Is Woodbury a land of giants?
For there, among the biggest of the big box stores, in one strip mall out of dozens, is a meal fit for a titan.
It’s a giant quesadilla called the machete, and it’ll cut your hunger right out of you.
An oblong quesadilla stretching to almost 2 feet in length, is filled with up to five meats or vegetables, topped with cheese, lettuce, avocado and then more cheese. Weighing in at close to 2 pounds, it’s the equivalent of eight regular-sized tacos.
To wash it all down? A margarita by the (almost) half-gallon.
The machete quesadilla, aka the machetazo, from Machete Cocina Mexicana (803 Bielenberg Drive, Woodbury, 651-478-7511, machetecm.com) is the latest over-the-top food to be featured in the Star Tribune’s Outta Control video series. Watch past videos of a deep-fried burger and 6 feet of handmade mozzarella cheese at startribune.com/outtacontrol.
The machete might sound like a stunt, an eating challenge, a desperate grab for social media virality. It’s not.
It’s been a popular dish in Mexico City since the 1960s. But the Twin Cities hasn’t seen anything like it, until recently. Machete Cocina Mexicana (which is named for the dish) has been making its 21-inch machete since it opened in 2018. Its sister restaurant, Los Ocampo in Minneapolis, also serves it. Taco Libre’s four Twin Cities restaurants have been griddling their 18-inch version of the machete with two fillings for a few years.
“It’s not new at all, although maybe it’s new here,” said Julian Ocampo, whose family owns Machete and Los Ocampo. “It’s just the bigness factor. It’s massive.”
Ocampo credits the rising popularity of Mexican-inspired food in the Twin Cities for generating an appetite for more. It has paved the way for his restaurant’s playful spin on the age-old quesadilla.
Machete’s machetazo is customizable, with fillings selected from a list of 15 options, like pork al pastor with pineapple, tinga de pollo, lengua, and poblano peppers with corn and cream.
But the foundation is what makes it a machete. Twelve ounces of masa, pressed on a custom contraption into a yellow tortilla shaped like a surfboard. The delicate dough is carefully transferred to a griddle before being filled and topped by Lilia Zagal, Ocampo’s mother and a co-founder of the Los Ocampo restaurants.
“This is the cool part,” Ocampo said as Zagal carried the tortilla on a sheet of heavy-duty paper that won’t melt on contact with the griddle. “It’s just like an art.”
When the whole thing is warmed through, Zagal rotates the machetazo and gracefully slides it onto a platter or into a custom made to-go box.
It’s a fork-and-knife kind of dish, made for sharing.
And what better to accompany it than a margarita? Try four margaritas.
The Hola Bola contains four shots of tequila, three shots of triple sec, and a whole lot of margarita mix, Sprite and orange juice. The 56-ounce cocktail comes with three straws in case you want to share. “But you don’t have to,” said manager Shirley Medina, with a laugh.
Just getting salt on the entire rim of its ceramic mug is practically a plate-spinning act. The Hola Bola goes for $35, except on Mondays when it’s $20.
As for the machetazo? One of these costs $13.99 with a single filling, or $15.99 for a combination of fillings.
There are usually leftovers.
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853 @SharynJackson