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Nov 14, 2006 05:30 PM

Where to take a picky out-of-towner (Minneapolis)

Hi all,

One of my closest friends will be heading up to the Cities from Chicago Dec. 1-3. My boyfriend and I would like to take her out to eat for a lunch/early dinner on that Saturday.

The problem is, well, she's picky. Not really a chowhound. So that means nothing Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern... you get the idea.

She's a big Italian fan (pasta, pizza) and anything American, really. But she eats that stuff all the time in Chi-town. We're looking to show her some Minneapolis flare.

So my question to you is - where to take her? Nothing too formal or expensive but we're not necessarily looking to go fast food style, either.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Alma, on University Ave. SE. It can be spendy, but not necessarily so , and it features good ingredients handled (IMO) perfectly. Nothing scary for the picky eaters, for the most part, and nice meat for someone from Chicago, land of big steaks. The atmosphere is cozy and friendly, the local reviews are glowing (mention it to your friend!), and you will show your guest some of the best, versus some of the flashiest, that MSP has to offer.

    1. 2nd the alma - excellent food - great service - its eally my fave place for the past year....

      I think the tasting menu is 42 or 45 per head which is for 3 courses. when you add in wine, desert, tax, tip - it does add up faster than you realize.

      3 Replies
      1. re: St Paul Susie

        Maybe instead of the tasting menu, lunch would be the better option, dollar-wise. Does Alma serve lunch? Have never been except for dinner.

        1. re: cayjohan

          alma - no lunch

          tasting menu is the way to go - sorry. if you just get one thing or one or 2 things its still going to be pricy - I checked their www a few weeks ago and they still had a very old menu - but the same price points.

          Erte is a good choice - fun, good chow, reasonable (compared to 112 and alma) and there are some traditional faves your friend my really enjoy.

          Sample room pops into my head as well - I think it might be in the link to a prior thread posted below. Might be better able to control costs but still have good chow.

          1. re: St Paul Susie

            Bummer on the no-lunch-at-Alma; I was getting my hopes up.

            I agree on the Sample Room, especially if you have a party of different tastes, plus, it's a relaxed atmosphere.

            Not so sure on Erte - I've liked my meals there, but always bridle about having to order my sides separately (and pay for them). Haven't been for 2 years - do they still just give you, say, a steak on your plate, and if you want someting else you have to order it? The prices are nice, but not so nice that you couldn't expect a little on the side.

      2. Alma's good. Did you try 112 Eatery? "Late lunch/early dinner" may land you a surprisingly available reservation.

        1. Maggie, I think I read on another of your posts that you are around/involved with the Univ. of Minn. Another option, since your friend is not necesarily a chowhound, is the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown. A lot of the food is surprisingly good, affordable, and served in an atmosphere that would leave your friend feeling wowed. Whenever our Chicago friends come to visit, they beg for a dinner and drinks at Loring just to soak in the feel of the place. Another option that is not so spendy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cayjohan

            I actually had this on my short list of ideas! It's true that I used to live in the Dinkytown neighborhood but have since relocated to South Minneapolis (right near the Chatterbox Pub).

            Thanks for the ideas, guys!

          2. It should be noted that 112 opens at 5:00. It is a surprisingly available reservation, but also a good time to be a walk-in. They leave tables open for walk-ins, so if you're waiting outside the door at 4:50, a table very well could be yours will little or no wait.

            I've brought quite a few "picky eaters" there, and all were very happy. The biggest barrier was "menu intimidation" - they didn't know what some things were, and were afraid to ask. If you can guide them through an interaction with the server, they'll find a lot of familiar choices - prepared way better than anything they've probably had before.