Popol Vuh, named for the Mayan Book of Life will not return. Run by Eater Twin Cities chef of the year in 2018, Jose Alarcon, it was already closed because of the pandemic, but today co-owner/manager Jami Olson confirmed it would not reopen, while the casual side of the business, Centro will remain open for take out and dining on its patio.
Popol Vuh began as an idea from Alarcon, who originally ran it as a popular pop-up inside the kitchen of another restaurant, where he was working at the time. The concept of Mexican flavors done with refinement proved both popular and exciting. In planning for opening the higher end restaurant, the owners knew that the fine-dining market was challenging, and they were banking on the people’s love of tacos to fulfill the second half of the business.
That is why when it opened, the building housed two dual businesses, Centro for casual tacos, and the more ambitious Popol Vuh to push against boundaries and expectations of what Mexican food in Minnesota could be.
Popol Vuh was known for wood fire roasted ingredients rendered elegantly on a plate. Aguachile, esquites and more became beautiful creations steeped in Mexican traditions, but served as only Alarcon and his team could render.
It was also one of the only places to carry a selection of Mexican wines and had a fantastic cocktail program.
Olson spoke to Mpls/St. Paul Magazine about plans to redo the restaurant space as a new concept and the possibility that some day, in another location and time, Popol Vuh might return.