Corn Pancakes at Maria’s Cafe in Minneapolis


Sallie Bonamarte / Heavy Table

Waffles are always hogging the spotlight. They’re always posting pictures of themselves online with all their cool friends, like fried chicken and ham. They’re always bragging about their Belgian roots or Southern upbringing. Meanwhile, the humble pancake is relegated to sidekick status.

This is not the case at Maria’s Cafe on 11th and Franklin in Minneapolis, where pancakes rule supreme. Among the South American breakfast specialties on the menu, there is a section devoted exclusively to pancakes (pancakes with plantains, pancakes with wild rice, chocolate chip pancakes). But the standout, rightfully appearing in its own section, is the Cachapas Venezolanas: corn pancakes ($3.80 for one, $7.50 for two).

These enormous pancakes are served perfectly golden brown and crisp on the edges, with the requisite scoop of butter melting on top. For an extra $1.75, you can have a dish of crumbled cotija cheese on the side — a nice, piquant addition, but not necessary unless you need your sweet and your salty fix at once. The pancake batter is made from a mixture of flours and is spotted throughout with small nibblets of fresh corn. On their own, the pancakes are sweet and delicious, though we wouldn’t blame you if you added maple syrup.

Maria's Cafe

Sallie Bonamarte / Heavy Table

Housed in the Ancient Traders Market, Maria’s Cafe has a South-America-by-way-of-South-Minneapolis vibe, with Latin pop music piped through the speakers, cane chairs, Colombian tourism posters on the walls, and Colombian artifacts on display throughout the restaurant. The service is friendly and the coffee is always fresh. More than a decade of accolades from the local press line the walls alongside portraits of visiting political luminaries. There are no waffles, but the corn pancakes alone are worth the trek.

Maria’s Cafe, 1113 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404; 612.870.9842

Why I Came Back to the Farm

Minnesota Pork Board

From left: Paula Boerboom, Greg Boerboom, Laurie Kesteloot, Mike Boerboom, and Matt Boerboom / Minnesota Pork Board

This story is sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board.

This is the first piece in a three part series from the Minnesota Pork Board. In the third article, we will be answering your questions. Leave a comment, tweet us @MinnesotaPork, post a question on the Minnesota Pork Facebook page or send us an inquiry via to have your questions included.

By Laurie Kesteloot

My family’s farm is located just east of Marshall, Minn. My brothers and I are the third generation to operate the farm, which we do alongside my parents. With a team of about 15 employees, we raise and sell 80,000 market hogs annually and farm 600 acres of corn and soybeans.

My parents never pushed careers in agriculture on my brothers and me when we were growing up. In fact, I never had any intention of returning to the farm. I studied economics and accounting in college, worked in the banking industry, and never planned on looking back. In the first couple of years of my career I began to notice a cultural shift toward people wanting to know where their food came from. In the media, at grocery stores, and at dinners with friends, the misperceptions I was hearing about where our food comes from and how farmers are raising animals was almost overwhelming. It was a steady drumbeat that I wanted to disrupt by sharing some of my own personal experiences.

Minnesota Pork Board

Minnesota Pork Board

It’s funny how life takes you places you didn’t expect. The commentary on farming began pulling me back to my family’s farm, and two years later I’ve found myself in a job that is innate for me — working with my parents and my two brothers improving our family farm everyday.

Food Mentors, Chain Pizza, the Curry Diva and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Reviews of a couple Castle Danger brews, plus we talk flavored beer (featuring Schell’s, Borealis, Urban Growler, Bent Paddle, and Northgate) on Minnesota Public Radio’s Appetites series. The Minnesota Food Charter launched this week. The Well Fed Guide to Life gets out to Hello Pizza (our review here).  Curry Diva Heather Jansz is hosting a weekly pop-up at Our Kitchen in Uptown. Republic Uptown is devoting all 56 taps to local beer in November. A new Kickstarter campaign is raising money for Urban Forage, an urban winery and cider house on East Lake Street. Dara looks at the mentors behind Lyn65 (our review here) and The Third Bird (review here.) Rick Nelson does a pizza chain roundup (Tucci Pronto, Pizza Rev, Pieology, and Pizza Studio). And Jess Fleming delivers a Minnesota body slam (“So how was the food? Some of it was good. Some of it was, in a word, disappointing”) to the current incarnation of the Union-Workshop-Kaskaid entity.

Farms in the Lens: Wild Acres

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

About the Farms in the Lens series: Much of what we write within these pages is focused on the restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul. But much of what we eat at those tables comes from farms around the state. With underwriting from Clancey’s Meats and Fish, we’ve set out to document a half dozen of these farms, focusing on the relationship between humans and animals.

Pheasant hunting has an air of romance to it — the combination of hunters, dogs, and prairie evokes a Victorian novel made real right here in Minnesota. Beyond Brainerd, off the highway, then onto a gravel road, past the hunters and a log cabin, a complex series of barns, buildings, and enclosures houses Wild Acres Hunting Club and Shooting Preserve, and also thousands of the area’s most treasured poultry birds.

Wild Acres supplies turkeys, ducks, chickens, and pheasants to many Twin Cities restaurants and shops. They control the whole process: They supply their own eggs, hatch the birds, raise them, process them on site, and deliver them.

clanceys-shirt-bannerWhat began as a shooting preserve in 1978 became a pioneering farm that in the 1980s was among the first to sell free-range chickens. The farm has been a favorite of many food professionals, including Wolfgang Puck, Charlie Trotter, and numerous Twin Cities chefs.

“Most of my chefs will say, ‘It’s not what we do with it; it’s a good product when it comes in,’” says Pat Ebnet, who owns and runs the bird-growing side of the business. (His mother, who is semiretired, runs the game preserve.) “Going to one of the restaurants and seeing the end preparation, that is the end benefit. That is the ‘wow,’ that these people really appreciate what I do,” says Ebnet.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

A single flock of geese roams around the property during the summer. Many are sold at Christmas time.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Wild Acres started as a shooting preserve and still has a shooting club. Since Ebnet took over, the poultry operation has vastly outpaced the shooting preserve. Pheasants are hatched twice a year and live outdoors. Ebnet processes about 4,000 pheasants each year for restaurants and markets including local coops and Clancey’s.

Lagos Pop-Up, Wine Republic, and Red Table

Banner for the Tap: Food and Drink News

Nigerian food on the move, a new specialty wine shop in Excelsior, and a look at some of the offerings of the Red Table Meat Company in today’s edition of The Tap.

shepherd-song-tap-logo-final-keylineThe Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100 percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”


Courtesy of Tunde Wey

Courtesy of Tunde Wey

Coming Soon to Minneapolis: Lagos Pop-Up Dinner (Tuesday, Nov. 11 – DATE CHANGED)

Detroit chef Tunde Wey (recently departed from revolver) is touring the country cooking Nigerian food, and Minneapolis is the next stop on his itinerary.

We caught up with him by phone on the Chicago leg of his tour and asked him why Twin Cities diners should check out his Nov. 11 pop-up dinner.

“The sort of person who’s attracted to this sort of thing is ready to try something different, and has sort of a swagger sensibility, and doesn’t need an explanation,” Wey says.

“But I will say what the food is not, it’s not precious,” he adds. “It’s really a hearty, authentic cuisine. At revolver, we had revolving chefs come in, doing the cuisine du jour, modern American fare, with all of its aesthetics and presentation and all that. And that’s all wonderful progressive food, but after doing that for a year, I became more and more enamored with the food that I grew up with. It has a real degree of technical skill, but it’s unpretentious. So I just went back home, you know?”

Wey is 31 years old and has been a professional chef for less than a year. He came to the United States in his mid-teens, living with an aunt who — along with his mother — gave him a grounding in how to prepare traditional Nigerian meals.

To this day, his family is his cooking school when it comes to the kind of Nigerian food he’ll cook in Minneapolis: “I’ll call my mom on the phone and ask, ‘How’d you make this again?’ I’ll call my aunt; I’ll call my cousin, and learn how the food is made. I’m learning by taste. That’s my training — my palate, my mouth.”

Wey says the tour is about the holistic experience, not a painstaking, flavor-by-flavor examination of the food.

“Devoting all this time to what food tastes like, ‘what is this note?’ takes a little bit away from what I’m trying to do, which is to get people together and eat, and to have fun,” he says. “The main thing is: come out and have a good time.”

Lagos x Minneapolis
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 6:30pm

Tickets $45
Location To Be Announced, BYOB

Jollof Rice / Rice Pilaf
Asun / Peppered Goat Meat
Goat Pepper Soup
Egusi/ Melon Seed + Spinach Stew
Fufu / Cassava Paste
Dodo / Fried Plantains

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Red Table Meat Company Ramps Up

When we spotted local charcuterie king Mike Phillips (above) at the Mill City Farmers Market a couple of months ago, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming: His Red Table Meat Company has been fighting through curtains of red tape over the past few years, and there have been a number of false starts. But the doors (at The Digging food-business accelerator space in Northeast Minneapolis) are open, and Red Table Meat Company products are hitting the market in force.