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Chimborazo in Minneapolis

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Chimborazo is the kind of restaurant that it’s impossible not to root for. Relatively far off the radar (kudos to Mecca Bos-Williams at Metro for an early and accurate review), Chimborazo doesn’t have a PR firm and doesn’t flog a signature item like Guadalajara-style tacos or gringo-friendly fajitas in order to get folks through the door — if you’re going to step into the restaurant’s humble dining room, you’re probably going to do it on faith.

The good news is that faith, here, is rewarded with really well-balanced and expertly executed food. This includes a number of surprises that will charm the snow pants off of anyone not already familiar with Ecuadorian cuisine.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

An appetizer of llapingachos ($5) is a great way to start. These soft, mild potato patties stuffed with cheese and onions are served atop a fried egg with two kinds of sauce on the side: peanut and cilantro. A bite of warm, soothing llapingacho perks up and gets frisky with the addition of the cilantro sauce; add the peanut sauce instead, and the dish is all smooth, comforting mellowness. You can, of course, dress them up with both sauces, and the two somehow marry nicely.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

A fried trout lunch special ($12) was equally affable — neither greasy nor dry, well-balanced, mellow, and pleasingly crunchy without obscuring the tender flesh of the fish.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The star of the menu may be the camarones encocado ($10), a dish of shrimp covered in a vibrant red pepper / coconut sauce that’s so pleasingly balanced and mildly sweet that you’ll sop up the remainder with white rice long after the shrimp have been eaten. Along with the llapingachos, it’s a dish that you’ll be hankering for shortly after leaving the neighborhood.

It’s worth noting that Chimborazo is not for cilantrophobes — the controversial green herb made its way into nearly everything on the table, even the side dish of beans. If you like the stuff, you’ll find its use — in thoughtful moderation just about everywhere — to be a pleasing common thread tying together most to all of the dishes on the table. If you think it tastes like soap, you’ll be in trouble.

That caveat aside, there are some wonderful things going on in this softly spoken but soulful Northeast kitchen. And while we didn’t make it to the restaurant’s breakfast (which happens on Saturdays and Sundays), the plantain pancakes alone are enough to compel another visit — on top of other culinary achievements, Chimborazo nails the art of frying up a sweet plantain.

BEST BET: The shrimp or halibut encocado. The creamy, mellow, balanced coconut sauce would be worth buying were it bottled.

Chimborazo
Ecuadorian in Northeast Minneapolis

2851 Central Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
612.7881328
HOURS:
Mon-Thu 11am-10pm
Fri 11am-11pm
Sat 7am-11pm
Sun 7am-10pm
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
BAR: Beer
ENTREE RANGE: $7-12

By James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

13 replies on “Chimborazo in Minneapolis”

I’ve often been intrigued by this place. Something about it was calling out to me recently, and now we’ll certainly stop by. It’s good to have another alternative breakfast option in NE now that Chiapas is gone.

Someone recently told me I had to go to chim-bur-something and I promptly forgot these vague syllables and have spent close to two weeks trying to remember it. Chowhound’s lament, I know. THANK YOU for bringing this word back into my life which will now be reinforced indelibly by going there and tasting the food which is so mouth-wateringly pictured here.

We went over for breakfast on Saturday morning and had the llapingachos, which also came with a very rustic and good chorizo sausage. Over all, great first impressions. We want to go back and now try the regular lunch and dinner menu. Another quick point, they had Ecuadorian coffee which was also very good!

We have been back two more time since October, this place is just fantastic. The have the best churrasco that I have ever eaten anywhere.
You owe it to yourself to go and check this place out!!

Is The Best Traditional Andes Cuisine in Town. I like a lot the ceviche de Camaron, the empanadas mmmm…so delicious.
On weekends Fridays & Saturdays 7-9pm they have Live Andes Music by Ecuador Manta.

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