Taco Review: Sea Salt Eatery

Displaying 20150616_144948.jpg

My favorite summer place. Sea Salt Eatery is just a quick 2.5 mile bike ride away and as any patron has noticed, one of the best spots to eat, drink, and relax in Minneapolis. Even at peak times when the line is long and your tummy is grumbling, you can’t be mad about the wait because the food is totally worth it.

This past winter Sea Salt made a much needed remodel. A larger kitchen area to accommodate the crowds and a slightly larger patio area with upgraded seating nestled between the restaurant and the falls. The place looks great! Grab a beer while you stand in line, salivate over other orders that are coming out and change your mind on what you are going to get about 5 times, order, peruse the hot sauce selection (always grab 3 or 4 for your table, gotta have variety!), then sit and relax with another beer with giddy anticipation of your name or number being called out while you hear the rushing of the falls nearby.20150505_153041

This post has been a long time coming because I was trying to try all of the taco offerings before giving my review. Sea Salt offers Fried Fish Tacos, Calamari Tacos, Sauteed Shrimp Tacos, Grilled Mahi Mahi tacos, Bay Scallop Tacos, and Grilled Veggie Tacos. I am going to admit right away that I knew I was never going to get to the Veggie Taco. Sorry for all of you vegetarian readers out there, I am just not going to waste my taste buds on veggies when there are so many good fish options on the menu. And I never got to the Mahi Mahi tacos this year, it was a crazy summer and my afternoons spent relaxing in a hammock listening to the falls took a severe hit.

Let’s review the tacos first shall we?

20150429_195747Fried Fish Taco: These were tacos 122 and 123 this year. Two tacos with a huge hunk of fried haddock on a corn tortilla and a slight drizzling of a thick salsa. I’m amazed at how delightfully flaky the fish is, even after being deep fried. The inside is flaky not soggy and the fried breading has a good crunch without any extra oil. A really well done hunk of joy! A definite 5 out of 5 fish taco! (in all actuality these are a 6 out of 5 because I crave them pretty much all the time)

20150516_142434Shrimp Taco: Tacos number 153 and 154. Sort of a disappointment. With only 3 little shrimps and too much tortilla and cilantro these tacos were incredibly lackluster. In fact, I think it’s the only thing I’ve encountered at Sea Salt that hasn’t been very good. There is just no balance to this taco. Sub out the thick and heavier red house salsa for the corn salsa and a Louisiana style hot sauce and these would be much improved. Also, shrimp is relatively cheap, throw a couple more of those bad boys on the ’tilla and it won’t break the bank. Even some slaw under the shrimp for some more substance would be welcome. A disappointing 2 out of 5. 

Displaying 20150616_150727.jpgFried Calamari Taco: Tacos number 204 and 205 this summer. At the bottom of this post I rate just the calamari. In short, the calamari is the perfect ratio of crisp breading to chewy octopus. It is one of my favorite menu items at Sea Salt, hands down. This taco takes the calamari appetizer and puts it in a taco. The dipping sauce is drizzled on and corn salsa added to round out a couple of hearty tacos. Here is another 5 out of 5 taco for the Sea Salt repertoire! (as with the fish taco, I’d really give it a 6 out of 5 but I have a feeling some readers would get irked about me not following my scaling system).

oFried Bay Scallop Tacos: These tacos came in at number 231 and 232 this summer. A nice trip with my seester and 1 month old niece to Minnehaha Falls is only complete with a late lunch of sea food goodness. I had the scallop tacos and my sister had the always popular fried fish basket. The scallop tacos were decent. Messy to eat and a touch on the soggy side however. Not sure if the sogginess was from poor frying technique or from the salsa soaking through the breading. These had the same toppings as the calamari tacos so I would choose calamari over the scallops any day. But these tacos still earn a delightful 4 out of 5. 

All in all I give Sea Salt Eatery a 5 out of 5 on the taco front. While not all the tacos were perfect, there are enough items on the menu that are perfect to easily make up for a miss here or there. You also cannot go wrong with the atmosphere- outside dining next to a waterfall in the heart of the Twin Cities! How many metropolitan areas can say they have a waterfall within city limits?


Because I frequent here so often, I want to offer a few other reviews

Calamari: (see the fried fish taco photo and there is a photo of the calamari also) This is a go to for me and Chadd. No matter how hungry we are, we have to get a basket. On Cinco de Mayo after I ate TWELVE FREAKING TACOS and he and a friend at a meal also, we still came here for a beverage and got the calamari basket. I still managed to eat a few hunks even though I felt like my stomach was going to explode. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS DISH IS PEOPLE! A huge plate of the breaded and fried little octopi with a pleasant dipping sauce of what I think it a slightly spicy aioli. Not even the slightest hint of rubbery texture that you often get with bad calamari, these little bite sized treats just have to get demolished before the rest of our order. If I don’t ignore the rest of my meal and eat my share of these curly fish first then I don’t get any. Gotta be quick!

Fried Fish Po Boy: The same famous hunk of fried fish as the basket and tacos, this time featured on a nice french style roll with some corn salsa, lettuce, and mayo. Messy to eat yet very filling and delicious! I bet the catfish option would be fantastic as well!

Crab Stuffed Avocado with Tortilla Chips: This was actually the first item I ever got from Sea Salt. I was halfway through a bike ride and was hungry but didn’t want to be bogged down by fried food or a meal that was too filling. It was the perfect choice. The crab and avocado were savory and well balanced. The tortilla chips were homemade, thick and lightly salted. This would be a great snack if you aren’t too hungry.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with Andouille and Ham Shank: It sounds heavy but even on a hot day you should order this. Red beans and rice has quickly become one of my favorite meals and a go to since it is so delicious and easy. This version is ultra savory since it has 2 kinds of meat! This is one of the few menu items Sea Salt has that does not feature seafood so even if you are not a seafood person (and I don’t know how you couldn’t be, especially from this place) have no fear, you can still find a menu item that will be satisfying. Oh, and it’s gluten free for those of you with dietary restrictions.

Taco Review: The Rusty Taco

I was back in the states for 2 days and my lovely friends Michaelann and Eowyn wanted to get lunch with me. We went to the Rusty Taco, a pretty reputable Minneapolis taco establishment.

What started as a taco truck is now a multi-establishment restaurant. welcomepic

Any taco joint will automatically gain points by serving on a corn tortilla, they are my favorite. But in all honesty, I don’t think the Rusty Taco is all that great. It seems like the kind of place that people rave about only because they are used to the basic ground beef with the packet of seasoning smothered in cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and Ortega type tacos (see previous post about The Munch). If you are new to eating great tacos then this place will be good, if you’ve had some fucking awesome authentic Mexican tacos then they won’t hold a candle.

The Rusty Taco has lots of options and upon reading more Yelp reviews after the fact, the fried chicken taco and shrimp taco seem to be the winners. I unfortunately did not have those. I ate “The Rusty Taco”- a marinated shredded pork taco with pineapple (I go absolutely weak at the knees for anything with hunks of pineapple in it, that sweetness mixed with savory meatsies gets me every time), the “Roasted Pork Taco”- sea salt, pepper, and garlic slow roasted shredded pork with pickled onions and cotija cheese, and the “Fish Taco”- Fried (or grilled) fish with red cabbage and chipotle creama.

20150403_144052

The Rusty Taco was pretty flavorless and kinda soggy. Even with added lime and their habanero salsa it was still pretty lack luster. The habanero salsa had good flavor but not nearly enough heat. This taco would be greatly improved with more crunchy. Toss that meat in a skillet just before serving, put some sliced radishes on as a garnish, or even taco pickles. Overall, this namesake taco only gets a 3 out of 5.

The roasted pork taco also left much to be desired. The meat wasn’t too bad but again could have used an Emeril Legasse amount of BAM! flavor. If I were making these tacos I would have used half the amount of cheese and double the amount of pickled onions. As with the Rusty Taco, these tacos only earned a 3 out of 5.

The saving grace, the fish taco. The crunchy red cabbage complemented the fried fish really well, and looked really pretty too! The fish was surprisingly tender and not soggy like some fried fish can be. A little more of the chipotle creama could have been added but all in all this was much better than the other 2 tacos. I’m just sad I ate this one first. 4 out of 5.

images (1)

I would like to add at the end of this that although I didn’t eat it, one of my friends got a ground beef taco. Not sure if it was the Gringo or the Texican taco. Either way, without much complaint, she quietly hid the remaining half of the taco under a napkin and an empty serving boat. I think this was a sign that it was not good.

I don’t want to make it seem like if it is not an authentic Mexican taco then I won’t like it. That’s definitely not the case. Yes, the authentic tacos have been the best so far, but as a guy serving us meat at the counter of a Mexican grocery said when we asked what kind of salsa goes best with al pastor meat, “just pickled onions, you have to let the meat shine.” So far, authentic tacos have been the best because the meat is out of this world and it’s not overshadowed by crazy toppings.

As I mentioned earlier, the shrimp taco and fried chicken taco got the best reviews on Yelp. Their breakfast tacos also sound pretty awesome. Rusty Taco, you have not seen the rest of me. You have a chance to redeem yourself.

Overall the Rusty Taco earns 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

At the time I ate these tacos, my taco count was at 89.