Alejandro Castillon’s Prieto will open on the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street this week. The chef is sticking to what he knows how to do well: craveable tacos and fun drinks, but what might be of note here is what’s been edited out. On the plates are zero sprigs of cilantro, chopped onion, or piles of microgreens.
Taking the place of the short-lived Hasty Tasty, Prieto is making great use of the massive smoker inside to make all manner of taco fillings, from slow roasted pork shoulder to adding a whisper of smoke to the fish mixed with little scallops for ceviche. Underneath the main fillings are a myriad of sauces, sometimes salsas, sometimes mayo based, “which is more traditional in Mexico,” said the chef.
Castillon was the co-founding chef of Sonora Grill, a stand that first opened inside Midtown Global Market before moving down East Lake Street to a whole restaurant. Castillon sold his share of the business to his co-founder in November of last year.
Opening the restaurant became a family affair, with friends in the industry pitching in and Castillon’s sister flying in from her home in Canada to help her brother. Their mother brought back items from Mexico to include in the decor.
The menu is edited down to a few, focused dishes that include tacos, snacks, and larger plates. The chef spent time developing and honing simple sauces like pico de gallo, salsa verde, and queso for refined simplicity. Although he used his modern toolkit - he was opening chef and Barrio and worked at Bar La Grassa, Castillon’s dishes are focused and built to be paired with long summer nights and a beverage.
Behind the bar are basics along with a few specialty cocktails. There’s a reposado tequila Old Fashioned, as well as two spinning blended margarita machines. Sophisticated non-alcoholic beverage options include refreshing cucumber water and horchata.
In addition to the indoor seating, there are also a few patio seats outside on Lyndale Avenue.
Castillon was cagey about exactly which day this week the restaurant would open, but assured us that it would be soon. Those walking by should keep an eye out for open doors.
Prieto will serve lunch through dinner and look for a brunch service to be added very soon.