Get Your Goat

La Huasteca serves goat-based dishes uncommon in the Twin Cities

La Huastaca's lamb and goat tacos served on Saturday afternoon. The restaurant is known for their in-house goat and lamb barbecue.

La Huastaca's lamb and goat tacos served on Saturday afternoon. The restaurant is known for their in-house goat and lamb barbecue.

Grant Tillery

Though Minneapolis is home to multitudes of taquerias, their menus all resemble each other. Authenticity levels vary, but greasy huaraches and chewy cabeza and lengua meats (brain and tongue for the uninitiated) are commonplace. These dishes represent Mexico City and Oaxaca, and their piquancy and fattiness make them a favorite among Americans.

La Huasteca, situated in a hidden strip mall near the end of Eat Street, upends the traditional taqueria formula by offering barbacoa (a far cry from the beef-based Chipotle favorite) and birria, two goat-based dishes typical of Mexico’s Jalisco state. The restaurant quietly opened in November 2014.

Minimal signage and no street presence make La Huasteca difficult to find. While the décor is clean, it’s spartan and dingy; the walls are white and sterile and seating is limited. In short, La Huasteca’s location is a strike against them. Several other small, family run restaurants failed in this space, and it would be a shame to see the same fate befall La Huasteca, since they’re churning out excellent food unavailable elsewhere in town.

Start with the Chicharron a la Mexicana ($6), a calorie-laden take on the Mexican snack-food favorite. Chicharron are pork rinds, and while they’re usually fried, they’re chilled in this instance and taste like the meat equivalent of ceviche.  The gelatinous goodness sits atop a large fried cracker covered in a bed of refried beans and lettuce. Avocado and Mexican cream top off the dish. They serve as a perfect foil to the unctuous chicharron; the creaminess balances the flavor and creates lightness at odds with the gut-busting nature of the rest of the dish. This is an appetizer meant for sharing — eating such a calorie bomb alone is the worst form of gluttony.

The goat tacos ($2 each) are La Huasteca’s main draw, and deliver on both flavor and novelty. Goat meat is dark and gamey — perfect for barbecued and pulled dishes, much like pork. La Huasteca puts a liberal amount of goat meat on the doubled-up corn tortillas, ensuring patrons consume an adequate amount of the delicacy. The tacos are topped with fresh onion and a bright orange chili salsa, which coaxes smokiness out of the goat meat. Though they look small, two tacos are filling if you order other dishes and dessert.

The chocolate flan ($3) is the best way to end a meal at La Huasteca. Flan is a sweet and wet Mexican sponge cake based on a foundation of custard. What sets La Huasteca’s flan apart from other variations is their inclusion of chocolate. The bitter sweetness of the cake layer complements the custard, the texture creates a complex mouthfeel and the glorious aftertaste lingers for a minute or so, keeping the cake’s flavor entrenched in the memory and palate.

The rest of La Huasteca’s menu offers plenty of other gems worth exploring, and it’s easy to do so thanks to budget friendly prices (the most expensive item on the menu comes in at $11). While La Huasteca’s size limits it to takeout-joint status, the few tables beckon customers to sit down and make a feast out of the Jalisco-style food. Take your time eating and do the latter; it’s part of the experience.

 

La Huasteca

 

Where: 2738 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis

Cost: $1.75-11

Hours: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.