Top-75 Mexican Restaurants in Minneapolis – St. Paul

I recently took at look at what Mexican restaurants are most popular with Urbanspoon users in the Twin Cities to see what people seem to be enjoying these days. I’ve included the top-75 below.

Why 75? It turns out that the reality based, quisling community has 74 restaurants that they enjoy more than the first Mexican restaurant owned by Minnesota’s master of false outrage.

Rank

Rating

Restaurant

1

+100%

Midtown/Phillips
Latin American and Mexican

2

+100%

Eagan
Mexican

3

+100%

Midtown/Phillips
Tacos and Mexican

4

+95%

Buffalo
Mexican and American

5

+95%

West St Paul
Mexican

6

+95%

West St Paul
Tacos and Mexican

7

+94%

West 7th
Mexican

8

+94%

Shakopee
Tacos and Mexican

9

+94%

Apple Valley
Mexican

10

+94%

Oakdale
Mexican

11

+93%

Buffalo
Mexican

12

+93%

Midtown/Phillips
Mexican

13

+93%

St Anthony
Mexican

14

+93%

Anoka/Andover
Mexican

15

+93%

Downtown Minneapolis
Mexican and Tacos

16

+93%

Plymouth
Tacos and Mexican

17

+93%

West St Paul
Mexican

18

+92%

Southwest Minneapolis
Mexican

19

+92%

Crystal
Mexican

20

+92%

Forest Lake
Mexican

21

+92%

Uptown
Tacos and Mexican

22

+92%

Shakopee
Mexican

23

+91%

Richfield
Tacos and Mexican

24

+90%

Robbinsdale
Mexican

25

+90%

Champlin
Tex-Mex and Mexican

26

+90%

West St Paul
Mexican

27

+90%

Chanhassen
Mexican and Fast Food

28

+90%

Roseville
Mexican

29

+90%

Northeast Minneapolis
Tacos, Mexican and Vegetarian

30

+90%

Eden Prairie
Mexican

31

+90%

Northeast Minneapolis
Mexican

32

+90%

South Minneapolis
Mexican

33

+89%

Southwest Minneapolis
Latin American and Mexican

34

+89%

White Bear Lake
Mexican

35

+89%

Burnsville
Mexican

36

+89%

Crystal
Mexican

37

+89%

Chanhassen
Mexican

38

+89%

West Side
Mexican and Southwestern

39

+88%

Blaine
Mexican

40

+88%

Bayport
Mexican

41

+88%

Cottage Grove
Mexican

42

+88%

Scandia
Mexican

43

+88%

Plymouth
Mexican

44

+88%

Champlin
Mexican

45

+88%

Richfield
Mexican

46

+88%

Eat Street
Mexican

47

+88%

Richfield
Mexican

48

+87%

Southwest Minneapolis
Mexican and Seafood

49

+87%

West Side
Mexican, Southwestern and Sandwiches/Subs

50

+87%

Downtown Minneapolis
Fast Food and Mexican

51

+87%

Downtown Minneapolis
Mexican

52

+87%

Savage
Mexican

53

+87%

Northfield
Mexican

54

+86%

Maple Grove/Osseo
Mexican

55

+86%

Southwest Minneapolis
Mexican, Italian and Pizza

56

+86%

Prior Lake
Mexican, American and Pub Food

57

+86%

Downtown Minneapolis
Mexican, Southwestern and International

58

+86%

Loring Park
Mexican

59

+85%

Merriam Park/Highland Park
Mexican

60

+85%

White Bear Lake
American, Burgers and Mexican

61

+85%

Eagan
Mexican

62

+85%

Burnsville
Mexican

63

+85%

St Louis Park
Mexican

64

+85%

Lakeville
Mexican

65

+85%

Apple Valley
Mexican

66

+85%

Midtown/Phillips
Southwestern, Mexican and Sandwiches/Subs

67

+84%

Blaine
Mexican

68

+84%

Shakopee
Mexican

69

+84%

Blaine
Mexican

70

+84%

White Bear Lake
Mexican

71

+84%

West St Paul
Mexican

72

+84%

Chaska
Mexican

73

+83%

Columbia Heights
Mexican

74

+83%

Coon Rapids
Mexican

75

+83%

Inver Grove Heights
Mexican and Southwestern

My personal recommendation: Check out Lake Street in Minneapolis. From Uptown to the Mississippi River, there are a ton of authentic, delicious, Mexican restaurants that kick some serious butt.

A Coffee Shop Printing Service

Coffee Shop Printer

Maybe this exists everywhere already, but it’s new to me. A coffee shop in Toronto had a printer available for printing by WiFi users. The printer lists a URL where customers can upload their files. They’re sent from the website to the printer in the coffee shop for fulfillment. The quantity of prints and credit card transaction is handled on the website.

This does seem to have the potential to take coffee shop officing to a new level. A shot across the bow of Kinko’s?

The Minnehaha Park Dairy Queen is Gone . . . For Now?

Leveled Dairy Queen at Minnehaha Parkway

The Dairy Queen at 4740 Minnehaha Avenue is definitely gone. As I understand it, they plan to rebuild a new larger location at the same spot. Stotko Speedling Contruction, who’s sign is posted on the site, previously built a DQ at 50th & Drew.

There was quite a bit of debate a couple years ago regarding whether the new DQ should include a drive-thru. I don’t believe that was approved while a Caribou at Minnehaha Parkway and Cedar Ave S did receive drive-thru approval.

SUVs at Caribou with Sprinklers Running in the Rain

I dodged some SUVs idling on Cedar Ave S waiting to pull into the driveway so they could block the sidewalk before idling their way through the drive thru. Caribou was also running their sprinklers in the rain to help maintain their strangely suburban landscape. I think The Ackerberg Group could have done a better job for the neighborhood than they did with this development.

First Post-Jail Meal: The Wienery

Jail Wristbands at The Wienery

What’s the first thing you’d want to eat after spending some time in the slammer? Clearly, a hot dog from The Wienery. Check out the wristbands above the counter.

While waiting for my bacon-wrapped Mexican style hot dog to arrive, I noticed that 1981 is a popular year of birth on the wristbands.

At 5’10”, 135, Mr. Strobel could probably use a few dogs.

Dairy Queen Invading Downtown Stillwater

Stillwater’s historic downtown is home to a large variety of locally owned antique stores, restaurants, and bars. That’s a big part of the appeal of making the trip out there from the more urban areas of the Twin Cities.

Which makes me wonder how the heck they approved this new Dairy Queen on Main Street:

Stillwater Dairy Queen

Generally, this sort of thing ends up along Highway 36 next to Buffalo Wild Wings, Herbergers, Target, and other common chains.

Starbucks had a run in downtown Stillwater but eventually pulled out.

Will the DQ make it? Or will people support Leo’s Malt Shop directly across the street?

How CityPages’ Ad Department is Gaming Their Restaurant Reviews

CityPages.com has integrated a relatively new feature called LikeMe where, as the name implies, they attempt to create venue recommendations for places to eat, drink, and do things based on what people “LikeMe” do. In theory, it’s a great idea for a restaurant review website or website feature.

However, here are a few things you may want to know about this particular offering from CityPages and Village Voice Media before signing up:

1. The community isn’t much of a community at this point, and without more users it doesn’t seem to be capable of making decent recommendations. That’s based on my assessment of the site’s quality during my short use of it.

2. It claims to have a database of 4,000,000 restaurants nationwide, although the directory feels much less comprehensive based on how the information is organized.

3. The kicker: A HUGE portion of the site’s reviews are written by people working in the advertising department at CityPages.

While the folks who work in ad sales are probably really (MN) nice people, what type of reviews would you expect to get from people who have a financial relationship with the businesses they’re reviewing? Exactly. Not only are constructive, occasionally negative reviews few and far between, the positive reviews seemed hedged since they don’t dare play favorites among their clients. Talk about a no-win situation. Of course, it’s not only no-win for the sales people who’ve been instructed to write the reviews. CityPages’ visitors most likely don’t realize they’re reading reviews from venues being promoted by paper’s the ad department.

For example, LikeMe user, MaggieC2 is marketing coordinator Maggie Curran. She’s written eighteen enlightening reviews to date. Here are a few examples (note: these are her full reviews, not snippets):

Loring Pasta Bar: Very cool outside/inside restaurant. I like that.
Chipotle: I eat chipotle once a week. I always get the barbacoa (spicy beef). Delicious. Chipotle, chipotle, chipotle.
Bulldog: One now open in St. Paul!

“One now open in St. Paul . . . exclamation point?” Is that a review or a promotion? Is the place is Minneapolis so bad that she’s secretly telling us to check out the St. Paul location instead? I’m confused.

Here’s IreneP, CityPages sales manager, Irene Iacovou Peterson in action:

Fine Line: A local favorite for music.
JD Hoyt’s: A great place for a steak.

In 14 reviews, IreneP couldn’t find a single negative thing to say about anywhere in town. Universally positive. Granted, she didn’t write much of anything.

CityPages Sales Operations Manager, EmilyN, Emily Neumann, is wordy by comparison with one-paragraph long “reviews”:

Stellas: STEEELLLLAAAAAAA A Street Car Named Desire..need I say more! I mean…really as if the beer being on Tap doesn’t fulfull your urge to scream this line at every turn, Stella’s permits you to yell it out all night (Much to the dismay of your co-drinkers) but hey…after a few Oyster shots…you’re not going to care…cause everyone will be your STELLLLAAAA
Punch: Punch me drunk..silly and sideways. Gosh darn this is good pizza! Plus…an orange sign..it just makes you happy!
JD Hoyt’s: Smoky, Cajun Cahrcoal Grilled food, with the service and food of a Four Star Restaurant, but a atmosphere that makes you feel like your family. Try their Pork Chops, you’ll never find anything else like them!

We’re the kind of place you look for when you travel to a new city – a friendly , shining, non-corporate place that showcases all that is good about the city that it calls home, the kind of place your cab driver might take you if you ask for the best steak or pork chop in town. Great food, staff, service, wine list and special cocktails. Our award winning entrees are prepared on our custom designed 100% hardwood burning charcoal grill, searing your order to juicy perfection

That ambitious attempt at a second paragraph by EmilyN seems inconsistent with her previous writing. Why did she suddenly start spelling things correctly, without a ton of ellipsis, and switch to first person plural?

Maybe it’s because she ripped that content directly from the About page on JD Hoyt’s website? A quick check of that copy on Google shows:

JD Hoyt's Text Stolen by Emily

Yes, she’s actually plagiarizing her reviews using the website of the place she’s reviewing.

What we have have here is yet another case of Village Voice Media gaming online communities for financial gain. (Yes, this is bigger than just CityPages.) Jonah Spangenthal-Lee summarizes the situation nicely in previous coverage at The Stranger:

The majority of Likeme’s reviews—which appear on 12 VVM websites, next to editorial content about the businesses—are written by ad representatives for VVM. The reviews, which are exclusively positive, focus on businesses that advertise in VVM papers.

Not only are the reviews glowingly positive, poorly written, and sometimes plagiarized, there is no disclosure on the site that they’re coming not from people “LikeMe” but advertising staff. People visiting CityPages.com generally don’t fit that “LikeMe” profile.

Manipulating the Community in Practice

The homepage and the front of the restaurants section of CityPages.com include LikeMe.net widgets like this one where Pizza Luce is listed as one of their, “City Pages Reader Recommendations”:

Pizza Luce Recommendations

Presumably, venues featured here are getting a lot of buzz within the LikeMe.net community on CityPages.com.

Based on what is labeled as “reader recommendations,” people may click through to find out more about, say, Pizza Luce. On CityPages’ Pizza Luce page, you’ll find this widget from LikeMe.net:

Pizza Luce Recommendations

Who are these three enthusiastic reviewers of Pizza Luce? They’re CityPages employees:

– Account Executive Katie Riddle (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)
– Account Executive Betsy Schrag (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)
– Graphic Designer Emily Utne (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)

Three for three on “Reader Recommendations” coming from people “LikeMe” who work for CityPages.

The “People who like Pizza Luce also like” portion of the widget should be changed to say, “People with a financial interest in Pizza Luce’s ad dollars also have a financial interest in the following companies’ ad dollars.”

Other people in the box of six “Readers” who like Pizza Luce include:

– Advertising Director, Jeff Hunsaker (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)
– Marketing Manager Holly Hunt (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)
– Village Voice Media’s Corporate Administrator Heather Dobbins* (who likes Pizza Luce’s money)
– Classifieds coordinator Tracie Garcia (who likes Pizza Luce’s money).

That’s seven out of seven “people LikeMe” who all have a financial interest in making Pizza Luce look good by promoting advertiser’s venues.

CityPages is pissing away the trust of their users by handing over control of their restaurant reviews to their advertising department. It’s a sad state of affairs because the site has historically done a nice job with restaurant reviews.

How to Fix This

1. If they participate, clearly label Village Voice Media and CityPages employees on the site. (But think twice about whether that’s a good idea).

2. How about having the food writers do the writing? They’re good at that sort of thing.

Hopefully, by taking a big step back, providing better disclosure, and doing a clean-up of the current content can turn this feature around from something manipulative to something valuable for CityPages.com’s readers.

The Craftsman for Pre-V-Day

Carly and I hit The Craftsman last night for an excellent dinner only blocks from our house on East Lake St.

We started with the charcuterie plate. Starting on the right going clockwise that’s rabbit, pig, pig, pig, duck liver.

Meat Platter

Carly went with the butternut squash pasta (delicious):

Veggie Pasta

I rocked the rack of lamb (perfectly prepared and the kale was excellent too):

Rack of Lamb

And the Boca Negra was incredible:

Boca Negra

They have Rush River BubbleJack on tap, so I tapped that. Overall, it was an excellent meal, as usual. It was also great to see that the place was packed. I’ve wondered at times whether this was a bit too high end for the neighborhood. It’s certainly not cheap but it’s not overpriced for the quality of food (much is locally sourced, grass fed, etc.). I hope this is a sign of a flight to quality at times when money is tighter. Go out less, but go to better places when you do go out.

More info from/at Urban Spoon:
Craftsman on Urbanspoon

Sambusas at 1st Cup Cafe

This is my new favorite munchie in Longfellow. Sambusas at 1st Cup Cafe:

Sambusa at 1st Cup Cafe

It’s a pastry . . . with meat! Love it. Kind of a Somali version of an empanada.

They come in two kinds: Meat & Fish.

1st Cup Cafe is located at 2740 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis, MN, which puts it between Cub & Target in the mixed retail/housing development in the north end of that lot.

They also make a great chai, have Orange Crush (harder to find with Clicquot gone), free WiFi, a meeting room for community events, and a large projection TV.

I imagine this is Longfellow’s largest East African hangout coffee shop. The menu and clientele reflect that. For me, it’s a new experience I’m really digging.

1st Cup Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday Was Fry-Day

My friend Kyle was off fries for all of 2008, so come 2009 he decided he needed to do something significant to celebrate that milestone. (It should be noted that Kyle did lick a fry at Matt’s one night, and still ate tots.)

This led to Fry-Day, which was originally scheduled for a Friday but later moved to a Saturday, causing somewhat intentional confusion when people would say, “Fry-Day is on Saturday.”

What was Fry-Day? A bike tour to some of the Twin Cities’ finest French Fries. Participants were Kyle, Brian Shekleton, and myself. Others participated in parts of the tour, although only the three of us biked and hit all the stops. (Click here for Brian’s report.)

Where we went:

Stop 1: Longfellow Grill for Sweet Potato Fries:

Sweet Potato Fries

I also got some regular fries with my turkey burger (delicious as usual).

Turkey Burger with Fries

Then we hit the bikes:

Biking on Hamline

And headed to The Nook in St Paul for hand-cut fries with Jucy Lucy’s.

Paul Molitor with Onions + Fries

I had the Paul Molitor, which is the Lucy with pepper jack:

Inside Paul Molitor

From there, we went to the Bulldog in Lowertown where I sampled their Hoppy Flight:

Hoppy Flight

Followed by Cajun Fries paired with tots:

Bulldog Fries & Tots

The sun set as we were leaving the Bulldog, and our bike seats were glazed over from freezing rain. Here are Brian and Kyle waiting for a light at Como & Dale:

Brian & Kyle

We ended up at Maxwell’s for their delicious waffle fries. While crossing the Mississippi, snapped this self-portrait:

Ed Iced Up

That was when my camera battery died from the cold.

Picking a winner at among the four stops and five styles of fries is not easy since the styles vary widely, hunger waxed and waned, and beer pairings may have altered my sensitive palate. With that in mind, I’m going with Maxwell’s waffle fries as my favorite simply because they tasted great at a time where I wouldn’t have expected any fries to be appetizing.

This appears to be the start of a new tradition.