I’m interrupting the Dara & Co. State Fair Extravaganza to bring you this exciting announcement: Chi-Chi’s is back.
But wait—this is actually a good thing. Bear with me a second.
The same guys who brought us Sauce pizza and wine bar earlier this summer just opened Rojo Mexican Grill a few doors down at the Shops of West End in SLP. Turns out that co-owner Michael McDermott’s father founded Chi-Chi’s in the 1970s. Thus began a celebration of food. Er, of watered down salsa, rubbery mozzarella, and corn-flake-encrusted ice cream. At least that’s how I remember the “Mexican” cuisine of my youth.
According to McDermott’s business partner Jason Merritt, however, nothing from Chi Chi’s menu was resurrected for Rojo. There’s still salsa, but man is it good. Chunky and fresh and clean. Be sure to ask for the verde, the creamiest, most addicting rendition of the spicy-tart-herby green blend I’ve ever had. I nearly picked up the little bowl and swigged it like soup. Next: a corn-on-the-cob appetizer that would’ve been perfect swathed in butter and ancho chili powder, but Rojo then schmears those poor cobs with aioli and rolls them in Cotija cheese. Did I say I wasn’t going to talk about State Fair food? I lied.
After I scraped 1000 excess calories off my corn, I ate every kernel. And moved on to the tacos that have haunted my dreams ever since: charred snapper, chipotle mayonnaise, and sweet cabbage slaw on corn tortillas (though you may opt for the house-made flour version). Gah. So fresh and savory and sweet and crunchy and soft. I couldn’t put my finger on why the super-light slaw tasted so nutty and complex until I peered closer and saw a smattering of caraway seeds. Turns out that I am cuckoo for caraway, and they totally make the meal. Unless you count the fried ice cream, which took me right back to Chi Chi’s. In a good way.
Rojo Mexican Grill
1602 West End Blvd.â€¨, St. Louis Park