This is why I love Pineda Tacos

Though I no longer live within an impulse buy vicinity of a Pinedas, I still think about them first whenever someone says ‘authentic Mexican’.

Back in the olden days, I lived just a short drive from the Pinedas near Lake and Hiawatha. Those were the Wonder Years, kicking a ball around the yard, sitting on the swings at the park, setting off firecrackers in the tunnel to scare old folks, just narrowly missing yet another tender puppy love encounter with Winnie. Never mind that I was in my early 30s.

After my chores, dad would give me the keys to the Honda (“you fly, I buy”) and I’d drive 49 MPH down Hiawatha (before Light Rail, that’s exactly how fast you had to go to hit every light on the green – now you’re effed no matter how fast you drive) and practice my Spanish while ordering my family’s dinner from a guy who seemingly just got off the bus from Guadalajara. They always seemed so happy to be here, as we all were, because their presence meant that our painfully northern European dominated town finally served take-away tacos and burritos that didn’t have the name ‘Bell’ or ‘John’ attached to it.

Soon, Pinedas was voted “Best Mexican” in the Twin Cities by City Pages and it seemed life couldn’t get any better and then the Lake and Hiawatha location was gone. Unable to do without my football-sized burrote stuffed with chicken in green sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, cheese, beans, rice and hot sauce (but no guac or sour cream, gotta watch the figure), we drove to the location up on Lake and 35W, only to learn that the Lake and Hiawatha location had been bought out for development and would never re-open. This is why I hate people.

Now I live in downtown and I don’t have a car, so I have to walk across the river to Chipotle when I want a spontaneous tongue inferno. Chipotle is all right. Actually I would have killed for Chipotle back when I was in high school, but I’m irreparably spoiled now. Meanwhile I have to bide my time until someone with a car has a burrito craving in my immediate vicinity (“you fly, I buy”)

Pineda Tacos

311 E Lake St, Minneapolis

(612) 825-7466

UPDATE (Nov. 11th, 2007): OK, I’ve been to the reopened Lake and Hiawatha Pinedas at 2130B East Lake Street (on the west side of the building between the Subway and the Best Wireless). They’ve got a small sign in the window and they’re open seven days a week from 10am-10pm. The food is exactly the same, in fact the burrotes may be even larger than before. A very friendly manager type was working the cash register and patiently answered questions, particularly my concern that they were now making the food behind-the-scenes in the kitchen rather than out front where one can anal-retentively guide the food prep line in precise ingredient arrangement. (The short answer is that the food goes dry when it sits out there for long periods of time during slow parts of the day. During peak time, they may bring to food prep line back to the counter. Stay tuned.)

In any case, despite the salvaged look of the tables and chairs and the otherwise bare decor, they are slinging food in their old form. Run down there and welcome them back!

UPDATE (November 2011): The original location at 311 East Lake Street has been closed for some time. The Lake and Hiawatha location is still going strong. They also have a Plymouth location.

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Eating | 28.10.2007 15:03 | 4 Comments

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