Faces of Duluth tells the stories of the people behind Duluth’s iconic attractions, hidden gems and everything in between. Faces of Duluth provides the locals’ tips and tricks for seeing all the city has to offer.
Eduardo Sandoval Luna is on a mission to build connections between people and cultures through food. For eight years, he’s done this as the owner of Oasis Del Norte food truck, and now, he’s expanded to a full fledge restaurant of the same name in Lincoln Park (2401 W Superior St, Duluth, MN 55806). This new community hub will provide authentic Mexican taqueria fare alongside art, music and camaraderie to all who visit.
What’s your Duluth story?
I’ve been in Duluth for around 10 years. I’m originally from Mexico, and after spending some time in Denver, Co., I moved to Minnesota with my wife about 15 years ago. We spent a few years in her home area of Cromwell, and then we decided to move to Duluth to raise our family. We loved that Duluth has a small town feeling with big city amenities, so it seemed like a great community to join.
What is the story of Oasis Del Norte?
I grew up in the kitchen of our taqueria with my mom, preparing food, going to mercados (markets), learning how to pick the right tomatoes, what to do (and what not to do) with each recipe. When I moved to Duluth, I noticed that there weren’t places where I could get food like I grew up making and eating at our taqueria, so in 2008 I started the food truck as a way to share Latino and Mexican culture with Duluth and transport people to Mexico with every bite. I use the recipes my mom passed down to me, and since her taqueria is named Oasis, I named my business Oasis Del Norte.
You recently opened a brick and mortar location in Lincoln Park – congratulations! What does this mean to you, and for visitors and locals?
Thank you! We are excited to be growing! For us, having our own kitchen and space allows us to expand our every day business and also do catering for events. When we had only the food truck, we’d receive messages from people asking if we could do a pop up in the winter because they were missing our tacos – now we have a place for tacos to keep us all warm throughout the year!
We also are so happy to offer a cultural hub where people can come and get good food, listen to good music and connect. We have Spanish speakers behind the counter, we have art from both Northland and Mexican artists on display, and we have plans to add special events such as salsa nights, Spanish poetry readings and more. We have friends not just from Mexico, but also from Peru, Chile and other Latin and South American countries here in Duluth, and we want to build a community space where people can come and feel at home and also learn.
Why did you choose the Lincoln Park neighborhood for your restaurant?
Lincoln Park is a perfect central location for us in Duluth. We’ve been fans of many of the craft makers in this district for years and have partnered with breweries and cideries to host our food truck in this area. Now we are excited to add our authentic food to the neighborhood with this space of our own. The Lincoln Park business owners are so supportive and believe the more the merrier to give customers great choices. We’re excited to join this neighborhood!
What else would you recommend visitors do while they’re in Lincoln Park?
There are so many local artists and small businesses selling unique products up and down Superior Street. I’d encourage visitors to walk the neighborhood and see what they find – it’s a great way to get to know our community. There are also many breweries and cideries to enjoy in Lincoln Park before or after a meal.
Will the food truck still be open in addition to your new restaurant?
Yes, the food truck will be back in the spring, and we’re hoping to make many of the same stops we did this past year to bring Oasis Del Norte to different neighborhoods and towns throughout the Northland. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see where the truck will be.
What do you want people to feel when they eat your food?
With every bite, I want people to experience Latin American culture. I want them to taste the flavors and freshness that represents the culture. The tastes and smells give me goosebumps and feel like a hug from my mom – I want people to feel that, too, and know it was cooked from the heart with lots of love.
How do you think food can help people bring people together?
Food is the center of so many conversations and experiences and can take people to places they’ve never been. We can provide knowledge through food and create connections between people who might not have otherwise ended up in the same place. With our new restaurant, I get to see all the people laughing, smiling, talking – creating this community is why I started Oasis Del Norte.
What do you enjoy doing in Duluth?
I like to enjoy the outdoors with my family – going on walks and spending time by the lake. It’s so unique that you can be downtown and then in just a few minutes be somewhere where it feels completely different and you’re surrounded by nature. I also have had fun trying snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
What do you love about Duluth?
The community here is so open to embrace another culture and learn from it. Everyone’s been supportive and helpful in making our small business successful and sharing our story. The people here are welcoming and accepting of differences and have celebrated the diversity we’re bringing to the community with Oasis Del Norte.