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Minneapolis--without kids

I too will be in Minneapolis in early October for a conference, but will be with a group of chowish adults. Our conference is at the convention center, and we are staying at the Radisson Plaza, but we are willing to travel for good food.

I'm looking for recs for restaurants, and also for specific dishes--I have not been to Minneapolis but I'm from Michigan and I assume the freshwater fish is excellent. What else?!

Many thanks!

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  1. What sort of dining experience are you looking for? Formal, casual?

    How much are you looking to spend?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mill City Modern

      Not very helpful, I know, but we could go either way. Probably an easygoing atmosphere, though, since we'll be at a conference all day. Not terribly concerned about cost, although super-expensive restaurants would probably not be ideal in terms of atmposphere (and we probably won't have many hours to spend on a relaxed dinner).

      If there are enclaves of good ethnic restaurants, I'd be interested in those as well.


    2. Everyone loves 112 Eatery, and I think you have enough lead time to make a reservation. It is relatively close to downtown and may have the best buzz of any restaurant in the Twin Cities.


      1 Reply
      1. re: AliceS

        112 eatery is great! (i would recommend their bacon & egg sandwich with harissa sauce...sometimes i still get cravings for it.) cafe brenda is another favorite of mine. i haven't lived in minneapolis in over a year, so i'm not familiar with the new restaurants, but i would highly recommend either. la belle vie is wonderful & spendy. it made the top 50 restaurants in the US list in gourmet, but i don't know if that actually means anything. i don't think it should be in the top 50, but it is a top minneapolis restaurant.

        cafe zander in st. paul was memorable as well. good luck!

      2. Unfortunately, the search function in this new web site format doesn't work very well, or you could have found tons of recs for our fair downtown. This is one recent thread but for someone with a chowpup in tow: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        You'll be near Nicollet Mall, with the Dakota Jazz Club (live music and good food), The Local (great Irish pub), Murray's Steakhouse (constant debate between this and Manny's), Ike's (supperclub/diner ambience, retro-hip), McCormick & Schmick's (small plates at happy hour).

        It's a easy hoof over to the warehouse district with 112 Eatery (fave rave of most Mpls 'hounds), Cafe Brenda (organic/free range/veggie), Nami Sushi (hip space, great sushi), Origami Sushi (very quirky sushi options), and D'Amico Cucina (high-end Italian with things like heirloom caprese).

        And a stroll west on Hennepin will take you to Solera for tapas.

        If your peeps want more of a mainstream experience and are less concerned about houndiness, you are also near Buca di Beppo's flagship on Harmon St. Massive quantities of adequate red sauce Italian in a great party ambience. Ask to sit in the Pope Room!

        Good luck and enjoy your visit!

        1. An ethnic highlight has to be Nye's Polonnaise. Polish food, long tables with families, sing-along at the piano late at night, moderate prices. The restaurant has been around forever. A real classic!

          1. Chambers Kitchen, at 9th or 10th and Hennepin, in the new Chambers hotel, was fantastic on a Tuesday visit. It's a Jean-Georges Vongenrichten restaurant, and has a few of his signature dishes, like the outstanding passionfruit souffle from Vong. Everything we tried was excellent. The service was a bit uneven, but I'll chalk that up to being new. The bar (inside and out) is also very cool (perhaps too cool for Minneapolis?) if you only want drinks and apps.

            1. Without kids? You mean no kids in your party or a restaurant where you won't find kids? Twenty minutes north of Downtown Minneapois is Blaine . Easy freeway drive. A favorite,non gourmet, kid friendly 10-20.00 spot is Axel's Bonfire. Very tasty, prices are appropriate. Extremely busy Fri and Sat nites. If you want to avoid crowds, midweek or lunch is better.

              Link for menu.http://www.axelsbonfire.com/bonfire/i...

              A little fancier and less kid friendly is a steak and wine place called Red Oak. It's one exit farther up the freeway (3 miles



              4 Replies
              1. re: stevieBcanyon

                Say what?!? Why on earth would you send a chowish group of out-of-towners clear up to Blaine just to eat at Axel's Bonfire -- this is like telling someone visiting Manhattan to go to the Cheesecake Factory in Newark. Besides at least 50 better restaurants closer to downtown, there's even an Axel's Bonfire (Grand Avenue) that's half as far as Blaine and in a far more interesting part of town. Sorry...I don't mean disrespect and normally don't like to strongly reject others' opinions, but I'd be pretty ticked off if I was from out of town and followed this recommendation.

                1. re: MSPD

                  I agree MSPD. If I'm traveling to another city for a conference and staying downtown, why get in taxi for a 20-30 minute ride for the same food I can get downtown? Last time I was at a convention (Chicago) if it wasn't within a 10-15 walk, (after a long day sitting in lecture rooms), it wasn't an option.
                  And this is not a rip on suburban dining options. But Axel's (all locations) is average. If I'm visiting friends in the northern suburbs we head to Canyon Grille or Tria.

                2. re: stevieBcanyon

                  is this the same Axel's that had a booth at the fair? If so, I found it to be good for fair food, mediocre at best for anything else.

                  1. re: stevieBcanyon

                    In StevieBcanyon's defense, the Axel's I've been to (and I've only been to two: the one on Grand Ave. in St. Paul and the one in Roseville) are a wee bit different from each other, so it's quite possible that he really likes that one out in Blaine and what kind of chowhound isn't willing to drive 20 minutes for his favorite chow? Plus, no congestion problems in Blaine like there is on Grand Ave in St. Paul.

                    Now, I'm loathe to go to suburbs, or even cross the river to Minneapolis, because I'm so heavily biased toward St. Paul (where, thankfully, we have plenty of good chow), so, frankly I wouldn't do that for Axel's, either, but it's always nice to have options, I say.

                    Although, Axel's does have popovers (if you're craving them) and homemade potato chips. At least the one in Roseville does...


                  2. Seemed like kind of a strong reaction on your part. Your paradigm and mine are obviously different. I did nothing more that offer a rec to someone that indicated they were willing to travel to get a good meal and were flexible concerning casual vs. formal. I'd think to some people, especially visitors, might enjoy a little sightseeing. A 20 minute drive from downtown is not an inordinately long drive. Blaine is not downtown but it is a nice suburb, substantially less crowded than downtown. A drive up here , in the sticks, might show 15-30 deer visible almost every evening, from the highway adjacent to Aveda's property(Aveda is a rather chowish lunch venue in its own right.)Might see a hawk or an eagle, might go shopping, might see a pretty girl, maybe go to a movie. We suburbanites aren't without some pros on the scorecard. We now have paved roads and running water just like the city. The OP did not specify the price range they were looking for. I was up front with them and suggested two restaurants in two price ranges. I provided links to the menus so they could make an intelligent decision to consider the venue, or not. Both of the recommended restaurants are considered by many to supply quality product in the respective price range. I'm curious. Would you also react so negatively to a rec for Bella, also in Blaine, or to Kozlac's, about the same distance away but in another city? Is it the distance, the suburb or the restaurants themselves that set you off? I ,for one, enjoy visiting most all parts of the metro area for a diversity in dining. I'd get pretty bored sticking to a particular area. A forty five minute drive to Fat Lorenzo's for a slice, when the craving hits, is fine with me. There are probably a thousand restaurants in the metro area. I picked only two to suggest to the poster, because they provided a different venue from those posted by others and I, personally, enjoy both of them, for different reasons.

                    Sorry for incurring your displeasure. I've noticed that you normally post well, intelligently and in a friendly manner. This post of yours was kind of a surprise.

                    Sincerely, have a good day. No sarcasm.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: stevieBcanyon

                      Reminder: I live and work in the suburbs. Search for Eagan, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Mendota Heights, Savage, Prior Lake an Lakeville and see whose name comes up. That said, I'm also familiar with living and working downtown, as well as the fun and convenience (sarcasm) of business travel and navigating unfamiliar cities after long, boring days of conferences. The "strong reaction" is maybe rooted in my passion for helping visitors to MSP experience the best we have to offer, taking into mind their circumstance and stated preferences.

                      To summarize the entire point of my post (no ulterior 'burb hatred or personal displeasure) -- sending a group of people unfamiliar with MSP, short on time and fresh out of a full day of conferences twenty minutes (assuming miraculously no traffic up 35W) one way to an unremarkable local chain is a disservice.

                      1. re: stevieBcanyon

                        I'm going to stay away from slamming the suburbs themselves and consider the experience of a traveller new to a city, staying downtown, with a full work agenda, weighing the chow potential of a distance eatery.

                        Here are a couple of reasons why a person staying downtown might be better served by suggestions that are not beyond downtown unless they are so singularly excellent that they are also beyond wonderful:

                        -- Travellers who are working & living downtown don't necessarily have a car. A twenty minute drive from downtown can be a pretty hefty cabfare.
                        -- Time is limited for travelling workers, patience even more so. An easy freeway drive is entirely relative to time of day. I35W North stands still during rush hour.
                        -- Navigating an unknown city on a work schedule shaves away the already slight margin between exploration and frustration. Even when the lanes are not at a standstill, finding & entering the freeway from downtown is no picnic.

                        Given those considerations, my threshold for "good enough to drive to" goes up considerably. It might be worth the trip for the likes of Osteria y Nonni or La Belle Vie when it was still in Stillwater. The work-to-worth ratio for the likes of Axel's doesn't really balance in the same way.

                        If I live here and traverse the metro counties in my regular life, I don't weigh these concerns in the same way. But if I'm directing visitors I do think a bit about how I've experienced their hometowns. And the truth is that the neighborhoods they like might grow on a person over time but if there isn't a knock-me-down reason to go out there during my work trip, I'm not going to appreciate it enough to thank them for making me go through the trouble.

                        1. re: KTFoley

                          I was a little surprised by the rec too, being a suburb gal (Lino Lakes, right on the edge of Blaine) and being one to voice heartily the lack of good dining in this area. I am not a foodie, but also I would not recommend Axel's to an out-of-towner because even as a local, I would only eat there if I was with someone who wanted to go. It's not my first choice, the food is mediocre at best, it's noisy even on a weeknight and the staff wildly flucuates between too attentive and completely ignorant.

                          I echo the recs of Tria and Canyon Grille if you want to get out of the city to the North suburbs, but also, driving up 35W on any occasion isn't going to give you much in the way of 'sight-seeing' unless you like billboards and advertising.

                      2. You could just grab a bite at the Axel's in the airport on your way into/out of town and save the drive. They're in the spot that Split Rock used to occupy.

                        I agree with MSPD. Driving to the suburbs, even for a local chain, wasn't what the OP was looking for. It would be different if they'd been looking for interesting ethnic and we steered them to Eagan for Lebanese or something.

                        1. For ethnic food, I'd recommend checking out "Eat Street", AKA Nicollet Avenue. There are many great restaurants there; my favorites include Rainbow Chinese and Pho Tau Bay (Vietnamese). The Black Forest Inn is pretty good for German food and beer. Nicollet Ave has a lot of variety and none of it is terribly expensive. Pho Tau Bay in particular is incredibly good and very inexpensive.

                          Downtown, there's a terrific French Place called Vincent: A Restaurant. French and very, very good.

                          Some more favorites outside of dowtown:

                          Midori's Floating World Cafe on 27th and East Lake has terrific sushi and Japanese noodles, and is one of the least expensive sushi places I've ever been. The service can be a little slow, but the food is excellent.

                          Town Talk Diner is around the corner from Midori's on East Lake. It's a fun yet grown-up atmosphere. They have a very reasonably priced wine list, and the food is quite good.

                          Also around the corner from Midori's on East Lake is a wonderful East African restaurant called Dashen. Great food and a full bar, which is somewhat unusual for an East African restaurant. And across the street is Manny's Tortas, beloved for Mexican tortas served up fast.

                          The Sample Room on Marshall St NE, just sout of Lowry, specializes in small plates, but also offers entrée sized portions. It's got a great atmosphere, if a bit crowded. It's located in a historic building right on the east bank of the river.

                          For what it's worth, Anthony Bourdain named his favorite Minneapolis spots as the Sample Room and Vincent.

                          Hope you find something you like!

                          1. Thanks, everyone--lots of interesting choices, I'm sure I'll find lots to like! FWIW I meant no kids in the party (a post shortly before mine had asked for kid-friendly recs for Mnpls), and I doubt we'll have time to venture too far out of the city. I'm looking forward to visiting the city properly for a change--not just the airport--and I'll report back.

                            1. You inquired about enclaves of good ethnic restaurants. In addition to Eat Street (Nicollet Ave), you could check out MidTown Global Market on Lake St at Chicago.

                              MGM offers outposts of many of our local ethnic restaurants. Gathering a group to try different things (or just to please a gathering of picky eaters) is wonderful. There was an recent post after a Chowdown there that listed the different foods tried. (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...)