Xavi Restaurant's Haute-Yet-Affordable Cuisine

The new Lake Nokomis restaurant is hard to pronounce, but easy to love for Jason and Joy

Each month, in our restaurant rumble conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers review two restaurants and pick a winner.

Joy: The owners of Xavi sure didn’t pick a name that’s easy to pronounce—chef and co-owner Michael Agan suggested I channel Sean Connery and say, “JZHA-vay.” Then I started doing a SNL-style Celebrity Jeopardy bit and proceeded to make everyone within earshot cringe.

Jason: Xavi is near Lake Nokomis, in a strip mall next to a tattoo parlor and a Kowalski’s, with a view of a softball field. It’s very much a south Minneapolis neighborhood spot.

Joy: I just wish the room reflected the personality of the restaurant. Everything is dark and minimally adorned. It looks like a strip mall restaurant. Meanwhile, the food is anything but conformist.

Jason: The beef tartare was a cool dish. It’s served on three rye crostinis and topped with cabbage slaw and mustard seeds, like a raw-beef Reuben.

crispy chicken, xavi restaurant, restaurant rumble, food, jason and joy
Crispy Chicken

Photos by TJ Turner

Joy: Crudo has been showing up on new restaurant menus all over town and I finally found the version I’ve been waiting for. At Xavi, raw is truly an art: Tender scallops are cut into coins, topped with salty seabeans, and set atop a pool of tarragon-flavored oil. Each bite was a perfect composition of salty, sweet, savory—and hoo-mommy was it a beauty!

Jason: The grilled lamb ribs were another hit: a combination of perfect smoke, tender meat, and bright cilantro sauce with chunks of mango.

Joy: The Chinese spice–dusted pork belly served with watermelon is an homage to the famous version at New York City’s Fatty Crab. I might actually like this one better. It’s succulent, savory, fresh, and crisp. The only small plate I didn’t like was the shrimp and grits, which tasted like sodden Corn Pops.

king trumpet mushrooms, crudo, xavi restaurant, restaurant rumble, jason and joy, food
King Trumpet Mushrooms

Jason: For entrées, we really liked the striped bass served with adorable little sherry-braised octopi. The accompanying tomato chorizo sauce peppered with chickpeas had so much flavor!

Joy: Ditto the perfectly cooked pork tenderloin over fresh greens. It hit every flavor and texture note. I wish I lived close enough to pop in every couple of nights to taste what the kitchen was working on—and perfect my Celebrity Jeopardy routine!  

Xavi Restaurant Quick Tips:

Food Sensitivities: Many dishes are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free—just let the kitchen know

Reservations: Recommended

Parking: Plenty of street parking and it’s on the busline

Drinks: Local beer taps and well-selected wines

michael agan, xavi restaurant, restaurant rumble, jason and joy, food
Chef Michael Agan

October’s restaurant rumble pitted the raw-focused, innovative Xavi Restaurant against experimental steakhouse Lou Nanne’s. Find out which restaurant Jason and Joy chose as the winner in the October issue of MnMo.

5607 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-825-6900, xavirestaurant.com