When Cristian, Alberto and Carlos Pinos, the owners of Cahill Bistro, recall their childhoods, their eyes light up with memories of growing up on a remote farm in the south of Ecuador, 75 miles from the nearest city called Azogues. Crisp, fresh water flowed to the farm from a lake atop nearby mountains. The family’s organic garden provided just about everything they ate, including corn, potatoes, bell peppers, cabbage and fava beans. Their parents raised chickens, pigs—and 11 children, four boys and seven girls.
Many of the siblings still live on the Ecuadorian family farm. And we are fortunate that, beginning in 1999, three of the brothers moved to Minneapolis.
Several family members have restaurants in Ecuador. In addition to many years of cooking for a large family, their mother still operates her food stand at a neighborhood volleyball court on weekends. Her specialty is pan-fried, ocean-fresh fish rushed inland from the coast and served with hominy that is raised on the farm. Her children grew up experiencing fresh, healthful food.
With encouragement from several cousins, who had previously moved to Minneapolis, the three brothers made the decision to relocate. They learned English while working in local restaurants where their tasks were in both the back and front of the house. Their dream was to open their own restaurant. Cahill Bistro is that dream come true.
Walking into Cahill Bistro, Cristian will warmly greet you and seat you in the attractive space complete with fresh flowers, candles and handsome tableware.
While he and Carlos are providing their warm and attentive service, Alberto is at the stove, where after cooking others’ recipes during his years in many restaurant kitchens, he treasures executing the personalized menu the brothers created together. Everything is made from scratch from fresh ingredients just as their mother has always done on the Ecuadorian farm.
Inspired by childhood experiences, Carlos is an avid gardener and meticulously grows organic tomatoes and herbs that provide inspiration for the menu.
The brothers’ wives have roles, too, sometimes as servers and making luscious desserts such as Mexican coffee flan, vanilla crème brulée and traditional tres leches topped with roasted coconut. Be sure to enjoy these desserts with the bistro’s smooth, full-bodied Guatemalan coffee.
In addition to daily seasonal specials, the impressive contemporary Latin American fusion menu features beautifully prepared and presented Ecuadorian dishes.
There is something for everyone. Entrées include chicken, lobster, scallops, fish, beef and rack of lamb. The menu takes into account vegetarians and vegans. It’s also possible to make special requests, such as a dairy-free meal.
To begin, enjoy the chunky guacamole made with ripened avocados. It is served atop the bistro’s special roasted tomato salsa made tasty with fresh tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice and sea salt. This mixture can be stirred into the guacamole for enjoying with the light and crispy homemade yellow and blue cornmeal chips, which may make you never want to eat packaged chips again.
Another popular starter is the empanadas. Corn dough is stuffed with either an array of fresh vegetables—such as mushrooms and roasted corn—or braised beef seasoned with cilantro. Both come with the roasted tomato salsa, a drizzle of crema casera—a zesty, lime-flavored sour cream—and a sprinkling of flat-leaf parsley.
A menu favorite is the ensalada andina named for tricolor quinoa that grows in the Andes. In addition to the grain, the salad is made healthful with baby kale, chunks of tomato, slivers of red onions and crunchy pistachios. The fresh flavors brighten even more thanks to the citrus-avocado vinaigrette. To make the salad substantial, add chicken, salmon, shrimp or strips of steak.
Chimichurri sauce—an aromatic olive oil and parsley sauce that originates from Argentina and Uruguay—is used to marinate steaks and is also paired with rack of lamb served with roasted fingerling potatoes, onions and multicolored bell peppers.
If you’ve never tasted tomatillos, you’ll be in for a delicious surprise when ordering the smooth-textured tomatillo soup. The flavor of this chicken broth-based soup is enhanced with jalapenos to add a touch of heat and a decorative topping of crema casera along with strips of corn tortilla chips for added crunch.
Another entrée featuring South American flavors is the filet de lomo—a grilled beef tenderloin—served with tender yucca fritters and black bean purée that also accompanies the pollo apanado, a panko-crusted chicken breast.
In addition to some of the same entrées, the lunch menu includes the Cahill cheeseburger, a pita-gyros sandwich, buffalo chicken sandwich, salmon or pork tacos, and a tasty vegetarian ciabatta sandwich made with a large grilled portobello mushroom, black bean purée and generous layers of tomato and avocado slices.
Every day from 3 to 5 p.m., come for happy hour featuring the menu’s appetizers, red or white house wine, tap beer and refreshing five percent alcohol margaritas made with organic fruit purées, such as mango.
For a weekend highlight at Cahill Bistro, the brunch menu offers kid-friendly buttermilk pancakes and French toast with raspberries. For a taste of South America, try the eggs benedict, made with two eggs (any style), Canadian bacon, fresh avocado slices, roasted tomatillo salsa and llapingacho, which are lightly seared potato patties served with queso fresco. A creative, regional twist on the traditional.
Cahill Bistro, this hidden gem known for its vibrant flavors, opened in November 2017. Nothing on the menu is fussy or complicated, so the quality of the garden-fresh ingredients is complemented rather than overwhelmed. The faithfully rendered dishes are served in generously sized portions.
The restaurant is in the heart of a residential and business area with plenty of parking, comfortable seating and a warm welcome. Bring the kids for weekend brunch, or make Cahill Bistro your new favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner with family and friends. A new summer patio should also make a great spot for dining alfresco in Edina.
The menu and service at Cahill Bistro are highly personal. And these hardworking Ecuadorian brothers offer top-quality food seven days a week. Takeout is available, too, for savoring these Latin American specialties at home.
Open seven days a week:
Mon-Thurs: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fri: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sat: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.