Thanks to all who responded to my post about Mpls-St. Paul Magazine's ridiculous readers poll -- and in particular, the Mexican restaurant "rankings." I've noted all your suggestions and will try them.
Among the suggestions was Guayaquil, an Ecuadoran restaurant at Chicago & Lake. My wife and I ventured there last night; I thought I'd offer a quick review, since I doubt you'll be seeing it listed in the magazine's poll anytime soon.
We were offered a very large basket of chips (fresly fried, not very salty at all) and a too-tiny plastic thing of green salsa. Had some fried plantains and goat cheese as an appetizer -- very nicely done, a neat combo, for 3 bucks. They could double the price and sell thousands at the State Fair.
I had fried trout, and my wife had a fish-and-yucca soup. As usual, she ordered better than I did. The soup was flavorful and intriguing, with tomatoes, cilantro, and some other stuff. She couldn't finish it all and had enough to take home.
My trout was good, but nothing flashy. It came with some rice and beans -- all very basic, but satisfying too. I felt great after dinner, which is more than I could say after I had a Whopper earlier in the week (what was I thinking? doy!).
This was the first "head-still-on" fish I've ever had in the Twin Cities (or maybe in the United States, come to think on it), so things are looking up.
We washed it all down with a couple "Pilsener" Ecuadoran beers -- served in bottles, with limes, and with nicely chilled glasses.
The bill: $38, which included a 20 percent tip. The service was attentive. Our table server was pleasant, welcoming, and spoke English well.
One question: Is it considered rude among Ecuadoran restaurateurs (or Mexicans, for that matter) to bring the bill by the table, or at least to ask whether you want it? Seems as if I need to track down the bill at many Mexican restaurants -- not a big deal, but I'm just curious. In Italy you need to ask for the bill. Same thing on Lake Street these days?
We'll go back to Guayaquil. And next time, I'll order something a little edgier.