BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT Minneapolis 2004 - Salsa a la Salsa
1420 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
You know that thing about computer speed, how it doubles every six months? So it is with Mexican restaurants in Minnesota. It seems that every six months the Mexican restaurants around here are twice as good, in twice as many ways, as they just, just were. We never had any Mexican places with breathtaking, and breathtakingly cheap stews and sauces, but now there's Pineda 2. We never had any cathedral-ceilinged Mexican places gorgeously decorated to look like outdoor piazzas, but now there's the big Me Gusta complex. And we've never had anything like Salsa a la Salsa, a Mexican restaurant that is both authentically, richly Mexican in its food and culture, and welcomingly, deeply gracious in its hospitality. Run by the Azria family, Salsa a la Salsa serves two kinds of dishes, ones that Lorenzo Azria grew up with, like the marvelous mixiotes de pollo, a banana leaf filled with chicken, avocado leaves, lots of herbs and spices, cactus-leaf spirits, and steamed till hauntingly vegetal and lush, and other dishes he perfected in 30 years of cooking in California and Minnesota kitchens, like heart-healthy grilled vegetables touched with achiote oil served with blackened salmon. While the food is very good at Salsa a la Salsa, the margaritas cold, and the crackling fireplace hot, it's the restaurant's hospitality that really sets it apart--Lorenzo Azria is nearly always there, circling the room, chatting with every group seated in their sturdy wooden booths, and generally making sure you're twice as comfortable as you just were.