Los Angeles in Minneapolis for one day. Where MUST I go?
Although it's been a few years, in my opinion you will find the 'essence' of MN in the typical neighborhood places in South Minneapolis.
Places like Matt's, or the Cardinal, or Just Like Ma's.
These are not fine restaurants; they are the equivalent of Phillipe or Apple Pan or the Pantry in LA.
If you want great local cuisine, go to Lucia's in Uptown, 31st and Hennepin. It would be a cheap cab ride or even an easy bus trip from downtown.
Broder's pasta bar on 50th and Penn is our favorite place for special occasions. It's not traditional Italian, but has great homemade pasta.
Fun neighborhood places are Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood and 521 Cafe in St. Paul near St. Thomas University.
I second the nomination for Lucia's. The chef, Lucia Watson, was just up for a James Beard award (Best Chef - Midwest) and does great things with fresh local ingredients. Link posted below.
Also, a correction to the last post: the place in St. Paul near the University of St. Thomas is the 128 Cafe, not the 521. It's another one of my favorites -- but for one great Twin Cities meal, I think I'd send you to Lucia's.
As someone from a more food-enlightened area of the country, I can easily tell you "no." You will not be able to find food, ethnic or otherwise, that rivals an area like LA.
Consider something like Vincent (French) or Alma/Auriga/Zander/Lucia's (local American) for a good meal. Avoid fish (except fried walleye).
First of all, hopefully your trip will be a disappointment and the Wolves will beat the Lakers by 40. However, after last night, it looks like Saturday could be the clinching game for the Lakers. Go Wolves!
If I was here for one meal, I would go to Auriga. As others have mentioned Lucia's is also very good. But I think they are pretty similar and Auriga is better now. Five years ago I would have said Lucia's, but today I would go with Auriga.
I know you said no ethnic, but another good option is Jasmine Deli for Vietnamese on Nicollet Avenue. Vietnamese is a real specialty in Minneapolis.
I used to have a cookie business in the Twin Cities, long time ago, before computers. I remember when Lucia's first opened, early 80's. It was by far the best restaurant around and still is. When we return to the T.C. our first stop is still Lucia's. Our vote is with her for the James Beard. GOOD LUCK!
Restaraunt Alma *****
if you gotta eat in st. paul try au revoirs (french) ****
hell's kitchen for breakfast *****
or else Al's breakfast ****
round here we don't have too much ocean, but we've got great walleye-- on a sunday, your freshest bet for finned food, unless you want to eat at an excellent local ethnic-type that maintains its own tanks-- which reminds me, Jax Cafe to catch your own trout for dinner, & your name on the matchbook covers! then you'd really have a midwestern adventure to take home! ;-)
seriously, hope you have a great time & be sure to recap your dining experience in MSP for us!