Hispanic Heritage Month Feature: Órale

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 and celebrates Hispanic culture and achievements. Sunrise is featuring local Hispanic business owners to mark the occasion. Learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and how to take part here.

The timing couldn’t have been more unfortunate for Saul Mellado.

The restaurant he runs and co-owns, Órale, opened its doors on March 3, 2020. A week later, the new eatery needed to close due to COVID-19 lockdown orders.

“We were lost,” said Mellado. “We were going to have a grand opening that Friday, but that’s the Friday we shut down.”

Frustrated but far from defeated, Mellado spent “the last bit of money” the restaurant had on to-go containers to adapt to the so-called “new normal.” The results spoke for themselves: Residents supported the local taqueria through carryout orders and today Órale is still up and running, offering traditional Mexican fare alongside a variety of house cocktails.

“The folks around here are super, super helpful,” said Mellado. “We just started thriving because the city was craving something modern like this.”

What Mellado means by “something modern” is a Mexican joint that defies stereotypes. Mellado grew up in Mexico and moved to Minnesota when he was 15. The Minneapolis restaurant offers house-made tortillas and authentic dishes inspired by his upbringing.

“You walk into any Mexican restaurant and it’s bright colors, sombreros. My culture is more than that,” said Mellado. “It’s more than sombreros and maracas. It’s more than Cinco de Mayo enchiladas. It’s rich, it’s modern — it’s forward thinking. We wanted to showcase that in the restaurant.”

Mellado’s wife, also part owner of the store, manages Órale’s financials; Mellado refers to her as the “money wizard.” But her unique background has also played a part in developing the menu, which includes a Filipino Taco with Filipino barbeque, pickled onions, queso fresco, cilantro and jalapeno.

Regulars often bring Mellado gifts, including one who showed up with octopus flown in from Japan. After its initial opening, the restaurant incorporated a bar that Mellado built himself. He refers to the spot as the Mexican version of the TV show “Cheers.”

Órale has also managed to donate some proceeds to local schools and projects since opening. The connection with customers has been the most rewarding, said Mellado.

“We don’t just want to be a business. We want to be part of the community,” he said.

Órale Mexican Eats | 5447 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | https://oralemexicaneats.com/