Photography by Caitlin Abrams
Costa Blanca in Northeast
Hector Ruiz must be one of the most undersung restaurateurs in the Twin Cities these days. After helming one of our original Latin fusion restaurants, El Meson (which closed in 2012), he has quietly been creating an empire of small Latin-influenced neighborhood eateries, including Café Ena, Rincon 38, La Fresca, and La Ceiba (which was recently turned from café to private event space). His latest is Costa Blanca on Northeast’s Central Avenue, shockingly outside of the south Minneapolis area where his other spots are. In his most stylish, contemporary, yet casual space to date, Ruiz puts up composed and tightly flavored plates on an all-tapas menu. Fresh seafood is one of his hallmarks, which is on display here with the mussels, tinta negra squid ink pasta, scallops, and paella dishes. Add to that a great wine list stacked with by-the-glass options, and you’ve found a sophisticated but casual new spot where the drinking and snacking culture reigns supremo. More Ruiz, please.