Three generations of women influence the authentic Mexican flavors found at Chaska My Love in downtown Chaska.
The restaurant’s amiable chef, Gabriella Bolauos, came to the United States in 2005, following her mother, Martha Bolauos, who opened Chaska My Love that same year. Gabriella draws on her mother’s and grandmother’s cooking traditions when creating the restaurant’s menu.
Martha chose the name of the restaurant as a nod to the city where so many were friendly to her when she first came to this country, knowing few words of English. Martha arrived in Minnesota in 2000 from Veracruz, Mexico, a deep-water port on the Gulf of Mexico known for its beaches. She sought a better life for her family. A son still resides in Mexico.
So it’s no surprise that when you walk into Chaska My Love Mexican restaurant, it feels like a small slice of Mexico, with colorful walls, hanging piñatas, and a huge mural of a Mexican woman bedecked with flowers.
After settling in Chaska, Martha learned her trade while she cooked at another local restaurant. Before long she was ready to venture out on her own. One day, while visiting the nearby laundromat, she spotted a space for rent that became Chaska My Love.
Martha enlisted two new friends who helped her interpret the language for permits and licenses needed to open the restaurant. The local chamber of commerce even pitched in as well with advice and invited Martha to participate in the Taste of Chaska in 2006.
Gabriella says her grandmother was a good cook in Mexico. It was she who taught Martha to cook, and Martha taught her own daughter how to prepare—making everything from scratch—the delicacies native to Mexico. Gabriella works hard to source the best local ingredients, trying to get fresh produce, such as jalapeños, at farmers markets whenever possible.
When Gabriella first arrived in Minnesota, she claims, she did not know how to cook. The teaching paid off, as she is now confident as she fills orders that a small crew of women deliver to hungry patrons.
One of Chaska My Love’s most popular dishes is the alambre de carne, which is grilled beef topped with chopped bacon, bell peppers, onions, cheese, salsa and avocado, all served with a corn or flour tortilla. Other popular options include carne asada (marinated flank steak) and combo loco (a combination dish with tostada and chile relleno). Gabriella says her own favorite is the shrimp cocktail.
The restaurant is also open for breakfast. The prices on the menu range from the $4 tamales Qaxaquerlos (tamales from Oaxaca with special mole) to the $12 camarones a la diable (deviled shrimp).
The success of Chaska My Love inspired the family to open another location, Señor Sol in St. Paul.
While Chaska My Love is simple, the plates from burritos to mojarra frita (Mexican tilapia) bring in the diners. It has a bit of that down-home feel and the staff appears to be attentive and friendly—and will speak Spanish if you wish. Gabriella summed it up with her mother’s expression, “When you do something for people, do the best you can.”