As its name suggests, Capital View Café & Catering showcases a magnificent view of the Minnesota State Capitol building, but it's really the Mexican and American cuisine that keeps regulars coming back. The Ramirez and Lucken family brought the restaurant to life in 1993, after a family friend had tipped them off about a small café full of untapped potential that was in need of new owners. The family relied on many years of experience in the restaurant business to open a friendly neighborhood diner specializing in housemade breakfasts and lunches and generous portions. Capital View Café's breakfast menu includes both American and Mexican mainstays, and the lunch menu ranges from salads, soups, and sandwiches to authentic Mexican lunches. Their Mexican lunch roster catalogs burritos, fajitas, and the chipotle red pork dish, served in a zesty chipotle sauce alongside a stack of warm tortillas, a tastier stack of hot disks than frisbees toasting over a camp fire.
Not long after El Nuevo Rodeo Restaurant opened in 2003, its made-from-scratch Mexican dishes and vibrant late-night atmosphere began to make the lively eatery a hotspot with locals. The restaurant rapidly began expanding its authentic Mexican menu with regional culinary offerings such as pineapple-chipotle margaritas and guacamole appetizers handmade at your table in a lava-rock molcajete. Using handmade tortillas, tamales, and sauces, chefs whip up seasonal specials designed to complement selections from the curated wine and tequila menus.
Beneath the little brown awning scrawled with bright yellow letters, signs plaster the front windows of La Cabana, declaring in bold white and green the availability of tortas, cervesas, and various daily specials. Behind this wall of glass and menu, the staff and family who keep La Cabana running sear pork, beef, and seafood atop their grill, filling tortillas and pastries with the saucy flavors. They keep Mexican beers on hand, in addition to the standard margaritas, to wash down helpings of carne asada or fresh ceviche. Often fueled by a few libations, guests can belt out their favorite tunes during Saturday and Sunday karaoke.
El Taquito Taco Shop has a full menu of Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites, but the house specialty is tacos. To create the Mexican staple, chefs fill soft-shell corn or flour tortillas with shredded beef, fried pork, or spicy chorizo and then sprinkle each with chopped cilantro and raw onions. The taqueria’s tacos are a favorite among diners and even earned a shout-out in Gnaw Blog, a food blog that reviews small, non-chain restaurants in the Twin Cities. On Friday and Saturday nights, El Taquito stays open until 3 a.m. to satisfy late-night cravings and partygoers itching for a food fight.
The familial cooking tradition is strong at Taqueria Los Paisanos, where owner Alinda Suarez uses recipes she learned from her mother and grandmother to create a menu of Mexican favorites. Although the eatery serves staples, such as tortas, quesadillas, and tamales, its specialty is the taco, and diners can dig into al pastor and carnitas varieties. For liquid nourishment, the taqueria serves horchata and jamaica made from scratch, bottled beers, and Jarritos?Mexican soda infused with fruit flavors, such as mandarin, lime, and snozzberry.
The signature item at Zantigo is the chilito, a hand-stretched tortilla filled with chili and shredded cheese?a simple savory that packs a big punch. In addition to the chilito, a menu of authentic Mexican favorites includes tacos and hearty burritos made with pork, chicken, or steak, all crafted to order.