It’s not fair to Chino Latino’s extensive and ambitious multi-ethnic menu to say that this is a restaurant driven by its atmosphere, but the fact remains that this a place driven in large part by its image: bustling, cosmopolitan, glamorous, fast-moving and poorly lit in a manner that suggests a good party, not a crummy interior designer. The restaurant’s striking interior (a wall of votive candles, a dark and inviting lounge, a punched-out floor highlighting the player-friendly boothes and a giant executive table) is a good match for its menu, which can be summarized as “street food from the hot zones,” but also includes sushi.
If entertainment, easy-to-share food and a bunch of good drinks are the aim, Chino is one of the best destinations in the Cities: it’s long on novelty and verve. While it gets loud and crowded on many evenings, the staff and floor plan can handle the crush, making it an ideal destination for a swinging happy hour or loud after-hours office get-together. Both the afternoon and late-night happy hours boast truly outrageous deals (a $3 torta sandwich special that includes a pile of chips and high-quality guac, a $2 poblano fundido) and make this a key watering hole candidate for those in the Uptown area.
Ordering from the restaurant’s menu takes work, and can be a process that takes two or three attempts and a number of drinks to perfect. Many of the entrees are, in fact, enormous and can feed 3-5 people depending on size and appetite. Careful consultation with waitstaff can mean the difference between a surprisingly reasonable bill and a great night out, and an enormous tab and 15 pounds of leftovers.
BEST BET: The plaintain-chip based Nachos del Sol and just about anything served during either of the restaurant’s two happy hours.
2916 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Fusion in Uptown, Minneapolis
OWNER/CHEF: Parasole / Noah Barton
RESERVATIONS/RECOMMENDED?: Yes and Yes for Thu-Sat nights
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN: Yes and No
ENTREE RANGE: ($10-45)