If you want to eat where your favorite chef hangs out, I hear the place to go is Isaac Becker’s 112 Eatery. But if you want to eat where the guy who actually cooked your restaurant meal goes when he dines out, you might want to head to Cocina Latina, the new mostly Ecuadorian restaurant that replaced Tacos Blass at 38th and Nicollet Ave. S. There are a lot of Ecuadorian immigrants in the local restaurant workforce, and in the last few years, a number of Ecuadorian restaurants have opened – including La Bahia, Los Andes, Guayaquil, Chimborazo, and now Cocina Latina.
This plate, the Bandeja Latina ($12.99) seems to be pretty typical: a grilled cut of sirloin accompanied by spicy chorizo sausage, chicharron (fried pork fatback), stewed beans,rice, fried plantain, a fried egg, guacamole and a Colombian arepa. The menu offers a lot of other variations on this theme – various cuts of beef with rice or fries, yuca and plantain, but for the more adventuresome, there’s chaulafan ($11.99), the South American interpretation of Chinese fried rice; and several traditional Ecuadorian chivos – stews made with chicken, goat or guatito – beef tripe in a peanut sauce ($9.99).
Cocina Latina, 3764 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. (612) 354-2971.