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Unique-to-Minneapolis restaurants

c
christy May 12, 2006 12:55 PM

Can anyone suggest any unique, can't get it anywhere else, you'd miss it if you moved away, places for dinner in Minneapolis/St. Paul? Places I've found that might fit the bill are Heartland, Tavern on Grand (walleye sandwiches) and Nye's Polonaise (quite a range of prices and styles, I know). Or, if there is a particular ethnic cuisine or type of restaurant that you think the city does really well, suggest that, too. I'm just want to have something good that I might not be able to get here (Seattle) or anywhere else in my travels.

  1. r
    rick fiman May 12, 2006 02:10 PM

    Try -
    Five
    Azia
    Cafe Lurcat
    Levain
    20.21 (although part of Wolfgang Puck chain)
    Lucia
    Zelo
    JP

    1 Reply
    1. re: rick fiman
      d
      Dr. Food May 12, 2006 04:48 PM

      Lucia tends to focus on local dishes and ingredients such as wild game, so I think that would meet your requirements.

    2. d
      diesel May 12, 2006 06:43 PM

      St. Paul and Minneapolis is unique in that we have a large population of immigrants from southeast Asia, which means good eating for us! University Ave. in St. Paul is positively loaded with great places. Some of my favorites are:

      1) Cheng Heng (Cambodian) 448 University Ave W in St. Paul. The ambience is nothing to brag about, but it's a real St. Paul experience. Cambodian shares characteristics with Thai and Vietnamese food. There's a menu with photos in case you want to see what you're ordering. Everything I've had there has been great, sorry I can't remember the names of anything though!

      2) Saigon (Vietnamese - but you probably figured that out from the name) 601 University Ave W in St. Paul. Really good pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) and the price is: very cheap! Also nothing to brag about as far as ambience is concerned.

      3) Trieu Chau (also Vietnamese) 500 University Ave W in St. Paul. I prefer their pho over Saigon's, but my husband disagrees. Of course, I'm right! Their bahn mi is not as good as Saigon though.

      1. p
        Plautus May 13, 2006 10:27 AM

        Al's Breakfast. There's anothing like it anywhere in the world. Dinkytown.

        Murray's Steak House, home of the butterknife steak. There may be better steaks (at Manny's, e.g.) but for pure Minnesota ambiance it's unique. Downtown.

        Nye's Polanaise Room. Heavy polish cuisine and a world famous piano bar. A Minneapolis institution, and thank God for the no smoking law. East Hennepin.

        Milda's, on Glenwood Ave. N. Home of the pasty (rhymes with nasty). You won't be hungry again for 2 or 3 days. Milda recently passed, rest her soul.

        Mercado Central, Lake & Bloomington. It may not be unique *to* Minneapolis but it's defintely unique *in* Minneapolis. Many food stalls selling authentic and incredibly delicious Mexican food. I especially recommend La Loma Tamales and Manny's Tortas.

        Buon appetito and let us know what you think.

        1. c
          christy May 14, 2006 01:46 PM

          Thanks! It sounds like I have some good options-now I just have to choose.

          1. d
            Davydd May 16, 2006 06:54 PM

            Here is where I get Simon Cowell like. There is nothing unique to Minneapolis when it comes to restaurants. There is nothing that I would miss if I moved away unless it were to a smaller metro area with more limited choices.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Davydd
              m
              MSPD May 17, 2006 10:41 AM

              Thanks. I'm sure the original poster will find that very useful. Fortunately, unlike Simon on his glorified talent show, people here can choose to keep quiet if they don't have anything useful to add.

              I wonder, in Seattle, where would one find midwest artisanal cheeses which are in abundance and available at places like Surdyk's or currently on the menu at several restaurants including the aforementioned Heartland.

              I wonder how many cities outside of the mega-cities can claim the abundance of high quality ice creams and bakeries as noted in the recent Boston/MSP discussion and the donut thread.

              I wonder how many urban park - restaurant partnerships exist in most U.S. cities a la Sea Salt and Tin Fish. Maybe not unique cuisine but few cities enjoy the amount of urban parkland and lakes that Minneapolis does. Being able to eat a great meal at an excellent price in a beautiful urban park setting is fairly unique.

              How many Hmong, Nepali/Tibetan, Kurdish and Nigerian restaurants does Seattle have? How about most cities?

              Yes, as a whole, MSP lacks many things that other cities offer, and there are few ingredients unique to our area. Moving away from here wouldn't be the death sentence of a chowhound. But there is certainly enough here to intrigue a visitor from Seattle or any other city for a couple of days, be it cuisine alone or experiencing excellent non-unique food while taking in the relaxed Midwest pace and lifestyle at the same time.

              1. re: MSPD
                c
                christy May 17, 2006 12:44 PM

                I do realize the MSP isn't Paris, or New York, or SF. But, most everyplace has something unique and good-For example, I very much look forward to visiting my boyfriend's mom in Iowa City just for the hamburgers and atmosphere at Hamburg Inn. So, great homemade ice cream, pierogies at a supper club, or fried walleys sandwiches at a pub, sounds fun to me.

                1. re: christy
                  m
                  MSPD May 17, 2006 01:57 PM

                  Amen. By the way, when you're done at Nye's, head across the street and check out Kramarczuk's. They have some great eastern European food in their cafeteria line. Then up one block north to Surdyk's, a top wine place with cheeses and other good stuff. That's a great neighborhood for chow and shopping.

                2. re: MSPD
                  k
                  KTFoley May 17, 2006 07:38 PM

                  Don't forget the influences of our Somali and Russian neighbors!

                  1. re: MSPD
                    s
                    Stan Sesser Jun 16, 2006 12:59 PM

                    Davydd -- Are there really Hmong, Kurdish and Nigerian restaurants in Minneapolis? Any of them any good? Can you give me their names (and addresses and phone numbers if you have it?)
                    Thanks, Stan

                    1. re: Stan Sesser
                      m
                      McGeary Jun 16, 2006 02:25 PM

                      I know some that fit the bill in St. Paul!

                      Hmong: Foodsmart, 544 University Avenue West, (651) 665-9105
                      Kurdish: Babani's, 544 St. Peter St., (651) 602-9964

                      Don't know about Nigerian, but there's a Ghanian place on University Ave -- see linked Chowhound post below for more info. Kenkayba's Place, 864 University Ave., (651) 762-9451.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                3. c
                  cooknKate Jun 28, 2006 02:09 PM

                  There's a wonderful Nepalese restaurant on Grand Ave, right across from the Kowlaskis although the cross street name is not known.

                  For wonderful Chinese food, you can't beat The Village Wok in Stadium Village on the U of M campus.

                  And after Nye's, Kramarczuks and Surdyks, if you're hungry again you can cross the street and grab a great pizza at Pizza Nea.

                  1. e
                    equinoxranch Dec 29, 2009 06:25 AM

                    Do the unthinkable, violate the ignoramus status quo nuveau "Minnesotan" hipster nonsense and simply go to Nyes.

                     
                    6 Replies
                    1. re: equinoxranch
                      jfood Dec 29, 2009 04:32 PM

                      OK Eq, jfood read and would give Nye a try, but he would write a review (against your other post) without working in BOH. Deal?

                      What should he order? Should he sit at the bar oir tabke for the true experience? Old or New side?

                      1. re: jfood
                        b
                        BigE Dec 30, 2009 05:39 AM

                        The food at Nye's is well, not what they're known for. If you go there, go for the ambiance and maybe a drink or two. After that, go a few blocks north to the old standby Brasa.

                        1. re: BigE
                          jfood Dec 30, 2009 07:13 AM

                          jfood does not dink and the food and ambience not good is a formula for a pizza from Nea or a couple of sandwiches from brasa as takeaway to the hotel.

                          1. re: jfood
                            s
                            soupkitten Dec 31, 2009 06:39 AM

                            i agree with BigE. nye's is an old-fashioned, ethnic-polish, nordeast, supper club/cocktail lounge. a place to get four jumbo martinis so you can stomach the elderly live piano bar lounge singers. the food is notable mostly for classic execution, large portion size and the accompanying old-fashioned relish plate-- it's quite edible but not stellar, and it's surprisingly expensive. nye's is a very good stop on a bar hop--you're liable to get drunk and wind up dancing to live polka music-- and is a venerable nordeast institution, but it's not a place i'd run to on payday for a good meal, esp with alma and brasa so handy. knowing that Jfood does not drink, i don't think nye's is a great rec for Jfood.

                            nye's has gotten a lot of national press from "men's magazines" for the huge alcoholic drinks, kitch atmosphere (though i believe they finally redid the bathrooms, kind of a pity, that--), geriatric waitresses (didja know that nye's hires *only* female waitstaff and *only* male bar-staff--i've no idea how they get away w/ it), polka band and piano bar. the glittery booths and wood paneling are right out of a coen bros movie and make a great photo spread, apparently. unfortunately it means nye's has become something of a stealth tourist trap--lots of out-of-town visitors seem to make (and be dead-set on making) nye's their one-night dinner stop. then that's what they think msp dining is all about. i used to try to talk them out of it but lately i like to stand back and watch what happens.

                            now, if Jfood were a fan of old-school supper club food and atmosphere, jax cafe in nordeast, or mancini's in st. paul offer a similar experience and old-fashioned menus and service, and arguably significantly better food, with the kitch factor dialed down significantly--but not entirely :)

                            1. re: soupkitten
                              Foureyes137 Dec 31, 2009 06:56 AM

                              Wow...soupkitten nailed it, she is 100% correct.

                              1. re: soupkitten
                                jfood Dec 31, 2009 11:59 AM

                                jfood bows at the waist and thanks the soupkitten.

                                Happy holidays

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