Family-owned Casa Amigos restaurant features extensive menu options.
Taking the place of a beloved community restaurant is never easy, but the owners of Casa Amigos didn’t shy away from the challenge when they opened their latest restaurant in the former Scotty B’s space this winter. For owners Luis and Heidi Ortiz, opening Casa Amigos was the culmination of a multiyear search to find a building for their restaurant in the Mound area. “I really like this area,” Luis Ortiz says. “We tried to open a restaurant for three to four years, and finally, we found a spot.”
Casa Amigos quickly slipped into the Scotty B’s location in the Mound Marketplace Shopping Center after owners Scott Bjorlin and Scott Price announced their intention to retire from the restaurant in December 2022. For many, it was the end of an era as Scotty B’s had operated at that location for over two decades.
For the Ortiz’s, it was the chance to bring their Mexican food to the Mound community. “This is our seventh location,” Ortiz says. They also operate Mexican restaurants in Becker, Coon Rapids, Elk River, Maple Grove, Rogers and Thief River Falls.
Ortiz says he and Heidi have worked in Mexican restaurants for the last 15 years. “It was my first job,” he says. “I like the people. I like the industry. It makes me happy.” He goes on to say, “It’s stressful but fun. I don’t see myself doing another job.”
Ortiz says there has been a lot of interest in their restaurant since they took over the space, including several curious onlookers who came in to check out the remodel as they worked to ready for the opening. “People have been very welcoming to us. They have been very friendly,” he says. “At the moment, we’re doing great.”
As with many restaurants, there are plenty of challenges. Ortiz has concerns that the existing Casa Amigos restaurant space is too small. As of the writing of this article, they are working with the city to see about adding patio space to expand their seating options during warmer weather. But the biggest hurdles to overcome at the moment are staffing and skyrocketing food prices. He believes that those issues may eventually force the restaurant industry to change. “I would have to downsize,” Ortiz says. “No wait staff, no servers [and] more of a fast-food environment.”
For now, Ortiz is focused on doing what they do well—serving up good Mexican food to their customers. The Casa Amigos menu is extensive and includes everything one would expect to find at a Mexican restaurant from guacamole and queso to tacos and enchiladas to tamales and fajitas.
Among the most popular dishes is the Quesa Birria Tacos with corn tortillas, filled with slow cooked beef, cheese, onion and cilantro, grilled to a golden brown and served with consommé for dipping. The Pollo Azteca is another favorite, featuring chicken breast with shrimp and vegetables topped with cheese sauce and served with rice, beans and tortillas.
But Ortiz says that few dishes can beat the Carne Asada, which includes a rib-eye steak, topped with grilled onions and jalapeño and served with rice, beans, pico de gallo and tortillas. “The plate has so much color. It looks pretty fancy,” he says. “When you see it, you want to eat it.”
Ortiz hopes that their attention to detail and commitment to quality shows in their food. “We make everything from scratch,” he says. “We try to do everything very well.”
Visitors will also notice a sprinkling of names among the dishes on offer, from Isabella’s Fries and Alexander’s Burrito to Isaiah’s Platter and Matias Fajitas. “Those are my kids,” says Ortiz, proudly. “We like to incorporate them into the menu.”
Though the children are still too young to work at their restaurants, Ortiz says they are chomping at the bit to join their parents in the family business. “They are ready right now,” he says, noting that they love coming in to the restaurants and helping the hostess clean the menus. “My oldest, she says she wants to be the chip girl,” Ortiz says. “I would love to see them follow us into the restaurant business.”