Monday, March 25, 2013

La Cabana – St. Paul, MN

Coach was in town and we thought we’d get some Mexican food for lunch. La Cabana had been recommended by one of D.Rough and my friends, Fanny and Manny, so we headed over to Dayton’s Bluff in St. Paul to check it out knowing nothing other than it is tasty.

When we got inside, we realized this was a happening place. It was apparently Mexican Karaoke Saturday Afternoon and the music was rockin. There are two dining rooms in the place. The main seating area was where the karaoke was happening and was almost full of people. Then the extra dining room looked like they had just purchased it and had put some temporary folding tables and chairs in there. Maybe not, since the restrooms were off this dining room. Obviously, I don’t care what I’m sitting on while I eat, so this isn’t a downside for me. We thought we’d escape the volume of the music in the auxiliary dining room, but it was still pretty loud in there. Mainly because the people singing were having a blast. People were laughing at the non-professional singers and Coach and I found it amusing that people didn't even get up from their lunch when singing. The guy would just bring the mic to their table and let them belt out their song. Really, it was a fun vibe here.
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The server brought out a delicious basket of thick-cut tortilla chips and a red and green salsa. Coach isn’t much for salsa, so I ended up cleaning up both bowls. The green was cilantro-based and the red was more tomato-based. Bother were pretty fantastic. A little bit of heat, but not too much.

The menu is pretty geared to Spanish-speakers, so be ready for that. But most things have an English translation. Hey, they have the home-court advantage here, so if I can’t read the menu, then it’s my own fault. Thankfully, they had lots of things I recognized on the menu (and quite a few I didn’t – which is awesome). I ended up ordering Puerco en Salsa Roja (pork in red sauce). Coach got chorizo and eggs.

The food came out fairly quickly and looked and smelled delicious. My pork was shredded into pieces and came with beans, rice, and a simple salad drizzled with sour cream. I started on the beans and rice. They had decent flavor – nothing ground breaking, but good. The pork had some onions in it, which I sifted through quickly, since there weren’t a ton (I love the flavor of onions, but I’m mildly allergic). Both of our dishes came with small corn tortillas, so I ended up rolling and devouring four or five tacos with pork, rice, beans, and lettuce. The flavor of the meat was pretty darn good – one of the better red-sauced-porks I’ve had, in all honesty. Not greasy or gristly, and the flavor was warm and vibrant. There wasn’t a ton of heat in these, which would have been my only issue with it, but flavor-wise, it was fantastic. Very authentic and not watered down with American boringness (THANK YOU, La Cabana!).

Coach’s eggs and chorizo were a little disappointing to him, since he was expecting Mexican chorizo sausage and he said his tasted more like American breakfast sausage. It must not have been that bad, since he beat ME to a clean plate. But he also was disappointed with the lack of heat, just a little bit.

Overall, I’m looking forward to coming back to La Cabana with D.Rough and getting a few non-standard items. Who knows, maybe I’ll bust out a Mexican karaoke song of my own. I’ll be working up some magic between now and then. There’s a few people that have expressed interest in me watching me bulldoze my way through a Jose Jose song in 2013. It may happen…

Top 5 things about La Cabana
1. Puerco en Salsa Roja
2. Mexican Karaoke
3. Table salsa was very good
4. Very nice staff
5. Generous portions

Bottom 5 things
1. It was very loud in here during karaoke (not complaining, just warning)
2. Not very spicy
3. Chorizo may not have been Mexican chorizo (I can’t confirm, since I didn’t try it)
4. Just a tiny bit bummed there wasn’t pozole here. I bet it would be awesome!
5. The temporary tables and chairs might throw people expecting a fancy atmosphere

La Cabana
868 East 7th Street
St Paul, MN 55106
(651) 774-7547

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