Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at "Los Padres"

Celebrate May 5th with a fiesta of food at Los Padres Mexican Restaurant.

Food, faith and family intertwine at Los Padres Mexican Restaurant. An obliging staff, comprised of seven family members, conveys a warm welcome. Questions about the English meaning of Spanish-named ingredients and options for substitutions for vegetarians, gluten-free and the like are greeted with patience and joy.

This is a family run business, and everyone helps to turn out tasty fare fast. Get ready for Latin cuisine that tastes like a south-of-the-border vacation. From burritos to carnitas to fish, the menu has more than the usual enchiladas, tacos and nachos, although these Mexican mainstays are all they should be.

The burritos Norteños showcase a family recipe once reserved for special occasions only. Three flour tortillas get the works. A sunny warmth radiates from a melt of cheese, housemade pork, roasted poblano peppers and onions. Cool lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and sour cream make a contrast. Sides of spicy mayo and salsa roja give a pop of spice.

The green enchiladas share the hot/cold presentation. Picture an elated vision of Mexican hot dish surrounded by sublime sauce, melted cheese and sour cream. The green sauce beams with a zesty fresh note: Happy are the chips and tortillas dressed in this wonderment of sauce. Good thing the dish comes with three enchiladas—a perfect portion size.

A wedge of lime, a fluff of cilantro, a dish of spicy sauce—these accompaniments provide harmonious flavor. Even humble chips take on a new splendor when housemade. Los Padres packs a mouthful of flavor in every dish. Spicy? Yes, but not overly so, as the heat is tempered by Minnesota tastes.

And the housemade desserts make a jubilant finale. A jiggly flan drowned in a pool of caramelized syrup goes down smooth. “The food is fresh and authentic—how we eat at home,” says co-owner Alma Moreno. Her husband, Gabriel Corona, “comes from a family of cooks,” she says, and he uses his own recipes to keep the flavors as authentic as possible.

Los Padres infuses its Latin flair into the northeast corner of Cahill Center. Moreno and Corona had their eyes on the spot for years. To support their five children, they’ve worked different jobs around Edina. All the while, Corona held on to his dream of owning a restaurant, a place where he could serve Mexican food his way. The dream came true last year, and the family’s pride in the endeavor shows.

Los Padres is worth a visit anytime—but never on Sunday when the doors remain closed. Religious traditions run deep with the owners. “Sundays are for God and time for our kids,” Moreno says. Devout faith tempers the risk of owning a new restaurant where The Lord’s Prayer graces the walls in elegant script. “Count every penny and say thank you for all your blessings,” Moreno says.

Moreno’s principle is to work for a better tomorrow by keeping grounded today. “We’re making it happen for our kids so that they’ll have a better future,” she explains. One of their children is already in college, the first in the family to pursue higher education. Moreno beams with pride over her child’s academic achievement.

This family makes running a restaurant look effortless. Yet behind the scenes, countless hours are involved. It takes a village to get a new restaurant going, and Los Padres is no exception. The name literally means father, parent or monk but goes beyond with notions of protection and togetherness. Their Prior Lake faith community from the Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center helped with repairs prior to opening. Updates included the counter space, a vent hood and more in order “to have things where they should be,” Moreno says.

“Opening the restaurant was a lot of work,” she says. “But it’s very rewarding when you hear people like your food.”