OK, I usually consider the Mpls St. Paul Magazine's "Best Restaurants Readers Poll" to be as satisfying as a Taco Bell burrito snagged at the drive-thru. Each year, I dismiss it as worthless. But the most recent list of readers' favorite Mexican restaurants left me absolutely steaming. In case you missed it: (1) Pepitos, (2) La Cucaracha, (3) Don Pablo's, (4) Boca Chica, (5) Chipotle.
Are they serious? In a metro area with great Mexicans and ever-better Mexican food, HOW can readers rank these as favorites? I mean, I've eaten at all five, and while I can tolerate the food at Pepitos and the drinks at Boca Chica, the rest are, in my humble opinion, horrifying.
I channeled my frustration last weekend and headed to Salsa a la Salsa, a relatively new place at 14th and Nicollet that was recommended to me recently. It was tremendous. The three-enchilada "sampler" (red salsa, green salsa, mole ...) was the best I've had in the Twin Cities. Unlike enchiladas I've had at the magazine readers' "favorites," my enchildadas weren't weren't dripping with icky cheese. Everything was fresh and tasty. The side of beans weren't out of a can. The tempura vegetables were innovative. My wife's fish burrito (not my favorite menu item) was the best I've tasted. Before the entrees arrived, they delivered a tasty basket of chips and two salsas -- one green, another with chunky tomatos and onions, neither one steaming with spice. We each had a drink. The bill: $32, which included a better-than 20 percent tip.
My other favorites in town are Chiapas in Northeast Minneapolis and El Norteno on East Lake Street, near the St. Paul border, though they don't seem to be as good as they "used to be."
So I'm in search of more excellent Mexican food. What would you add to the Chowhound "Best of" Mexican list? Suggestions other than Lake Street and West Side establishments highly appreciated. Have car, will travel ...