MSP report: wicked long
Thanks to everyone who answered my many questions about Mpls and esp. to Chowhounder John and his wife for the trip to Lindstrom, good company and saved me renting a car. Altho I probably should have had one anyway since MSP is pretty spread out, but the buses got me where I needed to go and walking kept off the pounds. In somewhat the order of eating I started walking down to the Band Box on 10th where the baby burger w/ cheese wasn't too exciting and should have cost less. Rode the bus out to the Midtown Global Market and grabbed a pork tamale at La Loma which was very good (only $1.75). Lots of eating choices in there (our old Sears bldg is filled with a boring Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond). Walked down Lake St. past many taquerias wondering if there were some gems in there. Then detoured over to Crema Café where I have to say the ice cream did not impress me. Tasted the cantaloupe/lime flavor and ended up with a dish of the crema, neither of which were very flavorful. Bopped into the Dakota downtown for a happy hour fancy "martini" which was okay, not ready for food at that point. Later that nite, met a friend of a friend at Ike's which fooled me into thinking it was an old joint. Should have gone next door to Murray's for that but the tuna sandwich w/ fries for $14.95 was quite decent and the bartender was really personable.
Fri. I walked over to Al's from the Marriott and only had to wait about 10 min to sit down for a plate of hash browns (something we don't have much of on the east coast) and a single blueberry pancake. Good stuff and only about $3.40 total. I liked that Dinkytown area. I then rode the bus down Univ. Ave. in St. Paul to grab a bahn mi at Que Nha but they didn't have them and I wanted something easy to carry since I wasn't even hungry. I went across the street to Tai Hoa and got a pre-made bahn mi there from a neighborhood bakery and thought it seemed pretty spicy. I went to eat more of it later that nite and couldn't believe how much it hurt my lips and made my eyes tear up. It was weird, esp. for something pre-made, I had to toss it. In any case, I then rode back to Snelling Ave. and walked all the way down to The Nook and managed to eat a whole Jucy Lucy w/ excellent fries for about $7. It was pretty mellow in there in the middle of the afternoon but I really liked it, just wish I'd been more hungry. I then hopped on a bus that went down 7th St. which had some cool stuff (wish I had tried the Day by Day) and wandered into Mickey's thinking I could force down a piece of pie but they only had apple which was kinda boring so no food there. Then I rode over to the nice sections of Selby and Grand and stopped into Café Latte where I got a great cherry/choc. chip scone for later. I could hang at that place. Tried a banana/walnut ice cream cone at the Grand Ol Creamery and again, it was fine but I think we're all set for ice cream in Boston. Stopped by Martini Blu in the Grand Hotel for happy hour and those two bartenders were so cute and nice, very fun to talk to. No food but after wandering around a bit more, went to Solera where their $2 sangria and $2 tapas were excellent. I got puffy shrimp things and duck w/ greens on flatbread, what a deal (but not as nice bartenders).
The trip to Lindstrom brought us to cute Stillwater and iced drinks at Grumpy's which is basically in a cave. Excellent donuts and baked goods at Rocky River Bakery in Taylor's Falls then Scandanavian donuts in Lindstrom (and many souvenirs with Lindstrom on it). Back to Taylor's Falls for the Drive In which was a classic old drive in where you can order in your car but we sat at picnic tables by the mini golf. Cute place but my hot dog was barely hot, served on a cold boring roll, onion straws were just fair and seemed to be done in old batter, the burgers went over better. But the price was right and I'm glad I went. Later that nite, I met more friends of friends and we went to the newer Punch Pizza on Lake St. and that was quite good but I don't think it's up to New Haven (CT) standards which someone had claimed. My pizza with prosciutto, arugula and goat cheese was good, fairly priced at about $8.95 for a 10" (I think). But all our pizzas came out very quickly and the crust suffered for it, too underdone.
Sun. I checked out "Eat Street", Quang's was too crowded so I tried a new place someone had mentioned for a bahn mi, Lu's across the street. I'm not an expert but this definitely hit the spot for $2.50. Rode the bus further out Nicollet to try my first frozen custard at Liberty, just got a vanilla/choc. combo and that was good. Seems to be a cross between soft serve and regular ice cream as far as I can tell but it was my favorite frozen treat in MSP. Noticed that Bella Notte in the "E block" had happy hour all evening on Sun. and couldn't pass it up even tho I was meeting someone at 112 Eatery later. The place looked very happening Sat. nite but was quiet at 7:30 on a Sun. I figured it would be just little bites of things for $2.50 but the tomato/basil flatbread was the size of a dinner plate and the 3 pork skewers w/ Thai cucumber salad could have made a dinner, both very good. With a $2.50 glass of white wine, I should have been done but had more places to check out. Off to 112 for a fancy French "martini" while waiting then had their duck raddichio salad and a small homemade noodle dish w/ lamb. Food was fine but didn't knock my socks off (then again, I was pretty full). Another great bartender, place was almost full at 9PM and the owners were eating at the bar with their child. My friend got a fruit crostata that looked great but I didn't taste it. Last day I grabbed a piece of pie at Turtle Bread in One Financial, got the blueberry/rhubarb ($3.75) since that was novel (hard to pass up the raspberry pie). Excellent stuff, with a great crust. Before leaving, I tried the lemon ricotta pancakes at Hell's Kitchen on 10th and those were great too. Light and tasty, nice blueberries, strawberries and blackberries served on the side ($9.95). Got an order of their tasty grilled sausage bread to take on the plane (with my Belle Notte leftovers). Passed by many of the restaurants on my list (from The Wienery to Spoonriver) and looked longingly at Peter's Grill on 8th which I'd noticed my first day, big old fashioned place. One new friend said that'd be the place he'd recommend to out of towners (why did no one here mention it?) and specifically talked about their pie. I had to go in to check it out and they looked great esp. the peach. Also sorry I didn't get to compare Matt's to the Nook, get fried Walleye at Tavern on Grand, try Cheng Heng for Malaysian and more. So there you go (finally), let me know if you ever need Boston/New England help.
Coincidentally, last nite I came across Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels show (can't stand her but like to see where she goes) and she did MSP. She entioned Solera, Auriga, Mickey's, Quang's, Caffe Latte, a few others.
Wow! You did all that in such a short time and probably more than most natives do. I myself just got to the Nook this week in my pork tenderloin sandwich pursuits and I will say I liked it. Just wish it were in my neighborhood. Matt's will have to be something to beat the atmosphere of the Nook. I haven't been to Matt's either. In South Minneapolis I have been to Adrian's and the 5-8 Club, the other Jucy Lucy claimant. The Nook is the winner. Don't know about the burgers. I ate the pork tenderloins.
As for Peter's Grill, you did not miss anything. This is not the original site of Peter's Grill and the food is mediocre to average at best. It is a place living off its past. However, you might have loved the old Peter's Grill but that was more than 20 years ago. As you found, the Band Box is another place with more reputation than substance.
The Minneapolis Star today reported that Peter's Grill closed July 1. It may reopen under new ownership by the previous owners that sold the place in 2003. The previous owners were the nephews of the original owner who started the restaurant and turned it over in 1983. That might explain why my opinion was not positive. The Peter's Grill I fondly remembered was from the 1970s.