Northeast Minneapolis’ Golden Kernel: Oro

by Isabella Silva-Biotti

Tantalizing bites took place at Nixta’s Oro, the ultimate counter service masa kitchen. From the countertops to the staffs’ black and gold aprons, the Mexican golden cuisine follows you everywhere you go. 

The room carries a light and easygoing energy as the restaurant plays with a variety of yellow and brown tones to match its kernels and first-place worthy cooks. As you explore you’ll find enchanting paintings and murals created by renowned artists. From the striking brushstrokes of Jimmy Longoria to the thought-provoking works of Luis Fitch, Gustavo Lira Garcia, Xilam Balam Ybarra, and Tear Dayz. Check our reel here.

Oro has found a distinctive way to combine the art of “la masa” and Mexican food with the art behind Latin painters and sculptors in Minnesota. It is the fertile combination of creators who bring the culture together in one space. At Oro everyone has a story and an end-goal that pertains to their journeys. 

NewPrensa spoke with Nixta Chef Gustavo Romero in April and discussed the word Nixta (-mal), which comes from the term of liming kernels of corn to ground into masa for tacos. Nixta’s tortillas begin as kernels of corn, an heirloom corn from Mexico, and process it traditionally to then adapt it to professional restaurants.

When you taste the tortillas, you can tell the difference between a store bought tortilla and one that has been made from native corn. Visitors need to understand that the harvesting of corn and the nixtamalization processes are both an art form that has endured centuries within a culture that revolves around the gold: the corn. 

Cuenta la leyenda (the legend goes) that Centéotl, the mythical Mexica god of corn and of ritual drinking and drunkenness, hid herself under the earth after her birth. Then, different parts of her body transformed into diverse agricultural foods. Hence, the birth of corn. 

Sowing fields of corn is a connection between the past and the present. It is the passing of time that allows harvesters to appreciate the land which corn grows on. It’s creating a relationship with the space it is cultivated and culturally appreciated, forming a cycle of giving and receiving from the earth. 

The menu offers a variety of items. From the aguachile, the chochoyotes (our favorite!), the quesadilla de huitlacoche, to the venison tamal. Chef Romero has experimented and expanded across his dishes while remaining true to the classic ones, such as the carnitas or the quesabirrias. 

Part of mural by Chicano artist Jimmy Longoria in the Nixta bathroom in NE Minneapolis, MN. Wed. Apr. 5th, 2023 📸 Chris Alvarez | NewPrensa

In the bathroom you’ll find Longoria’s art that depicts different faces, flora and fauna. Yet, the bathroom like the menu is meant to capture and swathe you with its recognizable but awakening flavors and strokes.

Oro has taken the time to perfect their wonderful creations to provide the most authentic yet unorthodox Mexican cuisine. We will continue to return to discover Chef Romero’s next steps and future creations.

Hi, friend: Isabella and Chris here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day and eating maiz by night!

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