Since Maria Hidalgo and her husband, Gustavo, launched Los Potros Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in September 2013, the establishment has been constantly evolving with menu alterations, a new patio, and--now--a new manager.

The couple had been managing the eatery in addition to owning it, but, as it’s grown--and after opening a second location in Windom--they’re now bringing in Gustavo’s brother, Benny Hidalgo, to manage the St. James location.

He’s been in the restaurant business for almost a decade, Maria Hidalgo said, and, “The family is all in the restaurant business.”

Indeed, Gustavo Hidalgo has been a lead chef in establishments all around the state for over a decade, and he’s the head chef at Los Potros. The couple opened Margaritas’Ville Mexican Bar & Grill in Windom May 3, and the patio at Los Potros officially opened two days later.

Maria Hidalgo said the patio was opened for multiple reasons. “We’re downtown, and we like to invest in the community--get tourist and traffic flow,” she said. “We figured the land wasn’t being used, and people can enjoy it more (now).”

The patio also serves as a quasi-physical line of demarcation between the family-friendly inside dining area and an outdoor spot for people enjoying their drinks who may be a bit more boisterous. There is also a bar inside the restaurant, and she said, on cold evenings earlier this year, patrons would drink outside, scurry into the bar to warm up when they were cold, then head back outside. Now that the weather has warmed, plants and flowers decorating the patio have bloomed.

“We only lost one rose; the rest are blooming,” she said. The patio will also have a fountain, either this year or next.

Though Gustavo and Maria Hidalgo lived in Mankato, “we scouted St. James and liked the location,” she said. The “harsh winter” has been tough on business, but she’s hoping better weather--and the patio on which to enjoy that weather--will ameliorate their bottom line.

They’ve also begun offering “happy hour” Tuesday-Friday from 4-6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to close--and all day on Monday, she said. The emphasis is on their “fishbowl” margaritas, which come in either a 45-ounce or 60-ounce size.

New menus were printed recently, as dishes have been added and subtracted, she said. Los Potros now has an expanded lunch menu, but lunch dishes are also faster and more economical in size.

They’ve also expanded the kids menu, and made those dishes available to seniors, she said. “We get a lot of feedback from people wanting smaller portions.”

 They’re even changing the decor inside the restaurant, she said, with artwork coming straight from Mexico. There’s also a hand-crafted woodcarving on the door leading to the patio.

The hours for Los Potros--which means young horses--are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, she said. They can also remain open later, per party requests.

Los Potros also caters, and they can craft food for any occasion, she said. “Gus can do anything.” 

For the full story, please see the July 10 print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.