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Modern Mexican bakery jumping from farmers market to new storefront in south Minneapolis

Another farmers market stand is going the brick-and-mortar route.

Dulceria Bakery, maker of contemporary Mexican sweets, is taking over the former Colossal Cafe space at E. 42nd Street and Cedar Avenue South in  Minneapolis. The doors should open in June. 

“I’m excited, and terrified, and excited again,” said owner Dulce Monterrubio. 

In 2017, Monterrubio left her 13-year career in education to follow her passion, baking a wide range of eye-grabbing cookies, bars, pies, cakes and other delicacies that spotlight ingredients from her native Mexico: addictive ancho chile brownies, decadent shortbread bars topped with mango and toasted coconut, guava jam-glazed pound cake, clever conchas-shaped cupcakes filled with all kinds of goodies, lattice-topped Haralson apple pie with cajeta-pecan crumble and delicate, lard-based cookies brimming with a refreshing orange bite.

It's no suprise that shoppers at the Linden Hills Farmers Market jumped. That enthusiasm from the community encouraged Monterrubio, who just returned from a month-long fact-finding trip to Mexico, full of ideas for expanding her menu. 

“I was doing more formal culinary training, and meeting owners of bakeries, she said. “I wanted to see what Mexico is doing now, and how it has evolved over the last 20 years. There’s a movement in Mexico to reclaim our culture, and our ingredients. And there’s this affirmation that you can use traditional experiences and merge them with what’s happening globally. There are so many immigrants in Mexico – from Indian, and China, and Korea, and Colombia – and that’s starting to seep into Mexican pastries. It’s very exciting.”

She also witnessed a tremendous amount of French influence. 

“The big trend is éclairs,” she said. “But instead of being filled with pastry cream, they’re filled with cajita, or a spicy chocolate ganache, and finished with a guava glaze.”

Monterrubio was also happy to encounter a favorite from her childhood, pan de elote

“It’s a fresh corn kernel cake, almost like a flan,” she said. “It used to be something my mother made. But after NAFTA, everyone was interested in American ingredients. Everyone wanted doughnuts, they wanted Krispy Kreme, and pan de elote disappeared. Suddenly, no one wanted to eat it. Now it’s the dessert of the day, with maybe an eggnog liqueur glaze. This younger generation, it’s reclaiming what our parents stopped making. It’s exciting.”

It’s a treat that’s also naturally gluten-free, an emphasis that will continue as Dulceria makes the transition from farmers market stand to bakery. 

“We’ll be looking to incorporate more gluten-free and vegan pastries into the menu,” she said.

Post-journey, another classic that she’s also finally ready to embrace is tres leches cake.

“I didn’t before because there are so many other Mexican bakeries offering excellent tres leches cake, so why add to the competition?,” she said. “Besides, it’s such a stereotype: tres leches and churros, that’s all that people think of when they think of Mexico, and I want to bring something different to the conversation. How about a spicy Mexican chocolate cupcake, or a sangria cupcake, with sangria syrup?”

One trend she feels Minnesota might not quite be ready for is ground crickets. 

“That might come later,” she said with a laugh. “I tried a chocolate ganache with dried and ground crickets, and it was fantastic.” 

The small-scale space (which was most recently home to the short-lived Original on 42 sandwich shop) will include limited seating (“We’re putting in a bar by the window, so people can enjoy the sunlight that we desperately need,” said Monterrubio) and it’ll also feature beverages.  

“Both traditional and trendy Mexican beverages,” she said. “We’re going to try and offer something different from lattes and cappuccinos, drinks you can’t find anywhere else in the Twin Cities.”

The commute won’t be a long one. Monterrubio and her family live 10 blocks from the new bakery. 

“We were adamant about staying in the neighborhood,” she said. “We were lucky to find the space.”

After baking for a year in her home kitchen (by statute, home production is allowed for farmers market sales), Monterrubio is looking forward to moving on to a roomier commercial setup. 

“And the support from other bakers has been amazing,” she said. “I just met with Anne from Honey & Rye, and she was great about walking me through the process of transitioning from a home to a commercial bakery. She and so many others have been so supportive and have shared so much information. This community of women bakers is amazing.”

Burger Friday: At Target Field's new restaurant, a fab double-patty cheeseburger

The burger: The Twins might not be the winning-est team in major league baseball, but Target Field has got to be one of the sport’s top-performing venues. Consider the way it’s always innovating in the food-and-drink front. This season’s big to-do is pretty major: it’s the advent of Bat & Barrel, an enormous, great-looking, open-to-everyone restaurant and bar, located on right field’s Club level. 

In remaking the former Metropolitan Club, executive chef Kurt Chenier tapped partnerships with Twin Cities restaurants to craft his table-service menu (the servers, by the way, are terrific, communicating with the kitchen via iPad, and the food arrives in a flash), a savvy way to connect the ballpark with the community.

There are a handful of burgers on the menu, including an impressive double-decker veggie cheeseburger using Impossible Burger patties, a plant-based product that comes remarkably close to resembling an actual grilled beef patty. 

The headliner is another double-patty cheeseburger, a knife-and-fork bruiser that Chenier borrows (and tweaks, smartly) from Ike’s Food & Cocktails

At Ike’s, the “Tavern Burger” calls upon a half-pound patty. But at Bat & Barrel, Chenier splits the difference, using two four-ounce patties. Why? Timing.

“On any given day, we’ve had 400 people walk through the door, and when the weather gets nice, I imagine we’ll have up to a thousand,” he said. “That’s a big chunk of people. Which is why we built our menu based on speed and accuracy.”

A four-ounce patty cooks in five minutes, while an eight-ounce version requires an additional three to four minutes. There are aesthetics to consider, too.

“I just think it’s easier to eat a double stack rather than a single eight-ounce patty,” he said. 

Mine arrived medium-rare, with a perfect level of tasty pink in the middle of each patty. All garnishes found in the standard diner double-patty treatment are present and accounted for: tons of melty American cheese, crunchy shredded iceberg lettuce and red onion, a juicy tomato slice, a few supermarket-esque pickles to act as a palate cleanser (all the veggies are tucked between patties and the bottom half of the bun) and a mayo-ketchup “special” sauce to contribute a bit more juice to the proceedings. Oh, and bacon (cut pancetta-thin), laid out in a criss-cross pattern. It’s very Emberger Royale, if anyone recalls that 1970s delicacy from the Embers chain. 

The bun? A plus-size, buttered, toasted onion bun, one that’s sturdy enough to handle the pile-on inside it; the onion is a swell touch. 

Back to that time-is-of-the-essence issue (which explains why Chenier and his crew studied the kitchen's engineering at high-volume Surly Brewing Co.). It's why the menu reads, “No substitutions, no modifications.” Ignore it.

“We put that on the menu, and it’s not going over well,” said Chenier with a laugh. “Of course we will cater to the needs that people have.”

Taken as a whole, the “Tavern” stands up to the proliferation of double-patty cheeseburgers found around town. It certainly exceeds expectations for baseball stadium fare. And it’s already popular. 

“We’re only a few games in, but so far, we’re selling 100 Tavern burgers a night,” said Chenier. “The next best item is the Tennessee Hot chicken sandwich, and that’s maybe 50 to 70 a night.”

Price: $14.

Fries: Included. They’re the beer-battered fry that’s also served at the Target Field’s Red Cow outfield outpost, and they’re terrific, particularly their uncanny ability to retain their crunch-ed up texture. 

Where he burgers: “I’m not necessarily a burger person,” said Chenier. “I’m more of a Reuben connoisseur.” “We live in Minnetonka, so when I’m out with the kids, we’ll go to Maynards and I’ll get the ‘Mr. Jimmy’ burger. Or I’ll go to the Gold Nugget. Red Cow does a great job, but that’s a drive all the way into town.”

Address book: Find Bat & Barrel on the Club level, between gates 29 (right field) and 34 (Target Plaza) at Target Field. From the main concourse (look for this sign, pictured above) there’s a handy staircase, and an elevator. B&B opens when the gates open, and continues to serve for an hour after the game’s conclusion.

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