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New Tex-Mex Restaurant Here Will Be Trans Woman-Owned

When her restaurant, MB Foodhouse opens inside the North Loop Galley in early November, Kristen Martinez hopes to introduce Minnesotans to Tex-Mex food unlike any they’ve ever tried.

She, after all, is unlike any restaurateur you’ve ever encountered: a Trans Woman of Color, forced by a pandemic to take a break from touring with her noise rap band and open a restaurant that’s developed a cult following in south Minneapolis.

MB Foodhouse will have a menu of tacos, carnitas and taquitos–the type her Mexican-born grandmother and mother made in her hometown of El Paso, Texas–as well as rib tips and chicken wings.

“I’m Mexican and Black,” Martinez said, “so you’ll see a little bit of that Black southern kind of culture coming in with the barbecue.”

For Martinez, representation is an important part of the business. “We wanted to focus on having a space that was not in the buzzword type of ‘inclusion’ but in the literal type of inclusion where I’m the face of the business and it’s more comfortable for people that are maybe LGBTQ or POC to come into an establishment where they can see people that look like them.”

Martinez’s band, Moodie Black, had its tour schedule wiped out by the pandemic in 2020.

To make money, she started a pop-up restaurant based out of her home, then moved this year into an unused section of a coffee shop at 34th and Lyndale Avenue South. But without a full kitchen there, she had to cook the food in a commissary in Northeast Minneapolis and drive it to the coffee shop each day.

During a recent trip to the North Loop Galley (she’s a Wrecktangle Pizza devotee), she asked about the open space and was able to strike a deal with the owner.

“We just make food that we love and that we have in the Southwest that you don’t see at Mexican spots in the Cities often. There are a lot of great Mexican places here but they’re not Tex-Mex style. Tex-Mex is very different.”

On weekends, MB Foodhouse will offer breakfast bowls and breakfast tortillas. It’s tentatively set to open on November 8th.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood volunteer


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