Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Masa – Minneapolis, MN

My parents were in town, so I decided to take them someplace nice to eat. Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. My mother likes lots of different things, however my father is…uh… not adventurous, doesn’t eat Asian/seafood/anything not American, Mexican, or Italian, and can’t handle anything spicier than ketchup. I’m sooo glad I inherited my mother’s palette.

Gerd and I have a huge list of restaurants we have wanted to go to or heard about from friends. On this list were a few places I thought about taking my folks to. I finally decided we needed to go to Masa in downtown Minneapolis - one of the places near the top of our list. Masa is touted as being “Contemporary Mexican Cuisine” (not “temporary Mexican” like my mother thought I said… ha ha ha) I checked out the menu and thought there were enough things that were bland enough for my father to eat. This would prove to be false. However, I deluded myself long enough to get him into the restaurant.

We had a super helpful waiter – Michael. He helped my father decipher the menu (written in plain English and with a glossary in the back of the menu - seriously). He also pointed to the specials they had, which I took full advantage of: ½ price margaritas (all of them) and 3 for $30 (appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $30). Michael the waiter helped my dad decide on the blandest plain tacos on the menu (three different ones for some variety), and my mother and I had no trouble deciding. After a few minutes, Michael came back and told my dad he talked to the chef and he thought there might be too much spice for my dad and he should just get the bland one (the carnitas), but three of them. Hilarious. And like I said, he was really helpful.

I started with a cucumber margarita. It sounded weird enough to be good. And it was! It is a cucumber and mint infused tequila with triple sec and fresh lime juice, garnished with a cucumber. Really good and not too minty, which was a concern at first. (My mom the non-drinker even had a sip to see what she thought – she didn’t think it was cucumber-y enough.) I thought it was excellent.

For my 3 for $30, I started with Ensalada de Jicama y Mango con Vinegreta de Cilantro – a mango and jicama salad with cilantro, lime vinaigrette and cotija cheese. It was fantastic. The jicama of course doesn’t have much flavor, but added a non-offensive crunch to the whole thing and the cheese added some sweetness to the whole thing. It’s one of the better salads I’ve gotten at a restaurant anywhere.

I got the Puerco Veracruzana for my entrée – a roasted pork shoulder marinated with lime, garlic, and chile ancho. It’s served with pineapple broiled in adobo and also some black bean puree. This was an awesome meal. The meat was super flavorful without being spicy and there was a decent amount of it. I got plenty full. The pineapple was really spicy, which was quite weird, but delicious. And the black beans were fine. Nothing special. I’m really glad I got this.

My mother loved her food. She got a couple sea bass tacos (made with Admiral Ackbar) and a carnitas taco. She raved about them all. The bean side dish she got was awesome as well. Spicy pinto beans of some sort. Excellent.

And the bonus for the night – my father loved his carnitas tacos. He was hesitant at first, but he powered through the first bite and loved them. He even tried to squeeze a lime on a bite to see if he liked that more. He said, “that lime just brings out the lime taste.” Classic, but not as classic as this line he used later in the meal – “I didn’t open my taco. That’s living adventurously.” Totally TWSS.

For dessert, I got the Coconut Flan. I hate coconut, but I was willing to take a gamble that the coconut wouldn’t be too over powering. And I was right (again). It was really quite good. I’m even a texture person, but it was really good. So good in fact, I forgot to take a photo BEFORE my father and I started. He also hates coconut, so this just verifies you can’t taste the coconut in it at all. I think it was my father’s first flan – and it was a good one.

Overall, one fantastic meal, actually three fantastic meals (mine, mom’s, and dad’s). I want to try a couple of things on this menu (including drinks), so I will be back for sure.

Top 5 things about Masa
1. Puerco Veracruzana
2. Carnitas (based on the raving across the table from me)
3. Jicama and Mango salad
4. Coconut Flan
5. Cucumber Margarita

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have made us eat here every night for a month. This was one of her additions to the list
2. If you don’t like spice (aka flavor), this might not be your restaurant
3. No parking nearby
4. I should have had another three margaritas, but I was with my folks
5. I wish the Barbacoa was on the $30 menu deal – it looks awesome

www.masa-restaurant.com

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