Chino Latino was one of the first experiences we’d had in Minneapolis, during a visit a few years back when we scoped out the area we might someday call home. It left us with a glamorous image of Uptown, an eclectic sense of the metro area, and a yen for more of the exceptional food and inventive drinks we’d thoroughly enjoyed. But, as official Minnesota residents, we hadn’t been back. When Jim’s sister paid us a visit, it was the perfect opportunity to see if Chino could impress us a second time.
Even on a Sunday night with a few more open tables than usual, the place was as loud as we’d remembered and busier than we’d expected. The energy level fooled us into believing the weekend was far from finished, prompting us to order a pitcher of sweet sangria to cool off on a 90-degree evening.
Chino’s menu is large and can be overwhelming when deciding where to start. While many of the menu items are exciting and unique, few dishes were meatless and several sounded similar to each other. Not that we had any trouble finding some winners. With the kitchen out of the appealing queso dip, we started with Nachos del Sol and Mrs. Wong’s Spicy Wok Tossed Edamame. The nachos’ long plantain chips shot outward from a platter of black beans, spicy chorizo, jalapeños, queso, fresh pico de gallo and sour cream. They were fun to dip, though hard to eat politely. It’s likely we all committed a few double dips to use the entire length of the chip, but consuming the entire nacho filling was worth it. The edamame was subtly seared and perfectly simple. Fresh jalapeños gave the salted pods a noticeable kick, so we alternated between the two appetizers to give our lips a break from the heat.
Next we ordered Pescado Ahumado – mesquite-smoked swordfish mixed with a citrus dressing, served alongside pico de gallo, guacamole and salted tortilla chips. The fish had a distinct smoky flavor, and the cool pico and guac let the filling appetizer serve as a refreshing summer entrée. To top it all off, we each ordered a taco from Tio Pepe’s Taco Hole. Helen’s featured bacon with a jalapeño aioli, while Jim and I had two variations of spicy chicken. Needless to say, we didn’t leave hungry – or unsatisfied.
The ambiance was fun and carefree, while service was nothing above average. Chino is still a place we’d recommend for just about anything — group gatherings or date nights (like the awkward first date we enjoyed observing), dinnertime or happy hour. And we’re confident that, in subsequent visits, they’ll step up to the plate and wow us time and again.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠1/2
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠♠
Total bill, including tip: $85