I’d driven past La Poblanita, 1617-23 E. Lake St., for years, but I dined there for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been back twice since. The two addresses are actually two businesses – a restaurant at the corner, and a tortilleria next door, which houses a small tortilla factory, meat market, and grocery store.
They make their own tortillas from scratch, first cooking the corn, then grinding it into masa, which may explain why the restaurant menu offers so many different kinds of street food based on masa. Some of these are familiar – like the tacos and tostadas, but others are more unusual – like the tlacoyos, gorditas, and huaraches (“sandals”). These are mostly variations on a theme – fat cakes of masa, stuffed or topped with beans or cheese or meat. They’re cheap, filling, and very tasty.
The clientele seems to be almost entirely Latino, which is usually a good sign, and the big screen TV seems to be permanently tuned to Univision, the Spanish language network.
I’ve sampled about half a dozen menu items so far, including the chiles rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, battered and deep-fried) and the camarones al ajillo (shrimp sautéed with mild dried peppers and staggering amounts of garlic) – much milder than it looks, but very tasty. The pozole rojo, a hearty pork and hominy soup in a red chile pepper broth was spicy but not overpowering, and was served with two tostadas on the side, which made it an ample meal.
I’d like to go back with a bigger group and try some of their charolas (platters) that serve three to five people ($36-$38), topped with various combinations of chicken, pork chops, quesadillas, rice and beans, or else one of the parilladas (table-top grills) — either the meat version, with chicken, pork and beef ($24, serves three) or the seafood version ($36), piled high with shrimp, tilapia, crab legs, and more.
Best time for a visit might be on a Friday evening, when La Poblanita hosts a karaoke contest, with cash prizes.
Tortilleria, Taqueria & Carneceria La Poblanita, 1617 – 1623 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-728-0383.