Minneapolis?

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
misterk
Posts: 88
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6 years ago

Hey guys - I just found out that I'm going to start a new multi-month assignment in the tropical paradise of Minneapolis, commuting back and forth from SF weekly. I know absolutely squat about the city and haven't heard anything about its food culture, apart from hearing there's a lot of Somali food about. I'll be working and staying downtown, where my colleagues say I will never be outside the entire time because everything is connected by skyways. Interesting.

Anyway, thought I'd ask if any of you can shed some light about the city and give any must-eat recommendations. I won't have a car there so it'll be either on foot or cab or light rail, I'm assuming.

Much appreciated in advance and I'll send in my own reports once I hit anything of note.

Cheers!
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

I think there's a pretty decent-sized Vietnamese population as well. There was a bit of a dustup when Steve Plotnicki's Opinionated About Dining book said they didn't have any:

So Angry I Could Spit! Time to Defend Our Vietnamese Restaurant Scene. (Minnesota Monthly)

That and the juicy lucy is about all I know of Minneapolis :-)
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
themis
Posts: 355
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6 years ago

My in-laws live outside the city but are regularly downtown due to symphony tickets, and they are adventurous and do seek out good ethnic food. I've put in an email to my MIL to see what she has recent love for. I have another ex-native friend who splits time between Dallas and Minnie, quite the foodie, and I've asked him as well. I'll get back to you.

I visit periodically due to family obligations; I find the Minneapolis food culture to be on par with ... let's say, Portland. They never got away from the farm there. The farms still kind of rule. And god forbid you ever ask someone to eat an ear of corn more than six hours old. You know. I did just love the market at the old mill next to the Guthrie. Lots of good street food, cheese, flowers, produce; sweet corn ice cream; that sort of stuff. A few photos.

You know what gets me in the mood for visits to downtown Minneapolis-? John Sandford's Prey novels. Those'll help you understand Minneapolis, and how the Skyway can help you get away with murder, faster than anything.

I have no what Dom's talking about, the Juicy Lucy thing. :shock:
SimpleCaveman
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6 years ago

Piccolo. Doug Flicker is the light and the truth. 5 courses for 50 bucks. A steal.
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fennec2009
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6 years ago

Psycho Suzie's Motor Lounge if you want a greasy, delicious slice of deep dish loaded with cheese. They have burgers and salads and weekend brunch too but I haven't had any of that. It's a tiki bar and they have a great patio.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

themis wrote:I have no what Dom's talking about, the Juicy Lucy thing. :shock:
Nothing so unsavory as it sounds :-)

It's just a cheeseburger with the cheese formed into the center of the patty rather than melted on top. A burger with a molten cheese core. There are two places in Minneapolis that lay claim to its invention.
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

6 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:It's just a cheeseburger with the cheese formed into the center of the patty rather than melted on top. A burger with a molten cheese core. There are two places in Minneapolis that lay claim to its invention.
OMG! That's how my MOM made cheeseburgers for us kids growing up in Michigan, and I occasionally do that for my kids too..they love it! Guess it's a Midwestern thing of which I was unaware!
KFrankMN
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6 years ago

Yay! A "far from home" that I can answer! :-)

There are some great restaurants in downtown Minneapolis, however there is a downtown "restaurant tax" (we're still paying off the stadiums that the teams claimed they absolutely needed or they'd never win again ::cough::), of 10%. At the moment, the light rail only goes from downtown to the Mall of America, so it's not the best method of transportation (unless you WANT to go to the Mall of America), but our bus system is really good.

Is there something particular you'll be looking for? I'll make a longer post when I get home and can look up links. I don't have the budget for "fine dining," but I'll check with some folks who do, and I've got a couple of "best restaurant" magazine issues sitting on my coffeetable.

Here's some stuff I can think of off the top of my head though. The "buzz" is all over "New Nordic" cuisine, and The Bachelor Farmer Restaurant (which is downtown) http://thebachelorfarmer.com/ . I've never been able to get a table when I had the time and money, but everyone I know who has eaten there has been pretty complimentary.

The other downtown (ish -you'd probably want to cab it) spot with a lot of buzz has been The Butcher and The Boar http://butcherandtheboar.com/ , but I don't know anyone who has been there to confirm.

Absolutely eat at Hells Kitchen. http://www.hellskitcheninc.com/ . It's right in the middle of downtown, a moderately priced menu of more or less comfort food, and it's really comforting. If you go there for breakfast, see if you can be seated in the "worst seat in the house" (it's a booth by the kitchen), and then you'll get a free salted caramel-pecan roll. I totally crave their ham and pear sandwiches, so much that I'll make a special trip downtown every so often just to get one. Also on part of their all day breakfast menu, they have a porridge that's so yummy you could eat it for dessert (I have). Their pastry chef recently moved her operations up one floor to open up her own bakery (Angelfood Bakery), and it's a good locally owned spot for early morning coffee and pastry.

You'll have to take a bus to get there, but in South Minneapolis there's a place called the Midtown Global Market http://www.midtownglobalmarket.org , which has an amazing food court. A couple of the better ethnic restaurants (Holy Land Deli, Safari) have what amount to indoor food trucks there; plus it's getting a reputation as a place where up and coming chefs start out with small eateries to test their menu ideas (e.g. The Left Handed Chef). Oh and the The Salty Tart bakery is in there too- their pastry chef has been on the James Beard list a couple times.

Yes, lots of Somali food, especially in the University of Minnesota's west bank area. You can take the light rail there. If you like Thai food, you'll be in heaven - we've got little Thai places all over the city, and I've never had a bad meal at any of them (these are tiny family owned restaurants that are long on flavor and short on atmosphere). The Vietnamese restaurants are also really good, and in St. Paul, there's a new H'mong restaurant which was just written up in one of our monthlys that looks pretty intriguing (it's in North St. Paul, though, so it won't be easy to get to without a car) but I haven't yet had a chance to get out there.

Oh, also, if you like your food spicy, make sure you tell your waiters that (a) "yes, I really want it hot," (b) "I mean it," and (c) "I'm not from here." Otherwise, you'll get your food "medium spicy."

Best place to eat in when you're stuck in the airport? The French Meadow Bakery. The French Meadow has had a sidewalk cafe in South Minneapolis for years, and it's always a great place for organic food, vegetarian options, soups, and pastry. A few years ago, they opened a location in the main concorse of the airport, so if you get hungry while waiting for a flight, get something there. It'll be overpriced, like all airport food is, but it's the best of all the options there.
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azhotdish
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6 years ago

I grew up 150 miles north in Duluth - I wish I had more experience dining in MSP as an adult. If you ever decide to do a road trip up north, let me know. It's known as "San Francisco of the Midwest"...mostly for the water and hills, I think. :D

I have a soft-spot for Al's Breakfast. It can be a pain-in-the-ass to get into, but it's a classic.
http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=24958

Restaurant Alma is really good, ingredient-focused, great local cheese plate, but probably not what you're after.
http://www.restaurantalma.com/

I hope you do a MSP photo-journal - I'd love to see it. Go take some shots in Como Park and anywhere near the river.
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misterk
Posts: 88
Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

Wow...thanks everyone! This is a great list to get me started...although whether I visit any of them in the upcoming weeks is dependent on if they're not connected via the downtown skyways (my colleagues have warned me to not even think of stepping outside for another several weeks).

For the most part, I'll be in Minneapolis from Monday afternoons-Thurs afternoons so we'll see what I can manage to get to outside of client office hours (I'll be at the City Center building). The menus for Butcher & Boar, Bachelor Farmer and Alma look really excellent - worth maybe doing an indulgent Wednesday evening meal (which is what I did when working in Portland).

Piccolo I must get to at some point as well. As I mentioned, I'll be car-less so depending on how far these places are, I may be fairly limited depending on how expensive cabs are up there. Seems like most of the Vietnamese joints are somewhat out of reach in St. Paul. :| Haute-Dish also looks promising. Maybe walkable by April?

I guess this means scheduling some weekends to just stay in town and explore, since breakfast seems to be a big thing here (and hopefully use other weekends to explore other midwestern cities - Chicago, Madison, St Louis, etc., since that part of the country is one giant blank for me).

But for now, I'll take this list and see what I can make of it. More suggestions always welcome, and I'll start contributing my own experiences once I have them. :) Thanks again!
misterk
Posts: 88
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6 years ago

Also will look for this aforementioned "Juicy Lucy"...seems like a number of joints in Minneapolis serve them. Who even knew they were a "thing"?
KFrankMN
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6 years ago

I think your co-workers are playing a prank on you. It's not that cold right now. You won't be flash frozen if you leave the habitrai-- er, Skyways. Bring layers - you'll be fine outside.

Yes, January and February can occasionally be miserable (and this is because I have a ten minute walk from the bus to my office) especially with wind chill, but it's currently above freezing, and I haven't been using my winter parka this week. When it gets above 50, you'll see people walking around in shorts.

Cabs are readily available, but not cheap. If you're staying in City Center complex, you're right on all the main bus lines (for example to get to Piccolo, it's a straight shot on one bus, no transfers). Metro transit has a user friendly website ( http://metrotransit.org/ ), which can help with trip planning.

(Though I've heard of them, I've never had a Juicy Lucy... but I've also managed to avoid "cheese curds" which seem to be enjoyed only by people who were born here).
misterk
Posts: 88
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6 years ago

KFrankMN, thanks. :D Funny that it's my colleague who lives in Manhattan that's warning me never to step outside in Minneapolis. As if winters in NY are remotely tropical.

Anyway, good to know I won't be flash frozen outside. Going shopping today for a coat that'll hopefully fit over my suit.

In any case, since I'm the new guy on this team, probably will stick with my other consulting colleagues on Week 1 (knowing them, likely generic bar & grill stuff by our hotel) and then do some of my own ventures in future weeks. I'm always a fan of great ethnic cuisine (from any region), but if farm-to-table is what Minneapolis is best known for, then definitely game for that, too. I remember reading quite a long time back that quite a few Hmong immigrants settled in the Minneapolis area. Have they opened their own restaurants there? I'm curious as I've never had Hmong cuisine (nor really know what it is).

Also thanks for the tip on public transit. Will definitely look into it when it comes to the more far flung dining locations. And as for taking light rail to the Mall of America, I assume I will go there once at some point during this tenure, just to soak in that a place like it actually exists in this world. :P
KFrankMN
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6 years ago

Hmong food... interestingly enough, there is a review of a Hmong Restaurant in this month's Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine. It's their annual best restaurants issue, and is still in the magazine bins (or was yesterday when I was grocery shopping). Whether or not Mpls-St.Paul magazine is the final word in best restaurants for debate, but since most places now have websites, if the review intrigues, you can go check out their menu. Anyway... there's a two page spread on Hmong House, which is in North St. Paul. They, unfortunately do not have a website, just a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HmongHouse ). The reviewer was quite enthusiastic about the food. I don't personally know anyone who has been there, a basic google search of reviews suggests that it's an order-at-the-counter style restaurant with great food and not-so-great service.

Hmong House is the only sit down restaurant in the area, although there are a couple of Hmong Malls, http://www.hmongtownmarketplace.com/ and Hmong Village, which both have food courts that are really popular. All three are in St. Paul, none will be particularly easy to get to without a car (not impossible, but not fast either). You're better off saving that for a weekend.

Also my informal survey netted a couple other restaurants in the downtown Minneapolis area.

Bar La Grassa http://www.barlagrassa.com/. My friend who lives and works downtown loves the place, and he has a former co-worker who has since moved to New York, but comes back to Minneapolis on occasion to worship at the altar of Bar La Grassa.

Saffron http://www.saffronmpls.com/. A food blogger friend of mine raves about this place; it's generally considered the best Middle Eastern Restaurant in the cities.

Also, I apologize for the giant piles of plowed snow. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, but it's not at it's best in March. It will look better in April - they come through and sluice out all the streets once Spring officially begins.
themis
Posts: 355
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6 years ago

My MIL, bless her, cut out a recent article on downtown restaurants, folded it up, addressed an envelope and mailed it to me. Since I am not about to paraphrase and retype all of that shit I will simply post the link. (Which she could have emailed me.)

Re: the link, I have been to Heidi's and loved it. The same foodie couple who brought me there also like to take me to The King & I for Thai food. She's a vegehoovian, he is not, and both types of dishes are bright with flavor here.

Here's what my MIL says concerning the downtown-ish region, they definitely ditto the Holy land recommendation:
Downtown is mostly American/Minnesota food, some French, some Irish/British etc which are in close proximity to Orchestra Hall. South Nicollet Ave. is known as Eat Street with a large variety of ethnicities from downtown to about 2600 south. We have eaten at Christos which is Greek many times as they used to have a coupon for a glass of wine in the program from orchestra. Besides we like the food. But there is German, Southeast Asian, fusion and anything else you can think of. We do like the menu and beer at Andy's favorite bar on Nicollet Mall called The Local. Also Brit's Pub right across from Orchestra Hall.

Bill's favorite which we have gone to for years is The Holy Land. It is on Central Ave about 2600 North and has an evening all you can eat buffet or you can order from the counter and get a variety of "fast food" which is either pita sandwiches or plates. They make the best hummus you have ever eaten, their gyros and chicken pitas are great.
misterk
Posts: 88
Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

KFrankMNand themis - Thanks for the updates to the list!

Back in MN after a beautiful weekend in the Bay Area. Man, it is COLD this week! Isn't winter like over? Walking around 14F temps trying to find dinner is not good times. I'm staying at 7th St between Nicollet Mall and Hennepin, and trudged all the way to Haute Dish, only to find the kitchen closed early because it was slow (I wonder why). No matter. I found 112 Eatery around the block, where I indulged in fired shishito peppers, fried sweetbreads with pickled shallots, and tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs. What a great place, this. Sitting at the bar for one is a great way to meet people. As it stood, I was sitting next to the bartender from Bachelor Farmer, who gave me his views on the local scene and also highly recommended Alma as well as the downstairs bar at Bachelor.

Last week for some meals I found myself at Pizza Lucé (their winter special Creole pizza was ok), Red Stag Supperclub (also ok), and Borough (which was great and worth the long walk over in the deep chill after I discovered Saffron was closed for a private party). Borough indulged me with hearts of palm (with orange, avocado purée, jicama, pepitas, and tortilla slivers), veal breast (with cabbage, turnip, sweetbreads, and mustard), and cinnamon-crusted brioche donuts with chocolate-dipped bacon, espresso, milk foam, and macadamia nuts. I'll upload the accompanying pictures soon, but what a great place. This and 112 Eatery are at the the top of my list thus far.

Will keep exploring, but it's only supposed to get colder tomorrow and Wednesday, so who knows how adventurous I'll be this week. Might be me and room service from here on out.
KFrankMN
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6 years ago

Yeah, it could be warmer this week. If you're sticking to the indoors, you can get to Cosmos (in the Graves 601 Hotel). http://www.cosmosrestaurant.com/ through the Skyway. I ate there for Thanksgiving, so I don't have any experience with their current menu (aside from the butterleaf salad), but I liked what they served on Thanksgiving. Most people rave about their pastry chef - not sure how much pastry matters to you though. Local aside about the Graves 601 - the owner, Jim Graves, almost beat Michele Bachmann in the race for senate, and in her smear ads, she called him "Hotel owner Jim Graves" and superimposed his photo over the Bates Motel.

Or you can just call one of these places and have them deliver restaurant food (form about 100 different restaurants) to your hotel room:
http://www.bitesquad.com/
http://www.fooddeliveryminneapolis.com/

Echoing Themis, Holy Land Deli http://www.holylandbrand.com/restaurant.htmlis good- it's right around the corner from my apartment, probably closer to "fast cheap" food than you want to make a special trip in cold weather for; there's also a good Thai Place across the street, Sen Yai Sen Lek http://www.senyai-senlek.com/ with great curry specials. Both places you can reach by crossing the street from the City Center, getting on a #10 Bus, and riding north for about 20 minutes to 25th and Central.
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olllllo
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6 years ago

Swooping in to give my beer input.

The Happy Gnome in St Paul is worthy of the the G-word (gastropub) if we're still allowed to use that word. Great spirits and wine menu, Cheese menu, Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Brunch and 76 craft drafts.

I wasn't happy with the service at Town Hall Brewery but the beers were solid. Summit beers are everywhere too. I'm partial to Surley, Surley Coffee Bender in particular.
¡Salud!

Rob
BeerPHXation A local Phoenix Metro beer culture celebration and admonition
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sinosoul
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6 years ago

misterk wrote:I found 112 Eatery around the block, where I indulged in fired shishito peppers, fried sweetbreads with pickled shallots, and tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs. What a great place, this. Sitting at the bar for one is a great way to meet people.
112 Eater is one of the great treasures of Minneapolis. I know there are detractors, but the fact they've been open for THAT long must say something. This was before pickled herring and lichen-eating became cool.

112's bar staff was also the gal that disclosed their baguettes were sourced from New French Bakery, which had some of the best baguettes I had in the Midwest. It was so good I made a separate visit to the bakery and flew 3 loaves of it back to Chicago one time. MSP really surprises me in the fact that such a small (to me) town could support 3 fantastic French(ish) bakeries (NFB, Turtle Bread, Breadsmith) while the number of LA's edible baguettes can be counted with one hand.

Driving in a MN snow storm, OTOH, even w/ snow tires, is not my idea of a good time.
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azhotdish
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6 years ago

Found this list tonight and thought it might be helpful.

The Eater Mpls Heatmap: Where to Eat Right Now
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Joel
@azhotdish
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