Just over a year old, Pajarito’s contemporary Mexican cuisine is still satisfying a packed house every night. Located on St. Paul’s West 7th St. in the historic Glockenspiel building, it’s proven to be the right combination of quality ingredients, superb flavors, affordable plates, great service and a sophisticated, inviting atmosphere. I love a cheap plate of tacos on Lake Street, but Pajarito offers a complete experience that’s hard to find in the Twin Cities’ Mexican restaurant scene.
Chefs Tyge Nelson and Stephan Hesse—both Tim McKee protégés—offer fresh, imaginative takes on Mexican food with a menu that dives much deeper than familiar street food classics. Order chips and dip for the table—the six salsas range from mild acncho-guajillo chile to sweat-inducing habanero. Tacos come in pairs, with each component carefully crafted and stuffed in a housemade tortilla for a perfect harmonious bite.
I’d focus on the small plates, like the braised and grilled octopus, charred sweet potatoes with salsa negra and the much talked about elote-style Brussels sprouts. And the shareable wood-fired entrees, such as tender ball tip beef with chimichurri or the thick and impossibly juicy pork chop with a pasilla chile glaze, are not to be missed.
605 7th Street West
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Photographs by Laura Beibl.