La Chaya Bistro – Minneapolis {Closed}


Remember when I showed you this picture?

It was from a night when my husband I went out and I practiced The 50% Solution.


My husband likes to surprise me. He knows that the Twin Cities area has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights. He loves it when he finds a restaurant that I haven’t ever heard of before. In fact, we found one of our favorite “south of the river” restaurants that way.

But this night, my husband drove just 15 minutes to south Minneapolis. {I love where we live!} Before we left, however, I asked him what type of restaurant it was.

“Mexican and Mediterranean,” he said.

I laughed. Who would possibly put Mexican and Mediterranean food together to make a restaurant? He must have been mistaken. He probably meant Mediterranean with a heavier influence on Spanish cuisine.

But I was wrong.

La Chaya Bistro is definitelya combination of Mexican and Mediterranean Cuisine – and the combination actually works very well. {What’s funny is that later that week, we saw Bobby Flay on the Food Network create a sauce that he said was both Mexican and Mediterranean inspired.}

So why Mexican and Mediterranean? The highly skilled chef is from Mexico, but also lived in Southern Italy. You can read more about him here.

One of the things I love about this place is the focus on quality ingredients:

  • Seafood that’s wild-caught and fresh {never frozen}
  • Meat that’s hormone-free and often from grass-fed animals
  • Fruit, vegetables and dairy products that are organic whenever possible
  • House-made pasta, sauces, and chorizo
  • Made-to-order tortillas

What’s more is that the restaurant supports local farmers as much as possible.

And as stated on their website, this is why the restaurant is named La Chaya:

“Chaya is a plant that is native to the Yucatan. It grows in the form of a bush; the leaves are edible and can be used much like spinach. Using this plant as our company name is to represent the freshness of food that grows wild without the use of chemicals. Along with the fact that it grows in Chef Garcia’s native Mexico!”

Because this destination was a surprise, I had no opportunity to check out the menu online beforehand. So I ordered a bit of bubbly and drooled over the options.

The bread you see above looks pretty basic, but is no joke. I have no doubt in my mind that it was one of Rob’s favorite bread baskets ever. I can’t tell you what makes this bread different than others. You’ll just have to try it for yourself!

We started with the Oyster Mushrooms Sautéed with Garlic and Guajillo Chili served with Grilled Bread:

Sometimes I have trouble remembering to take a picture before we dig in!

I wanted to order this because the description reminded me of tapas I’d had in Barcelona, Spain. However, the guajillo chilies gave this dish a unique flavor with just the right amount of heat. I don’t know that I’ve ever had guajillo chilies before, but I can tell you that I’ll have them again! The spice was perfect. I don’t know if that is thanks to the chili itself or to the chef’s ability to work with these ingredients so well, creating that perfect balance. Whatever it may be, I can tell you that this chef knows flavor. This is one place you’ll never find me screaming, “Season It Already!”

Rob ordered :

Housemade Fettuccini in a Light Cream Sauce

This dish is usually prepared with chicken. However, due to his allergies, he asked if he could substitute the housemade chorizo. Talk about flavor!

And while there were several things on the menu I wanted to try, I decided to go with the seafood special: the Mahi Mahi Tacos shown at the top of this post. I just had to have the made-to-order tortillas! While I could only finish one {after a piece of bread and the sautéed mushrooms on grilled bread appetizer}, I was a little nervous about boxing it up to go:

How would this taste the next day? Turns out, it didn’t need any reheating. The fish, salsa, cilantro and tortilla were perfectly fine cold and the guacamole had not browned as much as I had expected. It was a perfect lunch!

I can’t say enough about this restaurant.

The quality ingredients, the talented chef, and even the history behind the decor make it something special. Thank you, Rob! We will most certainly be back.



11 responses »

  1. I’m glad I ran across your post at Lazy Lightning. Otherwise I would probably not have found your blog and that would have been a shame.
    I like what I’ve read so far. You have a nice way with words. I’ll be making a point to stop in and check things out here.

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