At La Chaya, a former Kentucky Fried Chicken (or so I am told) at 4537 Nicollet Ave.S. has been transformed into a rather romantic bisto, with earthtones and open kitchen. Mediterranean flavors predominate, but the Mexican influence is in evidence in a variety of dishes, from the thick black bean soup of the day and the Mexican pizza (topped with refried beans, grilled chicken, chorizo and too many jalapeno peppers, $13.95) to the entrees of halibut, offered either baked in banana leaves with achiote and sour orange, or topped with a pumpkin seed sauce, and served over mashed potatoes with poblano pepper (both $22). I only sampled a few dishes, but I was impressed with the halibut in achiote sauce, and liked the black bean soup a lot. On a return visit, I would like to try the garlic cilantro ribeye with green caper salsa, and some of the Italian dishes, such as the artichoke, onion and prosciutto pizza ($13.95) or the housemade black fettucine tossed with shrimp and cherry tomatoes ($14.50).
La Chaya Bistro, 4537 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-827-2254.