Oro (Minneapolis, MN)

Starting with my last pre-Pandemic visit to Minneapolis in 2019, several of my food-loving friends that still live in Minneapolis all had one place they consistently wanted me to try on my next visit to the Twin Cities: Nixta tortilleria. Nixta quickly became known as an excellent source for both hand-made heirloom corn tortillas and takeout meals built around them (birria, quesadillas, chilaquiles, empanadas, tacos, tlacoyos, and tlayuda!), especially during the height of the pandemic… but Nixta wasn’t open every day of the week, and my visits in 2019 and 2021 weren’t able to accomodate Nixta’s schedule. Neither was my visit this spring, but there was a key difference this time: chef Gustavo Romero of Nixta got access to the adjacent storefront, and opened a full retail restaurant, Oro. My visit to Minneapolis happened just a few weeks after their grand opening.

The newly-renovated space on 2nd St NE in the Sheridan Neighborhood makes it a nice little addition to that corner of “Nordeast”, and they’ve got a nice setup: you can either wait for a table or order takeout (including their famous tortillas from Nixta next door). While it was quite busy on my visit, it was only a few minutes wait at 6pm for a table in the back, right next to an impressive number of sacks of heirloom masa from Masienda, a well-known Los Angeles vendor of Mexican-native corn and masa.

Pretty much everything on the menu leverages the heirloom masa, ranging from a tlayuda (basic a jumbo variant on a tostada) and gorditas and tamales, and they really make it a point to hit both a wide spectrum of spice (Oro opts for bold flavors over particularly hot ones), and really focusing on a lot of traditional Oaxacan and Mexican flavors, like mole, huitlacoche (aka “corn smut”, a colorful fungus growing on corn ears), and mushrooms.

My visits to Minneapolis aren’t exactly known for their restraint (see my comments in the previous review about fitting in two visits to Al’s Breakfast thing time), so I had to show a little bit of restraint in my ordering, but I couldn’t resists the quesadilla de huitlacoche: their house-made excellent tortilla (toothsome and flavorful, way better than even my best homemade efforts), a nicely spiced mix of huitlacoche and epazote, and doubling down on the mushroom concept with a side of mushroom conserve. All lightly garnished with cheese and toasted up. This was a delicious, satisfying dish: a nice bit of crispiness and nuttiness from the tortilla, a rich, herby and earthy huitlacoche filling, and dabbing at bits of the conserve on the side really made for a nice dish.

I also got a simple carnitas taco, served up with avocado salsa, cured onion, and cilantro. This was basically a perfectly executed taco: the carnitas having a bit of the ever-important light crispiness, the avocado salsa being more flavorful than oily while being very rich in garlic, and the onion tying it all together with just a bit of bite and tang. A perfect taco.

Adding in two packs of their house-made tortillas to take home to New Hampshire, and I was happy indeed. It’s a great spot, well-appreciated by the locals, and serving up Mexican food of a caliber that would even be welcome in Mexico. I’ll definitely be back.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply