Petite León opened in Minneapolis’ Kingfield neighborhood at a time when most people were staying home to stay safe, and restaurants were pivoting to whatever they could do to stay afloat. Behind the ambitious opening was a team of experienced hospitality professionals who were determined to build something new inside a lovely, intimate and initially inaccessible restaurant space. Now, Petite León is open four nights a week, welcoming guests into a cozy space with impressive food and drinks.
It began with takeout, back in October 2020. Inside the kitchen chef/owner Jorge Guzman funneled his experience, including a James Beard Nominated turn at Surly’s Brewer’s Table and memories of Mexico, into dishes that could be transported home.
The bar menu was initially restricted by Minnesota’s liquor laws prohibiting selling drinks to-go. Still, owner and beverage expert Travis Serbus worked to create something special. These two along with fellow owners Ben Rients and Dan Manosack, finally opened with limited capacity for in-person dining in the spring of 2021.
From the beginning Petite León’s menu was built of deeply flavorful dishes that defied pat categorization. There is a burger — a beauty of beef on a bun, Mexican ingredients that leaned into Guzman’s heritage, and artfully presented entrees.
Located on the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 38th Street, the restaurant was last Blackbird, an all-day bistro. The dining room makeover has been gentle on the historic building, keeping the details, but designing a refreshed room with more table space. The high-backed wood booths have always allowed for a bit of privacy, perfect for deep conversations.
On one side of the restaurant, a bar is lined with seats where Serbus, who made his name working at Lyn65, has been able to stretch his skills and serve sophisticated, fun drinks that lean into tropical flavors, like a strawberry caprihlana or a bright, fresh green verde drink that’s made from a mix of tomatillos, mescal, and pineapple juice.
Even as pandemic restrictions have decreased, Petite León remains opened with limited hours, only for dinner Wednesday through Saturday for dining in-person. Reservations can be made through Resy.