Uptown's Marche is now Mercado, with cocktails, tacos, and lots of tequila

An infusion of color makes the apartment lobby a lot more festive.

An infusion of color makes the apartment lobby a lot more festive. Mecca Bos

If you’ve been paying attention, you know the Mexican bistro is trending like crazy (see Pajarito, Jefe Urban Hacienda, the upcoming Baja Haus and Popol Vuh).

But we're still crushing on the simple taqueria, those casual affairs where you can grab a taco to go, or get it and sit very briefly, and go.

Now you can think of Mercado, the Mexican-themed revision of the Marche space in Lyn-Lake, as just that kind of place. The counter-service setup and made-in-front-of-you cooking line makes this a quite good place to eat and drink in Uptown. It's reasonably priced, too: Tacos are all in the $5-$6 range and drinks are no more than $10 and often more like $8. 

Some clever baubles try to offset the staid lobby feel, which, no matter how many streamers you hang, is still a lobby. But it’s a valiant effort, and a sight for sore winter eyes. There are lots of plants (donate one and get a free drink in exchange), lots of pineapples and mangoes, and lots of good tequila. It’s cute.

If a first drink and a first taste of a taco are any indication, the food and the drink are very good, too. Find a long list of good cocktails, like the Paloma, a grapefruit, lime, habanero, and tequila highball made just right. The bar program comes courtesy of Earl Giles, a mixology group that will be setting up beverage programs all over town. But in the meantime, watch for their name here.

As we reported in December, Mercado owner Jeff Erkkila knows his tequila, mezcal, and raicilla (some think of it as Mexican moonshine), and the spirits list here will be an ever-growing one. Erkkila wintered in Sayulita, Mexico for a lot of years, and he says the menu is made up of recipes he's picked up along the way. The “mariscos” taco with shimp in garlic butter and ginger was excellent with poppy al dente shrimp and a Crybaby Craigs-infused crema. 

Yes, you’re still eating in an apartment lobby — there’s no shaking that. But at least you’re doing it with carnitas and fancy tequila. And here's a thing: You can bring your dog! 

A new dog-friendly taqueria in Uptown in winter. It's got staycation written all over it. 

Now open. 
2904 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis