New-to-Minnesota chains coming to Mall of America

Cantina Laredo, a Dallas-based chain, is opening its 36th unit later this year at the Mall of America.

The restaurant, which will be on the mall’s third floor near Macy’s, will offer a familiar range of Tex-Mex fare, including tacos, enchiladas, chicken with mole sauce, carnitas, sea bass ceviche, guacamole prepared tableside and caramel flan, served at lunch and dinner daily. Expect to see entree prices in the $14 to $26 range.

The bar will specialize in margaritas and sangrias, and the Sunday brunch menu promises chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and corn pancakes topped with eggs and tomatillo sauce.

When the mall’s expansion opens in November on the property’s north side, it’s going to include Culinary on North, a third-floor food court.

The mall has announced the court’s first tenant: Piada Italian Street Food, a fast-casual concept that specializes in salads, soups and made-to-order wraps.

Coming soon

That empty Romano’s Macaroni Grill outlet in the Westridge Market shopping center (11390 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka) isn’t going to stay dark for long. Following its earlier Uptown collaboration with Kaskaid Hospitality, Salsa a la Salsa (salsaalasalsa.com) will be renovating the space and adding a patio.

Another diner is headed our way: Eggy’s Diner (1369 Spruce Place, Mpls., eggysdiner.com) is opening early fall in the LPM Apartments tower near Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis.

Summer food and drink

Restaurant-sponsored festivals continue through the month. On Saturday, Aug. 8, those 21 and older should consider heading down to the Smack Shack (603 Washington Av. N., Mpls., smack-shack.com) for Crayfest 2015, which will feature an all-you-can-eat Louisiana-style crawfish boil (the critters hail from the Gopher State, however) paired with all-you-can-drink Hurricanes and beer. A long roster of live music, too.

The fun begins at noon, and the first round of the crawfish eating contest kicks off at 2:25 p.m. Cost is $40 in advance (tempotickets.com) and $50 at the door.

On Aug. 22, Chipotle Mexican Grill (chipotle.com) is hosting Cultivate Minneapolis in Loring Park, an all-day (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) food fest with cooking demonstrations from chefs Jim Christiansen of Heydey, Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson of the planned Brut, Richard Blais of “Top Chef” fame (as well as San Diego’s Juniper & Ivy and Atlanta’s the Flip), and Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods.”

Expect fare from Chipotle (as well as ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the company’s not-in-Minnesota Asian concept) as well as libations from Surly Brewing Co. (including an ale brewed exclusively for the festival), Bent Paddle Brewing Co. and Sociable Cider Werks.

Local purveyors will include Patisserie 46, Dunn Bros., Jonny Pops, Groveland Confections, Sara’s Tipsy Pies, and more. Live music and kids’ activities, along with interactive experiences focusing on sustainable food practices. Free admission.

Looking ahead: a James Beard Foundation benefit

Jonathan Waxman of New York City’s Barbuto and Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable are teaming up with Timothy Fischer of the Loews Minneapolis Hotel, Andrew Zimmern, restaurateur Kim Bartmann (Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, the Third Bird) and chefs Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant, Thomas Boemer of Corner Table, Jim Christiansen of Heyday and Taya Kaufenberg of Tiny Diner for an event benefiting the James Beard Foundation and its Taste America Scholarship Fund.

The event, which includes a reception and four-course dinner, will take place on Oct. 2 at the Loews (601 1st Av. S., Mpls.). Tickets are $250; go to tasteamerica.myshopify.com/collections/minneapolis.

Meet Jorge Guzman

Surly Brewing Co. chef Jorge Guzman is one of seven panelists (along with Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools) speaking on the GMO safety, food labeling, animal welfare and other agriculture policy issues at Food Dialogues: Minneapolis. The free event is being held Aug. 11 at the Mill City Museum (704 S. 2nd St., Mpls.), with a cocktail and meet-and-greet event at 5:30 p.m. and the panel discussion at 7 p.m.

A baker at the Walker

Patisserie 46 baker/owner John Kraus is this month’s guest chef-in-residence at the Walker Art Center’s Gather (1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., gatherbydamico.com). From 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday Aug. 6, meet Kraus and enjoy free samples of his handiwork.

RICK NELSON