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5 things to know about Colita, Daniel Del Prado's 'Tex-Oaxacan' restaurant opening today

Colita's bar is backed with a wall of plush greenery.

Colita's bar is backed with a wall of plush greenery.

Try to tag Colita on Instagram and a number of other similarly named accounts pop up. Most of the tiny avatars are pictures of butts -- shapely lady rumps, specifically. "Colita," it turns out, translates to "little tail," a term as ripe for slang as a peach emoji. 

This cheeky fact is a perfect fit for Colita, the second project by the Martina dream-team duo of chef Daniel Del Prado in the kitchen and Marco Zappia behind the bar. A sexy, playful appeal fires up the cool, modern surrounds of this newcomer at 54th and Penn in south Minneapolis. 

Here are five things you should know about this soon-to-be hotspot, opening Tuesday.

The Naked Dani at Colita is a playful take on the margarita with blue weber agave tequila, seville orange, and lime -- and a salty foam garnish.

The Naked Dani at Colita is a playful take on the margarita with blue weber agave tequila, seville orange, and lime -- and a salty foam garnish.

5. The cocktails are wild.
"This sounds a little witchy," I say after Zappia, Colita's bar maestro, lists the various ingredients in my cocktail, including botanicals and fermented tree bark. "A little witchy, but accessibly witchy," he smiles, before darting off to refresh another glass. Borrowing heavily from Aztec and Mayan traditions, Zappia's inventive approach to cocktails makes the average mix-'n'-pour barkeep look lazy. But to balance that brainy mixology -- and remind you that you're here to have fun -- the bar crew serves their concoctions in playful formats: a Puerto Rican Heartbreaker in a little glass blowfish; the Trevino with bright flowers floating in a hollowed-out gourd; the Naked Dani, a now copiously photographed margarita with a rubber ducky topper and sudsy, salty foam garnish. We were especially wooed by the Colita Old Fashioned, with espadin mezcal, fermented amari, and the smooth, bittersweet flavor of cocoa nib.

The succulent short rib at Colita.

The succulent short rib at Colita.

4. It's Mexican, but also barbecue.
Del Prado originally envisioned this revamped service station in the Armatage neighborhood as a barbecue joint. Luckily, even as the concept shifted to "Tex-Oaxacan," Del Prado wasn't quite willing to part with the smoked meats. Thus, among the chewy housemade tortillas, tostadas, elotes, and prawns al pastor, you'll find Kansas City pork ribs, a pork chop with mojo verde, and a succulent short rib with mole.

Marco Zappia explains the zero-waste bar program he helms at Colita, which borrows heavily from pre-Hispanic herbalism and uses fermentation in almost every drink.

Marco Zappia explains the zero-waste bar program he helms at Colita, which borrows heavily from pre-Hispanic herbalism and uses fermentation in almost every drink.

3. There will be crickets.
Riding atop the mackerel aguachiles, a garnish of crispy chapulines (fried grasshoppers or crickets) perks up the tender fish. Those same ancho-spiced crickets were passed around as a crunchy snack during a recent soft opening. If you're squeamish, pretend it's fried, crushed chickpeas and give in to this protein-rich, addictive treat.

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2. It's just dinner... for now.
When Colita opens at 5 p.m. today, the staff will be focused on nightly dinner service. But we heard murmurings of a brunch service being added sometime in the coming months, and if the rollout of brunch at Martina is any indication, we're pumped for lazy weekend mornings spent here.

Colita serves "Tex-Oaxacan" fare, including this creamy elotes with corn, chipotle mayo, cotija, scallion, and Tajin seasoning.

Colita serves "Tex-Oaxacan" fare, including this creamy elotes with corn, chipotle mayo, cotija, scallion, and Tajin seasoning.

1. It's part of a movement. 
You aren't just imagining things. With the recent opening of Popol Vuh in northeast Minneapolis, Colita's debut today, and Ann Kim's forthcoming taco spot in Lucia's former Uptown space, upscale Mexican cuisine is having a moment. Does that mean we'll be abandoning our favorite spots along Lake Street? Hell no. We're just excited to see non-European cuisines better represented in the ambit of fine dining.

Colita
5400 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis
colitampls.com, 612-886-1606