza Latina on Payne Ave.  The restaurant’s space is big and open, with great natural lighting from all the windows.  There is a large counter for customers to place food order, and several small round tables throughout the restaurant, seating around 30-40.

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Attached to the restaurant in the back is a store that sells a variety of Mexican Imports (mostly clothes).

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Menu: Breakfast Items include Huevos Ranchers, Huevos ala Mexicana, Huevos con Chorizo, Huevos con Jamon (ham), and Huevos con Salchicha (breakfast sausage).

Tamales are what La Loma is known for.  Chicken, Pork, Vegetarian, Sweet Corn or Oazaque ño.

Tacos are served on double corn tortillas with cilantro and onions and choice of meats: Pollo (chicken), Asada (steak), Chicharon (pork rinds), Pastor (marinated pork), Lengua (tongue), Chorizo (Mexican sausage), Cecinas (smoked meat), Carnitas (pork), Tripe (stomach).

Tortas (sandwiches) options include Pollo, Milanesa (breaded steak), Cecina, Hawaiian, Chorizo and the Cubano.

Chilaquiles choices include Carne, Carne Y Huevos.  Enchiladas with choice of meat.

Entree Plates- Bistec con Queso, Burrito con Carne (choice of meat), Quesdailla, Tostada con Carne, Plato de Guisado (stew).

La Loma also has Menudo and Pozole de Puerco.

Price guide: Breakfast $3-4  Tamales & Tacos $2  Tortas $5-8  Entrees $6-9

What I ordered: For my lunch I ordered a Chicken Taco, Carnitas Taco, and Steak Enchilada.  The Chicken Taco had tender, bite-sized pieces of white meat chicken.  The meat was tender but didn’t have much flavor.  Served on double-layered mini corn tortillas and topped with cilantro and onions.  The salsa verde that was served on the side was on the mild side, so it only added a little more flavor.  Normally with an authentic taco you would not need to add these things, but I think the chicken tacos would be much tastier with cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole or a spicier chile.  The carnitas taco was much more flavorful than the chicken, but the shredded pork was somewhat dry and slightly fatty.  The Steak enchilada had lean strips of steak rolled in a corn tortilla and then covered in a tongue-tingling spicy green sauce, with shredded Mexican cheese on top.  It was good and would be even better with melted cheese inside.

LaLoma-tacosEnchilada1000

Service: The woman working the counter was very nice.  It took 5-10 minutes for my order to be ready, which I asked for To-Go.  It was slightly busy with a handful of customers filing in around noon.

Overall Impression: Prices are very reasonable, service is good.  I thought the food was decent but would like to try breakfast or dinner before truly recommending.

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Jan 112009
 

Cuisine: Authentic Mexican,

Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Locations: Burnsville, Eagan & Savage, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Burnsville– 2501 Horizon Drive (Cliff Road & 13th) Burnsville, MN 55337 (952) 808-0068

Eagan1428 Yankee Doodle Rd Eagan, MN 55121 (651) 405-8244

Savage– 4749 West Highway 13 Savage, MN 55378 (952)736-8307
Link: El Loro Website * El Loro on Facebook

ElLoro-outside1000

Atmosphere: The Burnsville location is quite large, with several small dining areas throughout the restaurant.  The parking lot wraps around the building and there are two entrances to the restaurant.  The decor is authentic Mexican, with large bright murals painted on the walls and a sombrero hung up here and there.  There are a mix of tables and booths, as well as a small bar area near the back entrance.  There also appeared to be a small patio area for use during warmer months.

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Menu: Appetizers include Nachos, Queso Fundido, Chicken Fingers, Jalapeno Poppers, and Guacamole.

Salads at El Loro include a couple of different Taco Salads, Tossed Salad, and Chicken Salad.

Special dinners (entrees) include Fajitas (Shrimp, Beef, Chicken, Seafood), Carne Asada, Steak Ranchero, Carnitas,teak a la Tampiquena, T-bone Steak, Burritos Mexicanos, Burritos Rancheros, Enchiladas Rojas, Enchiladas Verdes, Enchiladas Poblanas, Quesadilla Ranchera, Enchiladas Rancheras, Pollo Asado, Pollo Loro, Pollo Monterey, Pollo Veracruzano, Chori Pollo, Yolandas, Burritos Deluxe, Burrito Ruleta, Chilaquiles Mexicanos, Taquitos Mexicanos, Shrimp Quesadilla, Shrimp Chimichanga, Quesadillas Veracruzanas, Quesadilla Rellena, Chimichanga, Enchilada Suprema, Chile Colorado, Chile Verde, Combo Special, Special Dinner, Loro Loco, Seafood Enchilada, and Camaron a la Diabla.

There are several combination plates and smaller-portioned lunch specials at reduced prices.

Desserts include Tres Leches Cake, Sopapilla, Flan, Fried Ice Cream, Cheesecake, Churros, Bunuelos (puffy pieces of pastry covered with honey, butter, and chocolate sauce) and Xangos (cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla and fried that dusted with cinnamon and sugar).

Price guide: Appetizers $4-7 Salads $6-9 Lunch Specials $5-6 Special Dinners $9-14  Combination Plates $8-9
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary chips and salsa.  The chips were freshly made; warm, crispy, and lightly salted.  The salsa was slightly spicy and had great flavor, I especially liked the fresh cilantro.  We also were given a side of “Loro” house dressing, which was a thick, sweet and tangy ranch style sauce.  I also ordered the Texas Margarita, which I believe to be Jose Cuervo Gold and lime juice.  Very good but very strong!

ElLorro-chipssalsa1000 For my entree I ordered the Special Combo, which was a chicken chimichanga and a shredded beef taquito covered with nacho sauce and served with rice and beans.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Nacho sauce when I ordered, but it seemed to be made from melted Mexican cheese, spices and chile peppers and had a lot of flavor.  I thought it was pretty good.  The chicken in the chimichanga was shredded breast meat that was very tender and seemed to be of excellent quality, and the flour tortilla was fried to a nice crispy golden brown .  The beef taquito was also very good, made from a  fried corn tortilla. I also ordered a chicken enchilada a la carte, but substituted salsa verde for the enchilada sauce, which I think turned out to be an excellent idea! The chicken was great and the salsa was also very good.  Beans and rice were also both very good.  The consistency of the beans was on the thicker side, and the rice was flavorful and slightly dry (which I like!).

ElLoro-combospecial1000

ElLoro-chickenenchilada1000 One of my companions ordered the Special Dinner, which was a chicken burrito, shredded beef enchilada, beef taco, chile relleno, chalupa with guacamole salad, and rice & beans.  Everything was very good.  The chile relleno was a spicy poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and deep fried.  The enchilada sauce was okay, kind of sweet & tangy.

ElLoro-specialdinner1000 Another companion ordered the Carnitas Dinner, which was delicious! The hefty portion of pork was very tender and moist and came with three flour tortillas, guacamole salad and rice & beans.  There was definitely enough meat to make several tacos, but I think corn tortillas would have been better with the carnitas (more authentic!).

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Service: Our party of four arrived at El Loro on a very busy Friday night when all but one table near the door were already taken.  I was disappointed we did not get a booth, but we were hungry and did not want to wait for one to open up, so we sat at probably the worst table in the place (which wasn’t really too bad).   Food and drinks arrived in a decent amount of time considering how busy the restaurant was.  One thing I noticed was that all of the servers in the restaurant were Latino Males.
Overall Impression: Very good, authentic Mexican food at reasonable prices.
El Loro on Urbanspoon