New Restaurant Review: Woodfired Cantina

Jason discovers the best salsa he didn’t have to pay for in a restaurant—plus Takis on elotes

Courtesy Woodfired Cantina

Inspired by Tex-Mex flavors owner Brian Ingram encountered when he lived in California, Woodfired Cantina may have the best salsa I didn’t pay for in a restaurant. Delivered to your table upon arrival, you can taste the wood-fired tomatoes and peppers in this lively dip for homemade tortilla chips. I’d buy it by the quart if they sold it.


Courtesy Woodfired Cantina

Woodfired is a lot of fun: Takis on elotes! Yes, crumbled chili-flavored Takis combine with lime and queso for one version of this traditional corn dish. The wet tacos featured tender barbacoa beef we dipped in a glorious beef consomme soup. We didn’t leave a single drop behind. The quesadilla found the perfect line between wood-charred and burnt, and was one of my favorite dishes.

Barbacoa taco

Courtesy Woodfired Cantina


Courtesy Woodfired Cantina

But with such a beautiful and enormous wood fire as the centerpiece of the former In Bloom restaurant at Keg and Case Market, fire and char is in remarkably short supply here. More fire! More flavor!

Photo by Jason DeRusha

Look at this fish: thin, dry, no noticeable char. It’s got the hallmarks of something that was mainly prepared earlier and then quickly reheated.

Indeed, speed is a strength of the Woodfired operation. Food came out super fast—in fact, we managed to enjoy all of this in about an hour. It didn’t feel rushed, either. Amping things up will help the culinary quality of Woodfired Cantina match the strength of its flames.

Woodfired Cantina
928 Seventh St. W., St. Paul