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First look: Centro at Popol Vuh brings cheap Mexican eats and hot-pink drinks to Northeast

An old adhesive factory in NE has been reborn in a big way.

An old adhesive factory in NE has been reborn in a big way. Jerard Fagerberg

There's a beautiful Mexican phrase for a person who's absolutely shitfaced: "You're as drunk as 400 rabbits."

The colorful coney-ism comes from Ancient Aztec mythology -- specifically, the story of Mayahuel, the Goddess of the Maguey plant (which produces agave and mezcal), and Patecatl, the God of Medicine. The pair had 400 rabbit babies -- the Centzon Totochtin -- also known as "the Gods of Drunkenness." Mayahuel's breasts produced fermented agave instead of milk, see, and she nursed her bunny offspring, who would later become known for their wild parties, with her boozy tits. 

From left: Ruso Blanco, Guava Goddess Slushy, Indeed Pink Rabbit Pils, Electric Bunny

From left: Ruso Blanco, Guava Goddess Slushy, Indeed Pink Rabbit Pils, Electric Bunny Jerard Fagerberg

It makes Jesus turning water into wine seem... well, downright Lutheran by comparison. And it makes rabbits a fitting mascot for Centro, northeast Minneapolis' newest Mexican restuarant, where you'll want to try so many of the beguiling cocktails you may end up drunk as 400 rabbits yourself. 

Centro is the fast-casual, low-key sibling of the more upscale Popol Vuh, both of which come from Lyn 65 alums Jami Olson (bar manager) and Jose Alarcon (chef). They've transformed a former adhesive factory in Northeast into a colorful counter service taco joint with a big ol' bar at its center (where you can also place your taco order). 

Jerard Fagerberg

Jerard Fagerberg

Prices are reasonable: 32 bucks furnishes a pitcher of margs, and three more tap cocktails -- including the clever Guava Goddess Slushy, in which a mezcal, guava nectar, and lemon slush is swirled with guava kombucha, forming colorful spirals in your glass -- are 10 a pop.

Elsewhere on the drink bill, there's the Ruso Blanco ($9), a Mexican spin on a White Russian with vodka, copa de oro, and cream, and some show-stopping mole bitters. Consider, too, the not-so-spicy Wahaka Flocka ($11): mezcal, falernum, cappelletti, lime, and jalapeno. You might even order a gin cocktail (I know!), like El Vaquero De NE ($10), with ancho reyes poblano liquor and lime and orange bitters.

Jerard Fagerberg

Jerard Fagerberg

On the draft list, try the Pink Rabbit Pils, brewed by Centro's neighbors at Indeed Brewing specifically for the restaurant. (This isn't Indeed's first Northeast resto collab -- they also brewed the Hai Hai-specific Bia Side Pils.)

Tacos are correspondingly creative and budget-friendly -- $3 on the low end, $5 at most -- and include such clever combos as cured cactus and caramelized onions in the veggie-packed Nopales and the Pescado, which serves up a hefty beer-battered fish stick with cabbage slaw and guajillo chili aioli. The Barbacoa, with braised lamb, is a real treat.

Jerard Fagerberg

Jerard Fagerberg

On the small bites side, a $5 tray of chips with a trio of salsas is perfect snacking -- though, in truth, we would've been satisfied by the peanut salsa alone. Tacos are available for takeout, too, if you don't feel like snagging a seat. 

Centro opens Friday at 1414 Quincy St. NE, and Popol Vuh will follow, likely in about a month.

Hop to it.

Jerard Fagerberg

Jerard Fagerberg