Owner and general manager Jami Olson serves Popol Vuh patrons during a soft opening event last month. Photos by Kevin Kramer

‘Refined’ Mexican restaurant Popol Vuh opens in Northeast

Updated: September 13, 2018 - 1:26 pm

After opening the casual Mexican restaurant Centro in July, restaurateur Jami Olson has opened an “elevated,” more formal restaurant next door.

Popol Vuh will showcase chef Jose Alarcon’s French cooking techniques with Mexican ingredients, from hand-ground corn to a mushroom-like fungus that grows outside corn husks, which Olson call corn truffles.

The restaurant is the finer sister concept to Centro, a counter-service bar that churns out agave-infused slushies and tacos. With a four-course tasting menu and unusual ingredients, Olson said Popol Vuh will be its own unique experience.

“(Popol Vuh) is definitely more refined,” she said.

 Photo by Kevin Kramer
Photo by Kevin Kramer

Popol Vuh - Soft Open - ©Photo by Kevin Kramer-42The restaurant officially opened last month in a former adhesives factory at 15th & Quincy, across the street from Indeed Brewing Co. The 5,300-square-foot restaurant features a 65-seat dining room, 10-seat bar and chef’s table that allows diners to see behind the scenes. A private dining room is available for small events for up to 12 people.

Popol Vuh is open for dinner and offers both an a la carte menu with about 14 items and the multi-course tasting menu ($45). Dishes include tuna ceviche, a roasted vegetable course and octopus served with a squid ink aioli in a red tortilla.

“It’s definitely not your traditional Mexican taco,” she said.

On the bar side, the restaurant continues Centro’s agave focus with a wide variety of cocktails based on tequila, mezcal and more. Olson likens the agave program to an education.

“It’s almost like a wine menu. It’s a really, really cool menu,” she said.

Olson and Alarcon are both veterans of Lyn 65 in South Minneapolis. Olson, a bartender by trade, has worked in several local establishments like downtown’s Butcher and the Boar. Alarcon, who originally hails from Axochiapan, Morelos, Mexico, brings in experience from Café Ena and Travail Kitchen & Amusements.

Popol Vuh, at 1414 Quincy St. NE, is open 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m.–1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed Monday.

 Photo by Kevin Kramer
Photo by Kevin Kramer