17 East 26th street Minneapolis, MN 55408
When I first moved to Minneapolis I was eager to quickly become integrated with the local scene, so I made it a point to try and be in attendance at nearly every Hip Hop event that was happening. I frequented places like Loring Pasta Bar, Dinkytowner, 7th Street Entry, and a multitude of other spots. Probably the only place that I went to more often, besides work and home, was Little Tijuana. That special place off 26th and Nicollet could be represented in a simple mathematic equation: Good Food + Late Hours + Fun People = The Place To Keep The Party Alive Just a Bit Longer.
When that dreaded 2 AM hit and we were told, physically or subliminal, “you don’t have to go home, but you have to leave here” by whichever venue providing our Hip Hop fix for the evening, it was virtually a reflex to know where the next logical step in our nightly adventure would lead. We would crew up and head over to Little T’s. Sometimes during that post-bar rush there would be lines out the door where you would likely run into other people from the same spot you just left or perhaps find out from others in line what party or event you might have missed.
When the wait was over and you were led to your table, there was a good chance someone in your group was going to suggest a nice large bowl of Fried Chips or maybe French Fries, perhaps both. For the main eats, I never needed to spend too much time looking at the menu. I generally had a few things that I would interchangeably make my feast of choice; veggie tacos, veggie enchiladas, or the combo meal of the two when the need called for both.
Truth be told, a Little T’s adventure was sometimes nearly as much about the ambiance as the food. The lovely staff was always entertaining or interesting…often both. Of course, one of the other famous perks was their tear-off paper table-dressings with a tub of crayons in arms reach that resulted in all sorts of late nite and/or drunken art projects. As for me, my art skills have not advanced since the 3rd grade. In fact, they may have dwindled, but they didn’t stop me from repeatedly recreating my badly drawn “alligator with the boom box on his back, walking on water with his friend bird, who sung along to the music with his floating microphone…” If it sounds nonsensical and all a bit ridiculous, that is simply because it is. For some reason when I sat down there for the first time, recognizing that I hadn’t drawn anything in quite some time, I tried to determine what I might be able to draw that was slightly above embarrassing* and that’s the four images I came up with so I created that collage concept…and have ran with it every since.
In any event, Little T’s is a neighborhood icon with a loyal fan base, including myself, who had been missing its presence during the remodeling process that was a long time in the making. On Labor Day they had their first official opening. I wasn’t even aware that was the launch day, though I did know it was coming soon. I was just walking down the street and saw a gathering of people ahead on 26th Street and my salivary glands immediately became active. Even though I just finished dinner I still contemplated eating. Quickly realizing that was a bit preposterous, I decided I’d just peek my head in and look around.
The new space has definitely made some clearly noticeable improvements, without altering the original vibe of the restaurant, but results in making better use of the space. The biggest addition is the inclusion of a full bar in the back room. I actually stopped by last night for a meal and at a glance the menu looked the same. I felt like there were some new items, but perhaps they were things I just don’t remember since I always focused my attention on one part of the menu. The food tasted exactly the same and immediately conjured memories of great days not so far in the past. I was a bit rusty in my Little T’s meal enhancements, so I neglected to order the pico de gallo to dump in my salsa to give my Fried Chips (sorry diet) that extra kick. I also forgot the side of Enchilada Gravy for my Tacos that add a refining touch. Self-noted for the next go-round…
They are still building the staff up, so for now they are just doing dinner hours from 5 PM till 2 AM (NOTE: they now close at 2 and not 3!), but according to their Facebook Page they will soon be open for lunch also.
Since I recently moved back to the neighborhood, living even closer than I did before, I’ve walked by a few times this week to always see the place full of happy people and great energy. Welcome back Little T’s, I look forward to good food, engaging conversations and badly drawn (by my own hand) pictures…
Written By Kevin Beacham
*Thought I came up with a drawing, rather or not it is above embarrassing is certainly highly questionable. Since my image is probably odd to envision I have quickly created a life-like replica for your viewing amusement…