Best known for his acclaimed Restaurant Alma in Southeast Minneapolis, chef-owner Alexander Roberts—one of the small club of locals nominated for the James Beard Award—also owns the Brasa restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul. There, the focus is on the soulful cooking traditions of the South, the Caribbean, and South America.
“People hear the word ‘creole’ and they think of New Orleans,” Roberts says. At Brasa, he’s pulling from a much broader and more vibrant creole tradition. It’s not well known, but Brasa’s roomier St. Paul location has larger ovens, rotisseries, and smokers that give the kitchen a lot of flexibility. There’s also a big, communal table for groups of 8 to 14 guests. And that’s where the fun kicks in.
You can order up a whole suckling pig with mojo, jerk, or barbecue seasoning. Better-tasting pig is hard to find. The skin crackles and the meat is fall-off-the-bone succulent. (Roberts needs at least 48 hours notice to prepare such items for a group; for really large groups, Brasa caters.)
Slow-roasted goat is flavored with hot curry or oregano and garlic. Ribs and shoulder of lamb are dry rubbed with paprika and other spices and hardwood smoked. Fried chicken is done in the classic style or a Dominican chicarrones treatment, with a lime and garlic marinade.
Brasa’s cornbread is superlative. Along with traditional sides—beans and rice, collard greens, candied yams—there are seasonal and specialty dishes, like fried green tomatoes.
Creole cuisine is far flung. Roberts says, “We’re trying to honor these traditions, that are so much more alike than different, in one kitchen.”
Brasa St. Paul
777 Grand Avenue, St. Paul