Celebrated Mexican restaurant Popol Vuh closes in Northeast

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

Within the Twin Cities dining scene, the havoc of COVID-19 has indiscriminately wiped out neighborhood hangouts, pioneering institutions, and, in the case of Popol Vuh, a critically lauded upstart

The team behind Popol Vuh announced the northeast Minneapolis restaurant's closure Monday. Chef Jose Alarcon kept the place afloat for two years, but his adventurous upscale Mexican destination couldn't weather the current pandemic. 

"Saying goodbye to something that we poured our entire heart and soul into is painful, but we are so insanely grateful for the experience and hopeful for the future," says co-owner/manager Jami Olson. "The team, the passion, and the talent behind Popol Vuh is unlike anything I've seen before; it still exists and will continue." 

For now, it'll continue next door at sister restaurant Centro, which Olson reports will remain in business. It's safe to say Centro's $3-$5 tacos — the Best Tacos in the whole dang city — traveled better for takeout than Popol Vuh's steak tartare on house-made masa tortillas, a delicacy from the $45 tasting menu that helped it win our Best Fine Dining award. 

As coronavirus cases swell yet again in Minnesota, the restaurant biz won't be catching a break anytime soon. Olson's best advice? "Wear a damn mask."   

"The COVID challenges are immense indeed and something restaurants are navigating on a daily basis," she says. "Keep in mind: Nothing in the new world is the same, even dining out."