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Food & Drink

Please Enjoy This 23-Inch Quesadilla From Los Ocampo

The thing is: It’s a really big quesadilla.

6:30 AM CDT on October 22, 2021

Jerard Fagerberg

Taqueria Los Ocampo has probably 30 cumulative feet of menu at their Lake and Chicago location. Every conceivable combination of avocado, beans, rice, and roasted meat are splayed across the back wall—the high points of Mexican cooking writ gigantic. But beyond the menu and the register, floating above the fountain drink machine, is an item too barbaric, too gastronomically imposing, to sit among the others.

They call it the Quesadillota. 

As the “ota” affixed to the end of the name indicates, the Quesadillota is a very big quesadilla. How big? About the size of an average 3-month-old baby boy. It’s unclear when this 23-inch hand-made tortilla stuffed with onions, sour cream, cotija cheese, avocado, radishes, cilantro, and your choice of meat first appeared at the south Minneapolis Ocampo, but the last time I was picking up a takeout order, I saw patron after patron walking out with two-foot cardboard sleeves. That’s when I saw the sign, cast off into a land where only leviathans can dwell: $13.99 for one meat, $14.99 for two, $15.99 for three.

On my next visit, I don’t even bother looking at the wall of options. The Quesadillota is not included on Los Ocampo’s online menu (except via DoorDash), nor is it promoted anywhere else in the restaurant. But it’s been around since the Ocampo family opened their Woodbury restaurant Machete in mid-2018. There, it’s known as the Machetazo, and it’s the centerpiece of the menu. But at Ocampo, the Machetazo is reimagined as a takeout-optimized gameday centerpiece for those in the know.

Because it originated in the suburbs, the Star Tribune has already covered the Machetazo, but I’ll say it in a way that the Strib never would: This is one big bitch.

I opted for the three-meat option, a veritable Noah’s Ark of pollo tinga, barbacoa, and al pastor. After a brief wait, it arrives, delivered in a signature box with advertisements for Machete printed all over it.

It’s alarming how heavy the meal is once it’s handed over. I have to maneuver out the door like I’m that kid from Toy Story with the long-ass gift. I want to lash it to the roof of my Prius like a sea kayak. You’d need a fisheye lens to properly photograph it. Take a goddamn look! (Normal quesadilla provided for scale.)

Where an average quesadilla would come pressed with mainly meat and cheese, the Quesadillota spills out fresh radishes and lettuce. It comes with a whole roasted jalapeño and a trio of salsas to spice it up. The barbacoa is especially tender, a juicy complement to the firm roasted adobada pork at the other end. In the middle, a bright spread of tomato-y pollo tinga. I resist the urge to finish it all, stopping at an estimated 16 inches of food.

Given the quality of the meal and the sheer animalistic appeal of the gimmick, Ocampo could easily charge more than $16. We’re talking about a quesadilla that is roughly the median size of an actual machete (thank you!) and is barely advertised. 

Nothing here makes sense. It just exists, and it’s very large, and now you know about it.

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