See more of the story

Popol Vuh, the fine dining counterpart to the casual taqueria Centro in northeast Minneapolis, has closed.

The sister restaurants opened in 2018, and both showcased the skills of their co-owner, chef José Alarcon, who hails from southern Mexico.

Named for a Mayan poem, Popol Vuh’s dinner-only tasting menus highlighted hearth cooking, smoky moles, hand-ground masa tortillas, classic Mexican ingredients and a rare Mexican wine list. The Star Tribune’s 3.5-star review called the restaurant “pulse-quickening.”

Centro, the taqueria with which Popol Vuh shared its space, launched a takeout business during its COVID-19-related closure, and has since returned to indoor and patio dining. It will remain open (1414 NE. Quincy St., Mpls.)

“The Centro model was a much easier transition into COVID world and we are so grateful for our dual concept restaurant. It gave us time to make the decision about Popol Vuh,” said co-owner Jami Olson.

But Popol Vuh never reopened. The team tried to launch take-and-bake options, but “could never gain any promising momentum with those,” Olson said.

The restriction on filling the dining room to 50% capacity would have been too great of a loss for Popol Vuh, Olson explained. “Sure we have the will and the fight, but the business side of things needs to make sense. With all of the unknowns about what the refined dining world will look like in the future, the decision made sense to us.”

More than two dozen Twin Cities restaurants have closed since a March 16 order from Gov. Tim Walz halting dine-in service statewide to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Patios were allowed to reopen June 1, and indoor dining resumed June 10 at 50% capacity.

Other high-profile restaurant casualties of COVID-19 include Gavin Kaysen’s Bellecour in Wayzata, In Bloom in St. Paul’s Keg and Case Market, and the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis’s North Loop.

Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853

@SharynJackson