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Good lunch places near MSP airport?

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I'll be arriving at MSP at 12:30PM on a Thurs. We'll (my husband and I) need to pick up our rental car before heading to Rochester, but was I wondering if there are any places you'd recommend for lunch near the airport or in the direction of Rochester?
Another quick question: After Rochester (for a family reunion) we'll be spending a couple of days in the Twin Cities. We are staying at the Marriott City Center. Do we need the rental car? We plan to do some sightseeing (and dining, of course) in MPLS and St. Paul proper. Thanks!

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  1. If you are staying downtown you will not need a car unless you want to sight see and drive around and go to St. Paul as you expressed. Public transportation is not that great in the Twin Cities but there is the one and only new light rail system that connects downtown Minneapolis with the Airport and Mall of America.

    Before heading to Rochester you might want to pop into the Mall of America and lunch at the Twin Cities Grill.

    1. A couple of ideas for lunch:

      1. If you like fish/seafood, Sea Salt Eatery is close to the airport. Do a search on this board for "www.seasalteatery.com" (or use that URL to browse their menu). To get there, take Highway 5 east out of the airport, then 55 north (towards MPLS). Stay right on 55 for about 1-2 miles then take a right when you see the sign for Minnehaha Falls Park. Follow the park road to the left until you see the park pavilion. Sea Salt is in the pavilion...about a 5 minute trip total. On your way out, take 55 south all the way until it hits 52 south. I recommend the grilled halibut tacos and make sure to try the Sebastian Joe's ice cream -- ice cream is something we do very well in MSP.

      2. There's a nice Italian deli/market roughly on your way out to Rochester (via 55/52) called Buon Giorno. It's attached to a wonderful Italian restaurant called Osteria I Nonni if you'd rather a sit-down meal. Buon Giorno has very good sandwiches, salads, salumi and cheese -- I visit often as it's the best lunch place anywhere near my office out there. Take 5 out of the airport but go on 55 south across the Mendota Bridge. Stay to the left veering onto 110. At your second light (Lexington Avenue) take a left and stay on that until you hit Highway 13. Make a right and the market/restaurant is in a little complex on your left just before you hit I-35E. About 5 minutes total from the airport. Then when you leave, go back to 110 but take it east -- it eventually intersects 52 which is the road to Rochester.

      3. On the other side of the airport is Hot Plate, a great urban neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot. Very good casseroles ('hot dish' in this neck of the woods), stratas, breakfast foods, burgers, etc. Everything is very fresh and hearty. Take 5 east to 55 North but veer left onto 62/Crosstown. At Cedar Ave, go north past Lake Nokomis. Hang a left on 52nd. At Bloomington Ave, park and eat!

      1. Thanks for the suggestions, esp. the detailed directions, MSPD. Your three suggestions sound great and would you believe, are the kinds of places I had in mind, although I am open to just about anything. I'm going to print your reply and see what we feel like eating when we arrive. I def. want to try the ice cream and have read a few threads on the subject. Thanks again!

        1. Definitely check out sea salt! The owner used to be a manager at Coastal Seafoods (http://www.coastalseafoods.com) so the seafood is always good. And where else could you find squid ink ice cream? :-)

          1. Another option is Wally's Roast Beef at 90th and Penn. Not too far from the airport, nor too far out of the way for your trip to Rochester.

            Remember when Arby's used to serve real roast beef? Wally's still is. Awesome rare roast beef sandwiches. (Although if I had to pick a "Best Roast Beef in MSP" - I'd give that award to Maverick's in Roseville.)