Meet Me in Mexico

It can be hard to get my two young boys to try new foods. So when I got an “awesome” and a “20 thumbs up” from them after eating goat and tongue, I knew I had to tell you about it.

Andale Taqueria y Mercado is an exciting and delicious addition to Richfield, just north of 494 on Nicollet Avenue, not far from Mall of America and the airport.

It’s cheap, it’s flavorful—and you don’t even have to eat beef tongue or pork stomach if you don’t want to (although you really should try the stomach tacos; they are truly fantastic).

The counter-service menu is enormous. The burritos make Chipotle look like a Weight Watchers outpost, and one of the tortas (a Mexican sandwich) comes with breaded steak, chorizo, ham, and, I kid you not, sliced hot dogs.

But the tacos are what really make Andale special. Since they’re all under $2, you can (and should) mix and match to find your favorite. That said, I have three you really need to try. First, the al pastor. It’s stuffed with marinated pork that’s been sitting on a spit behind the counter like gyro meat would at a Greek restaurant. It’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a smoky spice to it.

Next up: the chorizo. Cooked to order, its freshly grilled char really brings out the flavor of the meat.

Now you’re ready for the goat. It’s slow-cooked and braised with so much love you can taste it: tender, a little fatty, with an interesting hint of mint. Andale only offers it as a special, so go on the weekends and cross your fingers that you’re able to experience the “20 thumbs up” phenomenon, as described by my son.

The adjoining market has hard-to-find chilis, a full meat selection, and a pretty good Mexican bakery. The flaky orejas pastries were especially tasty.

Not all is perfect at Andale, however. The consistency of the cornmeal in the tamales was too mushy. We had some ordering mix-ups: instead of beef-brisket Alambres (a nachos-like dish with corn tortillas instead of chips) we were given pork; our ham-and-cheese quesadilla didn’t have ham. I think next time I’ll use the Spanish names.

Also, food this delicious deserves to be served on something other than Styrofoam.

Still, there’s a reason my kids had such high praise for Andale: the environment is welcoming, the food is delicious, and the experience of the mercado gave us all a taste of Mexico—in Richfield.

Andale Taqueria y Mercado, 7700 Nicollet Ave. S., Richfield, 612-259-8868

Jason Derusha is a reporter for WCCO-TV.