Catalina's Mexican fare is fresh and easy on the wallet

Diverse menu items made from scratch

A handful of dishes, while still enjoyable, left less of a lasting impact. The fajitas were quite basic and would have been greatly improved with the addition of a little acid. The torta milanese, with very lightly breaded steak, pickled onions, sauteed bell peppers, and the reprise of the delectable crema on huge toasted roll, earned a very solid B, but paled in comparison to anything from Manny's Tortas. Catalina's has only two dessert options: rice with sweetened milk and cinnamon that you can get hot or cold, and flan. The flan that we are most used to seeing actually has Germanic roots and is more correctly categorized as creme caramel, a turned-out custard with a soft caramel top. It migrated to Spain, where it became ubiquitous, and finally turned up on Mexican and Latin American menus as a familiar finish to a feast. Catalina's version is served roughly chopped up in a tall sundae cup and has a craggy texture, which usually indicates it's been cooked too long, at too high a heat, or both. The flavors are sweet but not syrupy, with a tang of citrus that's more orange than lemon. The arroz con leche had a definite comfort factor, but after a few bites it became cloyingly sweet and too reminiscent of a child's leftover Cream of Wheat for me to enjoy as a decadent end to a meal.

E. Katie Holm

Location Info


Catalina's Restaurant

2301 37th Ave. NE
Columbia Heights, MN 55421

Category: Restaurant > Latin American

Region: Columbia Heights


Menu items $5-$13

Because of Catalina's very laid-back but still friendly and accommodating approach to dining, the service may not be terribly consistent from visit to visit. But Catalina's offers incredible value for your money, a diverse menu where everything is made from scratch, and, if you step just a little outside your comfort zone, more than a few of the good kind of surprises.

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