If you just stumbled across this article, you’re probably asking yourself “What’s a Zanz?” Well, it was originally a Zantigo. Which leads us to your next question: “What’s a Zantigo?” Listen, children, as I tell you the story:
Zanz is an independently-owned Mexican restaurant in Mankato, Minnesota. Don’t bother looking in other locations because, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only one in the world. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Zanz was known as Zantigo, a local chain which mainly consisted of restaurants in the Twin Cities metro area. Zantigo was sold to PepsiCo in 1986. Because PepsiCo owned rival chain Taco Bell, all of the existing Zantigos were either converted to Taco Bells or closed. All except the one in Mankato.
Being a college town, Zantigo Mankato did extremely well. It was a prime destination late at night after the bars closed. So, they decided to keep going. But since PepsiCo now owned the rights to the Zantigo name, they had to call it something else. The name was changed just slightly to Zanz and it remains Zanz today. Same location, same great menu: Taco Burritos, Chips & Cheese, and of course the legendary Chilito. They did get new owners a few years ago, but from what I am told, they have wisely decided to make only minimal changes.
By the way, Zantigo rose from the ashes in the early 2000s. A former manager saved all the old recipes and other essentials. After the non-compete with PepsiCo expired, he and his brother began opening new Zantigo restaurants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. But that’s another Drew story for another day. In the meantime, if you’re ever near Mankato, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at Zanz. There’s nothing else like it!