First Look: Los Ocampo is the Mexican food that was missing from the Minneapolis skyway

Some salvation following the closure of Los Ocampo's Lake Street outpost.

Some salvation following the closure of Los Ocampo's Lake Street outpost. Stacy Brooks

La Loma Tamales, Qdoba, Chipotle, even Taco John’s: The Minneapolis skyway is home to plenty of Mexican fare. Do we really need more?

If it comes in the form of tacos and pozole from Los Ocampo Express, the answer is a definitive yes.

The former Baja Sol space in City Center has been transformed into the local chain’s newest counter-service location, with a wall of potted plants, a colorful Twin Cities-themed mural, and plenty of seating. While there was already a significant line when we arrived at 11:30 on a recent morning, service was friendly and efficient, with an auxiliary iPad-wielding cashier to prevent a backup at the register.

As far as the menu, it’s the classic fast-casual format: Pick your entree, then your meat, and add the toppings. What makes Los Ocampo stand out from other skyway Mexican spots is the wealth of choices.

Stacy Brooks

Stacy Brooks

Sure, there are tacos, burritos, and bowls, but you can also get a piping-hot platter of pozole or a machete—a griddled masa cake filled with meat and melted cheese. There are 10 meat options, including carnitas, barbacoa, chorizo, and Mexican-style steak, plus seven different salsas.

Why settle for simply topping your tacos with cilantro and pico de gallo when you can add radishes, mango salsa, or diced pineapple?

Definitely grab a paper copy of the menu to study while you wait in line, since the menu board’s white-on-black text was a bit tricky to read. We opted for the pozole (which includes a tostada on the side), an al pastor taco, and a machete served with sides of rice and beans.

While we enjoyed everything we sampled—the comfort-in-a-bowl pozole was loaded with tender shreds of chicken and the al pastor was well-seasoned—the machete was the standout. Instead of meat, we ordered it filled with poblano vegetables, a blend of corn, mushrooms, and poblano peppers. The flavor combination of fire-roasted peppers, melted cheese, and crisp masa cake was supremely satisfying, but without the overwhelming heaviness that would necessitate an afternoon nap.

Stacy Brooks

Stacy Brooks

To wash down your meal, skip the fountain pop and try one of the bottled Mexican sodas. Or, even better, opt for the delectably cinnamon-forward horchata.

Los Ocampo offers the best of both worlds: Crowd-pleasing standards plus Mexican dishes and flavors you usually have to leave the skyway to track down. Even better? With weekday hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you don’t need to be a downtown cube dweller to appreciate City Center’s tasty new tenant.

In almost-as-good news, reports Ocampo's Lake Street location were closing have proven false, so you can still get your fill on the southside and downtown. 

Los Ocampo Express
City Center
40 S. Seventh St., Suite 203, Minneapolis