I’ve learned abandoned shopping malls are a great place to find good Mexican food.
Back in my Forest Lake newspaper days, I discovered a great restaurant called Mi Casita in the almost empty Northland Mall. Their food was wonderful. The cook poured a special white sauce on everything. I would go to Mi Casita once a month and always order something different. The chimichanga was covered in white sauce. The burrito was covered in white sauce. I ordered unknown and unpronounceable menu items and some kind of chicken dinner would appear smothered in white sauce. I eventually ordered everything on their menu. I don’t know if it was authentic, but it was different and that’s what made it so great.
Meanwhile, the mall had two other tenants: A Radio Shack and a gift card shop.
Mi Casita was literally a hole in the wall of the Northland Mall. Like most small shopping centers built-in the 70s, it had one main entrance. None of its 10 or 15 stores had outside doors. But somewhere down the line, a doorway was punched in the Mi Casita space. Restaurant patrons would drive across a vast, empty and badly deteriorating lot, park and walk through the little doorway. Inside the restaurant had four or five cheap, wooden booths, a few tables scattered around the room and requisite Mazatlan beach art on the wall. There were always people eating at Mi Casita, even on a Monday night before city council meetings.
Mi Casita became so popular it moved out of the Northland Mall. The restaurant moved to a stand alone building in Scandia a 10 miles away. Too far to go before a council meeting.
I stopped at Mi Casita in Scandia a couple of times after the move but it wasn’t the same. The white sauce disappeared. The food was modified to your typical, simple Mexican American fare. I heard the owner had sold to a relative. I stopped going. Now the place is called Chiko’s Bar & Grill.
Last weekend, Jen and I dined at a Mexican restaurant in an abandoned mall somewhere in the Twin Ports. It wasn’t as good as Mi Casita but it was good enough to confirm my theory on abandoned shopping malls and quality Mexican food.
We’ll go back – but where? Wisconsin or Minnesota?
Guess the correct location of the above abandon shopping mall and you will qualify for a chance at a free burrito dinner courtesy of Nick Up North. Leave your answers in the comment section of this post.