The live chats we conduct over the noon hour most Thursdays at Startribune.com invariably include some variation on the following question: “What’s a good Mexican restaurant?”
Here’s my go-to reply: Las Teresitas.
At this family-owned operation, the emphasis is on home-style cooking, with fresh, bold flavors.
The lengthy menu spotlights all the usual suspects, including burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tamales and quesadillas, but manages to keep notions of interchangeability to a minimum.
Very little feels rote, starting with the slow-roasted meats — including pork and a half-dozen cuts of beef — all carefully seasoned and nurtured to just the right textures.
What really sets the place apart is its magnet of a salsa bar, a collection of nine soulful house-made condiments that move from the mild (a colorful pico de gallo) to the near-incendiary (jalapeño and smoky roasted tomato) in a self-serve setup that encourages sampling.
The kitchen also keeps plenty of garnishes on hand, including its own pickled peppers, as well as a pretty array of neatly trimmed radishes, cucumbers, limes and other appealing add-ons.
What also stands out is the value. Portions are routinely enormous, yet prices barely venture beyond fast-food territory. A different price-conscious daily special also impresses; for example, tacos are a buck on Tuesday.
The vibe is right, too, with a cheery dining room done up in a comic-book color palette and daily specials that are priced to move. Service is fleet and friendly. The only missing element? Beer. OK, tequila, too. But that’s a minor complaint.
5748 34th Av. S., Mpls., 612-727-1791, www.lasteresita.com. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.