When the first Cocina del Barrio opened in Minneapolis in 2008, Minnesotans immediately demanded more. The popular, upscale Latin/Mexican concept quickly grew to three locations throughout the Twin Cities. The fourth was established at Terminal 2–Humphrey in 2013. True to the original concept, the space features rich, red mosaics, gilded accents, and ornate chandeliers—the kind of place where a vampire might take a Day of the Dead la calavera for a shot of tequila.
The hearty menu features familiar basics: tacos, quesadillas, tortilla soup, and torta-style sandwiches on soft bread. However, most dishes add an extra touch, elevating the meal from nourishment to experience: a tequila-orange vinaigrette on the Mixed Green Salad ($7.50); a drizzle of crème (a thin, Mexican-style, not-so-sour cream) infused with epazote (a woodsy herb) on the Chicken Tinga Salad ($10.50); a pico de gallo made with oranges and cucumber on the crispy fish tacos ($11), served with a small dish of pinto beans spiked with smoky-sweet poblano peppers.
Keep in mind that these are fine-dining portions, not the gut busters that make for an uncomfortable flight. But if you’re just looking for a snack to keep your margarita company (not a bad idea), an order of made-fresh guacamole with just-fried chips ($9) is the way to go. The extra warmth on the chips is a dusting of cumin—the sort of flavor that evokes vacation, whether you’re waiting pre-flight in eager anticipation or you just can’t bear to let the trip end when you step off the plane.