Hector Ruiz explores modern Mexico’s fresh flavor
On sultry summer evenings in south Minneapolis, diners pack the sidewalk tables at Hector Ruiz’s Grand Avenue eateries: Rincon 38 (at 38th Street), Café Ena (46th), and the newest addition, La Fresca (48th). As its name suggests, La Fresca breathes fresh air into Tangletown’s sleepy dining scene through Ruiz’s modern perspective on traditional cuisine from the Spanish-speaking world. While Ena looks to South America and Rincon to Spain, La Fresca trades in nouveau Mexican cuisine. There’s strong Mayan influence on the menu—mild-mannered salbutes (corn tortillas topped with chicken, queso, and crema)—along with an abundance of seafood. The red snapper, or huachinango, arrives in a whirl of contrasting flavors and textures, paired with chorizo, potatoes, spinach, and sauces that lend both creaminess and heat—it’s signature Ruiz. The only thing that the colorful dining room lacks is tequila-based margaritas, but the strawberry-mango and watermelon-basil aguas frescas compensate nicely.