La Fresca: A new concept from chef Hector Ruiz

The Patatas Bravas from Rincon 38
The Patatas Bravas from Rincon 38

It's been less than a year since chef Hector Ruiz shuttered his Uptown restaurant El Meson, and since then he's not only continued to operate his other longstanding concept, Cafe Ena, but he's also launched a new restaurant, Rincon 38, that has been met with critical praise. Now he's set to bark up a whole new tree. Just blocks from where Cafe Ena sits, at the south Minneapolis intersection of 47th Street and Grand Avenue, Ruiz has been working on his newest venture, La Fresca.

The restaurant will feature "European comfort food," but it sounds as though it'll be treated with Ruiz's classic Latin fare. Grass-fed burgers and various sandwiches will play prominent roles on the menu, as will homemade ice cream. Ruiz is planning a trip to Mexico to learn the craft from a second-generation ice cream maker.

See also:
Rincon 38 shows that less is more: The new tapas restaurant packs a lot of flavor into small plates Rincon 38: The Tour [Slideshow]
Queso Frito from Rincon 38
Queso Frito from Rincon 38

Ruiz is hoping to hone in on a much younger demographic than his other two concepts as he seeks to bring in students after school from nearby Washburn High School, which his son may one day attend. The idea is to offer better, healthier options than the nearby convenience stores and fast food locations that attract the hordes of hungry post-school students.

Ruiz told the Southwest Journal, "I want to support the community and the school." He plans to set aside a portion of each sale that comes from nearby students that are willing to flash their school IDs for school supplies, which will then be donated back to the school.

The restaurant will be small, about 36 seats and roughly comparable in size to Rincon 38, but it will sport an entirely open kitchen. Look for La Fresca to open sometime this fall. 

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