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Most Controversial food opinion MPLS/St. Paul Edition

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This is a great discussion idea and I couldn't but help steal it from the Boston board. www.chowhound.com/topics/345277

So what is your most controversial food opinion about the Twin Cities or for that matter the Midwest.

Do you think restaurant walleye is nothing more than overrated white fish?

Wild rice is nothing special?

State Fair food is down right bad?

Lets hear those opinions that make Minnesotans cringe!

  1. I would posit that one of the most controversial aspects of MSP 'hounding is the lack of controversy. Some places are easy to aggree on - 112 Eatery for example. They're not perfect for all people all the time, but they do what they do extremely well.

    It's the places people keep putting forward without regard to an OP's request or without regard to how a place (or we as diners) change over time. It's always the same places without exception. Is True Thai really the only good Thai place in town? Is Manny's really the only torta in town? And don't get me started on Shuang Cheng.

    I think it's great that we rely on each other for recs, and it's good that we're enthusiastic - indeed passionate - about our favorite places. But we also owe it to ourselves and our fellow 'hounds to eat outside our comfort zone - either culinarily or geographically - and accept that (insert your favorite resto here) may not be the best in town, but it's the best near where you live. Or that someone else's fave may not be "authentic", but it's still good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Loren3

      Just a general comment: most restaurant food I've had in this area has been bland. I grew up in Indianapolis, another city with bland food. In the 60s and 70s it was mostly steakhouses, fried chicken restaurants, and chains. Shapiro's Deli was the exception.

      I moved to and lived in the Southwest (NM and NV) for a long time, and while I don't demand that my food be fire breathing hot, restaurants might try putting garlic, onion and appropriate herbs and spices in their food, plus a bit of heat. Try something different, folks! Put Tabasco or Sriracha bottled hot sauces on the tables where they're suited to the food.

      1. re: paoconnell

        A couple of suggestions for glorious and abundant heat that's not overpowering or out of balance: Little Szechuan on University Ave. in St. Paul, and El Burrito Mercado on the West Side of St. Paul.

        -----
        Little Szechuan - West End
        5377 16th Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55416

        El Burrito Mercado
        175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

      2. re: Loren3

        I just have never understood what the big deal is about the Tavern's fish. It just didn't do it for me.

      3. Hm, not sure how controversial this really is but I have never had good pizza in MSP. Sure, Nea is good for something different, and I like their salads, but I've never left anywhere thinking, "man, that hit the spot for pizza." Most of the places from which people get pizza I find inpalatable.

        I'm also from NY if that helps anyone understand what I consider good pizza.

        And also, I would never choose to go back to LBV despite their good service. The food was extremely disappointing.

        2 Replies
        1. re: katebauer

          great pizza is the pizza you grow up with. i'll never find my kind of pizza here, but i learned to accept & like some of the closer options (punch).

          1. re: katebauer

            Kate,

            You might want to give Broders deli another try for their pizza. I'm from northern NJ so we probably share the same pizza tastes. I've found Broders to be the closest to "home." I think I heard somewhere that the Broder family originally comes from NY, which I would believe given their cookie imports.

          2. I disagree w/ Loren3 – we do have enough controversy on some issues (I’m for one don’t go to True Thai given that I have similar options nearby, and better service), and most postings DO read the request (few don't, and we should point those out: "he asked for special occasion, don't send him to MGM!")

            Loren3, not sure i get your point: “we rely on each other for recs, (...) but we also owe it to ourselves and our fellow 'hounds to eat outside our comfort zone (...) and accept that ... may not be the best in town...” uh, yeah, most of us DO that: go to CH for recs and finds, check what this-or-that place is all about. Sometimes we agree with the post that led us there, sometimes we’re shocked that someone could have honestly have recommended such food (and we say so, of course). But we keep coming back to CH, ‘cause the gains far outweigh the losses. And we are all smart enough to know those are all personal opinions, so no one is thinking “my place is the best in town”, they are just thinking “of the places I know, this is my favorite”.

            Ok, that said, my contribution to Paz: MSP prices are ridiculous – and the food rarely matches the tag (and don't get me started on the drinks/wine). The only food that is worth the $ is ethnic (usually cheap but NO ambiance) or a handful (5-6?) of upscale places. All the other places seem to be riding the price wave, like a collusion/ price fixing conspiracy.

            1. Im really new to this board, but Id like to share my opinion :).

              Well, Im Thai, and I think Thai food can be a bit controversial in Twin Cities. All I can say about Thai food in the area is that there is NO real authentic Thai food restaurants in Twin Cities.

              I think that most ppl on this board think that True Thai is the best, but just to let you all know, the head cook there is Laos. I have also heard a lot of ppl (maybe not on this board and mostly American) give really good compliments to Chiang Mai Thai. Though I have to agree that the atmosphere there is really nice, I have to say that the food there is abysmal, and the head cook there is Vietnamese.

              A couple of Thai restaurants I know that have Thai cooks are Chai, Thai Bazil, and Mae Khong.

              Well, maybe real authentic Thai food is not a solution for most of the ppl in town, since most of the ppl are more familiar with Americanized Thai Food anyway :).

              6 Replies
              1. re: moomon

                I'm curious - could you tell us what how the Thai food here differs (ingredient availability, for example)? I would love to know what a Thai national has to say, since I love cooking Thai food at home and love to learn. It's a beautiful cuisine.

                I do take issue with your pointing out that a chef at a Thai restaurant is not Thai, but *something else* ethnically, and thereby using that fact as an argument against the authenticity of the food. I don't have to be an African-American southerner to make really good collards. I don't have to be from Nice to make a wonderful salade Nicoise. If we were all just cooking to, and from, our ethnicity, the world would be a much less interesting table of delights.

                I don't want to take you to task too stridently, but I'd be curious to hear the reasons for your opinion. A lot of us may learn something new, and thank you for your insights.

                1. re: cayjohan

                  Well, Im not a great cook myself, but when we, Thai, cook, we dont really measure the ingredients by cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons or whatever like most of the ppl here do it :). We tend to pour a little bit of this sauce and that sauce, taste and then put some more of this and that until the food tastes pretty good. So .. I would have to say that it's more like familiarity. I think it's true for everyone here. When you are growing up with certain kinds of food, then you know how that food is supposed to taste like.

                  I have to point some aspects out here why Thai food in MN is not authentic.
                  1. There are a whole lot of ingredients that we cannot find in MN.
                  2. Most Thai restaurants here have to Americanized their food according to the taste that American ppl like.

                  .. Those two aspects will then make Thai restaurants that have Thai cooks arent that authentic.

                  3. From my opinion that most of the head cooks in Thai restaurants here are not Thai .. they were initially told or taught how to cook Thai food by Thai chef. However, since Laos and Vietnamese are not Thai, they are not familiar with Thai food. The authenticity that they originally learned tends to change with time. They cannot really adjust or adapt if the taste of the food shifts a little. They just make the food as they were told. .... like .. how many spoons of this sauce and that sauce.

                  Well, again .. as I wrote earlier in my comment, real and authentic might not actually be the answer. It's actually the matter of how you like the taste of that food. You might not like real and authentic Thai food at all if you have actually tried one.

                  If you had Thai food for the first time at restaurant 'A', and you really loved the taste of the food there. Then you might not like Thai food at restaurant 'B', which actually is more authentic, because you might have already stick with the taste of Thai food at restaurant 'A'. :)

                  I think it's true for all kinds of food, not just Thai.

                  1. re: moomon

                    With the possible exception of bakers who require a degree of exactness, everyone who ever had a parent or grandparent who was a decent traditional cook tells the same story about how the kitchen lore learned by watching mama is disappearing.

                    We live in a country where everyone's family is from someplace else, so this is like saying the sky is blue.

                    1. re: moomon

                      What do you think of Rum Mit Thai in St. Paul? I'm Asian, but not Thai, and I really enjoy their cuisine.

                  2. re: moomon

                    I grew up in NY and my favorite Thai place was Sripraphai. While I have not found a place in MN that is as good, I think Krua Thai is the best here. There are a few dishes at True Thai that I like a lot, ok, one, the drunken noodles, but overall I think Krua is the best approximation.

                    1. re: AliceS

                      Alice,

                      I do like some dishes at both True Thai and Krua Thai as well, but some of my Thai friends sait that the food at Krua Thai is a bit too sweet though.

                      Have you tried Thai food at Thai Bazil yet. It's not that far from Krua Thai. I went there a couple of times and had the fried whole tilapia with fresh tomato sauce with basil. I have to say that that dish is the closest thing for the Thai food in Midwest to the food back home that Ive had after three and a half year thru school in Madison, and now almost two years thru school here in U of M. :)

                  3. Here is my contribution

                    Cup cakes are not a pastry and cakes that can be made out of a box are not worthy of a display case. As someone who lived in both Europe and the Middle East I have to say that the state of bakeries and desserts in the twin cities are abysmal. Put any one of them in any street of Paris and it would not see a costumer even if it was the only one standing. Partially to blame are people on this list that call attention to bakeries around town as a culinary highlight of the twin cities.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: uptowner

                      I'm curious... what bakeries around town bake cakes from boxes?

                      While your statement about Paris is certainly true, that's not really a fair comparison, is it? I mean, there are very few places in the world where the bakeries could hold their own against Parisian patisseries.

                      For the record, I think Lucia's or possibly Rustica come the closest to Paris in the TC. I actually tried to A/B the canelles at Lucia's to ones from "Paul" in Paris (with two days separation between the taste tests, for obvious reasons) and Lucia's came out ahead. (But those were just the canelles.)

                      1. re: Chris Mitra

                        "CAN be made out of a box"... and my most recent experience refers to the cakes at Yum.

                        I do agree that from all the places around town, Lucia's and selectively Rustica are the best (deliberately not mentioning Cup Cake). But that is far from making it a reason for pilgrimage.

                        As you may know "Paul" is a chain much like Panera or Caribou and still better than most or all.

                        Anyways I just wanted to bring realism to the discussion in the spirit of this thread.

                      2. re: uptowner

                        I think that's something that I have heard a lot of recently about every type of food in MSP... "well the Thai food isn't as good as in London" ... "the pastry isn't as good as Paris" ... "the gyros aren't as good as if you flew to %$@!ing Greece and slaughtered a lamb yourself and got your Grecian grandma to make one for you" ... "i can name SEVERAL hole-in-the-wall places in NEW YORK CITY which have better bagels"....

                        GIVE ME A BREAK!

                        i think this kind of talk shows a couple things:
                        A. the food is good, if we have to go to the very top to say we've had better
                        B. people on chowhound are, in general, desperate to name-drop

                        1. re: poivre

                          I agree, you'll be a very sad person if you spend your life in MSP and are constantly feeling like the food is subpar. However, I believe the real problem is that the majority of people in MSP could care less that their food is less than. Moving here 4 years ago was a culture shock, I'd never been in a city where so few people had travelled internationally, or even to San Francisco, NY, etc. and those people had no interest in travelling. As an example, we got married in NYC a few months ago and 1/2 our Minnesotan friends and family didn't come, many due to fear of the unknown versus financial hardship. Minnesotans seem to be so protective of what they have they don't even want to know what else is out there - and that leads to restaurants that serve medicore food thriving. While there is clearly a subset of people that seek out good food, so many don't that it's the great restaurants that are failing and the ones that cater to bland tastes that succeed.

                          (I'm aware this is a slight exageration to prove my point. I just wanted to show that demanding better because we know better exists is a good thing!)

                        2. re: uptowner

                          now then, have you been to Rustica?

                        3. A good cocktail should not cost $10.

                          Wines sold by the glass should not be poured from bottles open for more than a day.

                          In restos that are not meat-centric (steakhouses): The ubiquitous pasta entree should not be the one and only vegetarian offering on a menu. Oh, and that pasta entree should not be priced $2 under the steak entree.

                          Finally to MSP related stuff:

                          Al's Breakfast is not for everybody.

                          We need more dairy delis and delis in general.

                          1. Does "authentic" mean "better"? I'm not a Thai food person, but if someone likes "americanized Thai" better then "authentic Thai" should they hide in shame? And Thai is just an example, the same thinking can be applied to anything. If someone likes how food tastes, should they have to explain the reasoning behind why they like it?
                            (this isn't meant to be in reply to Moomon's post, I just used Thai as one example :o))

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ChefD

                              I totally agree with you. It's actually just the matter of how you like the taste of that food.

                              Like me for example, I had Vietnamese food all the time when I was in Thailand cos I loved it, but when I went to Vietnam, I did not fall in love with the food there at all. I had to eat so that I was not starve. ^_~

                            2. Love this idea. I need to read the beantown one....

                              Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice Soup is disgusting.

                              Walleye tastes like metal.

                              There is no real Chinese food anywhere here (I'm not talking thai, laos or such) but I am talking quality and authentic.

                              I can think of some more.....

                              1. Similarly, a recent thread on the Manhattan board was what New York food myths continue to plague the masses? Such as the notion that black and white cookies are actually kind of tasteless, there aren't very many diners open 24 hours and Jewish delis really don't exist anymore. That was a particularly interesting thread; though I don't know if there are tons of MN food myths beyond the fact that everyone eats wild rice all the time...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chompchomp

                                  My favorite Minnesota food myth ties in nicely with my food opinion that makes Minnesotans cringe.

                                  The whole walleye fixation is something I can't figure out. Now I enjoy a good shore lunch but for the life of me I can't figure out what's so special about restaurant walleye. I mean the great majority is caught elsewhere, frozen, and can be easily substituted for less money with zander. I just don't understand it.

                                  1. re: Paz

                                    Well, it's delcious. Also, it's something different.

                                2. Oh, so many things to respond to :)

                                  First, I'm not crazy about Broders (the deli-like one). We go there occasionally because we live quite close and it's good for a quick Italian fix but it always just tastes like poorly reheated food to me. I'll admit I've never had the pizza, I usually get spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna.

                                  Second, I agree that having a Thai chef does not necessarily increase the quality of the food. For example, I once went to Royal Orchid in the Skyway and the chef started bashing all the other downtown Thai places because they had Laotian chefs. Well, the food there (and the other Royal Orchid is Roseville) is certainly nothing special.

                                  We're headed to Thailand next week so I'll be able to report better the differences between Thai here and there but I have heard that Minnesotan Thai food is much sweeter than most places.

                                  As far as real Chinese I think most Americans have never had real Chinese (of any kind, Cantonese, Szechuan, etc.). The food I had in Beijing was totally greasy and heavy - I wouldn't want to eat it here. That being said, I also haven't had good Chinese in any city I've lived in since I left NY (meaning not in Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta or here).

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: katebauer

                                    Funny, I've always had the pizza at Broders deli, except for once when I tried the eggplant parm. If my experience with the eggplant parm is an indication of the other entrees which you usually have (spaghetti, lasagne), then we might be in agreement. (Correspondingly, it might be worth sampling a slice of the pizza.)

                                    Incidentally, we also live quite close to Broders.

                                    1. re: katebauer

                                      To be fair, eating Chinese food in Beijing is akin to enjoying German culture in Munich. All the good chefs are in Shanghai and Kwantung. I grew up in NYC myself and the Cantonese cuisine is certainly top notch. However, they don't do nearly as well with Sichuan or Shanghai dishes. I would argue that you can get excellent Cantonese in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston as well.

                                    2. Here's a starter... nothing that involves Jell-o should be called salad, it doesn't matter what vegetables you suspend in it.

                                      And, to really annoy those with local roots... The only circumstances under which pizza should be cut into squares are those where the pizza itsself is a square.

                                      As for a lot of agreement, read the recent Punch/Nea debates. Or the Pumphouse/Izzy's/Crema debates that have happened.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Danny

                                        On my first visit to MN to see my inlaws, we were getting ready for a big dinner and MIL asked me to bring out the salad. I was rooting around in the fridge...I couldn't find anything that looked like a salad, just some coldcuts and a big molded jello. Then it occurred to me *that* is what she was calling "salad"? It is truly one of my biggest "culture shock" moments!

                                        1. re: lisa13

                                          This is a bit of a tangent, but there was a hilarious scene in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" poking fun at this *exact* moment of food culture shock -- a daughter's first visit to her Minnesota in-laws witnessing the making of a Minnesota salad. ("Next, add six cups of mayonnaise.") Was that you? :)

                                          1. re: Chris Mitra

                                            I learned very quickly to just stay out of the kitchen when they are getting busy with the cooking - I really prefer not to know what goes into those hotdishes.

                                            But your comment about mayo has me laughing out loud. On her last visit, my MIL offered to make a dressing to go with the freshly picked, delicate, sweet little baby lettuces from my garden - it *was* about 3 cups of mayo and she used so much dressing the lettuce was pretty much just a garnish. Oh, I was sooooo....perturbed. =) I love her dearly but the food thing just kills me.

                                            So yeah, I just stay out of it if I can.

                                      2. It's funny that most of the responses are negatives about Minneapolis food, instead of positives. I, for one, agree with the idea that the best pizza is the pizza you grew up with (which for me was the Pizza Platter in Tonka Bay), not that I can't love other kinds of pizza, I do, and I especially love "New York" pizza.

                                        Maybe my controversial opinion is that on these pages there seems to be a lot of moaning about here not being elsewhere. Or that something here can't possibly be as good as something somewhere else.

                                        I also think that "authenticity" of a particular "ethnic" cuisine overlooks the fact that most food dishes from all over the world are results of fusion, immigration, spice trade, and economics. I might even wager to say that "authenticity" in cuisine is a myth, or is from a point of view that wherever I am now is not as great as somewhere else.

                                        1. 1) White Castle jalapeno cheeseburgers are the best food in the world under the right circumstances
                                          2) I have never had a first-rate Spanish or Italian meal anywhere in the Metro and I doubt I ever will (that is not to say there are not plenty of places to get great Italian food)
                                          3) Chai's is the best Thai in the MPLS-STPL
                                          4) Jucy Lucy's are rubbish
                                          5) Any restaurant that serves an Old Fashioned using mix should be closed immediately for drink-code violations
                                          6) Andrew @ JP Bistro is the only reason to go out to eat in Uptown

                                          There, I said it. All of it.

                                          1. I am sick and tired of people thinking we have no food sense. Anthony Bourdain did a fine encapsulation - Bobby Flay did us a disservice (in my opinion).

                                            We have the opportunity to chow down in a wonderful melting pot of culinary delights and I am oh so happy to partake where I can. I keep trying new things and I think that's the point - or I think that's a big part of chowishness.

                                            And... should we regard dishes such as lefse in Tokyo as not being authentic if it tastes different from what we are used to? Or, being a savvy vendor would you make it taste the way Tokyans(?) want lefse to taste. I really think we should lighten up on the authentic issue.

                                            1. Jucy Lucy's are not good! I agree with that one.

                                              1. Regarding "authentic" - I have a work chum from Viet Nam. It's his opinion that until the health department starts letting chefs slaughter live chickens in their kitchen, there will never be "authentic" Vietnamese food in this country. I agree that the authentic/not argument is intrinsically bogus.

                                                And a nod to the idea that a chef has to be from somewhere or that a resto has to have a particular "authentic" cred to be good. As the Punch/Nea debate shows, authentic can be badly done, and that ethnic Thai/Tuscan/Provencal/Catalunian/Ainu/whatever chef could just suck as a chef. And that doesn't even bring regional differences into the mix.

                                                1. Re: Jucy/Juicy Lucy - I never understood what the big whoop was about them.

                                                  Re: Walleye - I would never classify walleye as a favorite fish. However, when prepared well (which is rare), it can be tasty enough.

                                                  Re: Chinese - Having lived in China for several months, I have to disagree with the statement that "authentic" (use of quotes indicates my agreement that authenticity is a loaded, questionable term) Chinese is unavailable in the Twin Cities. Off the top of my head, I'd name Jun Bo, Hong Kong Noodles, and Grand Shanghai as places I've found "authentic" Chinese food (although certainly not every menu item is what I would consider "authentic").

                                                  Just because most of the food around here is - well - crappy, doesn't mean there's not a lot of good food to be had!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: diesel

                                                    agree on the chinese - had the great chance to travel to china last year and was wonderfully surprised to see that some places here can TOTALLY hold a candle to the real thing! (and in china i ate everything, from street vendors to traditional & expensive places)

                                                    1. re: diesel

                                                      Point taken...However Grand Shanghai (the one on grand near hamline?) is horrible. can't understand how that place gets any business at all.

                                                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                        I'd agree that most of the food there is nothing special at all. However, their steamed dumplings and a few other dishes (sorry, the specifics are escaping me right now) are pretty decent, and taste just like what I had in China (not all the food there is very good either!).

                                                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                          I live two blocks from there, and one of the things my fiancee and I agree on is that we will NEVER EVER eat there. IT is just plain nasty. Chow mein from a can. Seriously.

                                                          1. re: jenniegirl

                                                            Y'know, since that last post I made, I've eaten at Grand Shanghai once or twice and had a few excellent dishes. The five spiced squid stands out in particular - it was light, salty, crispy, tender, spicy, piping hot, and full of crispy ginger shreds - really delightful.

                                                            I know I'll be there again in the future, and I'd like to avoid the type of experience you seem to have had, so I'm curious about what dishes you've tried at Grand Shanghai - like I've said before, I'll fully acknowledge that not all of their dishes are very good, but I've never suspected anything came from a can - of course I've never ordered their chow mein!

                                                            1. re: diesel

                                                              Thanks for the tip, diesel, on the excellent dishes and Grand Shanghai. Astonishingly, I've never eaten in the restaurant--only had take out. It's a little unfair to judge a restaurant based on their take-out, but, it's never been good enough to tempt me in. But, maybe it's worth a visit with your endorsement of the squid.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                      2. 1a) There is no good Mexican cuisine in Minnesota. My last trip to Salsa a la Salsa was a huge disappointment. I lived in Phoenix/Tucson for 8 years and am convinced I will never find Mexican here like I found down there.

                                                        1b) Chipotle is NOT awesome Mexican food. Nor is it worth standing in a giant line for on Nicollet.

                                                        2) The cheese curds at the Mouth Trap at the State Fair are over-rated.

                                                        3) It's seasoned ground beef! NOT "taco meat!"

                                                        4) Holy Land makes the best hummus in the state.

                                                        5) Minneapolis has some of the best happy hour deals in the COUNTRY. You can't get 2-4-1s just anywhere.

                                                        6) Despite what outsiders may think, there is a LOT of good food in Minnesota. The variety alone is what makes this is such a Chow-ish place to live. I love it here :)

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: MaggieB

                                                          Disagree/agree with point 1a. Agree thatSalsa a la Salsa does suck. It started out great about three years ago, but went almost immediately into a downhill slide.

                                                          Disagree that there's no good Mexican in this town. Try Pancho Villa on Eat Street, or any number of hole-in-the-wall places on East Lake. To judge MSP Mexican from just one place isn't fair.

                                                          I used to live in Texas, and have travelled extensively in AZ, NMex, and SoCal. No, MN is not any of those places, but we do have some MNMex that holds a candle.

                                                          1. re: MaggieB

                                                            Maggie, being a transplant from Texas, I'll say that I enjoy Los Ocampos in Midtown even more than some of the Texan Taqueritas I frequented. Make sure and try a Huarachazo.

                                                            1. re: MaggieB

                                                              The cheese curds at the fair are way too salty. For really good cheese curds you need to go to Wisconsin!

                                                              1. re: jenniegirl

                                                                No way. The curds at the Wisconsin State Fair are frozen and breaded (rather than battered). There is one company that pretty much provides all the food to the Wisconsin State Fair which it is why it uniformally is pretty bad.

                                                                Fresh curds freshly battered and fried...it's a curd, it's supposed to be hot & salty. Plays well with Sumit.

                                                                1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                  I didn't mean the State Fair ones-I lived in WI for ten years and never went to the Fair-I always came to Minnesota for that! There is this fantastic place in LaCrosse where they have these beer-battered cheese curds-they are huge-and light and wonderful. Edwardo's. That place is good.

                                                              2. re: MaggieB

                                                                You may have to leave the Cities to find it. There's a place in Sauk Centre (off 94 and next to the Super 8 motel) that's brilliant. Their barbacoa consists of huge, reasonably-priced, well-seasoned chunks of beef and pork; sopa albondigas that you'd never find in a TexMex place; mole that has to be homemade; flavorful cozido; real carnitas made with plenty of lard....

                                                                I've heard a few people brag up some place in Willmar; anyone know the name/location of that place?

                                                              3. The conventional wisdom that pervades this Board that I disagree with:

                                                                That only ethnic food is "Chowish".

                                                                That something can't be good unless it's the same as what you had somewhere else.

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                1. Hey! folks, lighten up.

                                                                  MN is MN.

                                                                  If you want authentic, NY, Thai, Chinese, Lao, French, etc. Go there. Airfares are cheap.

                                                                  How many of you have tried the MN delicacy called lutefisk? That is a local delicacy.

                                                                  Restaurant walleye was swimming in a Canadian lake three, maybe four or five months ago. Buy a license and catch your own for fresh if you will.

                                                                  If your resto is not, in your opinion, authentic, go to the real stuff, don't knock the folks who are trying to make a buck in a competitive market, where the palate is not the same as yours IMHO.

                                                                  Meanwhile, make do, or cook your own version of what you think is "authentic". And don't be afraid to try Lutefisk, Hotdish, or other MN delicacies. And enjoy them for what they are, local cuisine.

                                                                  Don't expect exotic flavors in the Land of Snow and Cold. Enjoy what you have.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: AZGrandpa

                                                                    I have to take issue with this opinion...it's like being satisfied with mediocrity, as in saying, why even try? I mean, Applebee's is right around the corner, so why don't we just go there? yeah, Minnesota is Minnesota, but that doesn't mean you can't have interesting and adventurous cuisine.

                                                                  2. I think the OP intended this thread to be tongue-in-cheek. At least, that's the way I'm taking it.

                                                                    My most controversial opinion: Most of the food reviewers and magazines in this town are crap. Except Dara, who is a goddess. And Bruce & Karen Schneier, who are righteous foodies. Oh, and Jeremy Iggers is great, too.

                                                                    But the Strib, the Rake, Pioneer Press, Pulse, etc. - their restaurant reviews are a waste of food and air. And don't get me started on the PR magazine that calls itself Buon Gusto!

                                                                    Was that controversial enough?

                                                                    Anne

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                      I find that trying to wade my way through one of Dara reviews packed full of clever and oh-too-cute analogies is as irritating as having to pick through the corn masa in a stingy tamale in search of the tiny morsel of meat. Yeah, I know about the James Beard awards, etc., but if it weren't for her great chowsense, I couldn't read her at all.

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        I agree to a point - I get really tired of her blithering. But I really like the actual reviews. So I tend to skip the first half (or third, or three-quarters) of the review and skim the rest. But I like her tastebuds, because they seem in synch with mine.

                                                                        Anne

                                                                    2. OK, OK! You might not like walleye but go 100 miles south and your equivalent is going to be catfish. Walleye is a Minnesotan regional fare and it can be found in most sandwich serving restaurants. So if you are from Minnesota and stuck in another state you might be pining away for a good pan fried walleye sandwich. We got it. Others don't save for Wisconsin, Michigan, the Ohio shores of Lake Erie and maybe upstate New York.

                                                                      Yeah, yeah, I know it is generally Canadian walleye with the exception of a few resort places but when you can catch your own you get that unbeatable special food treat.

                                                                      Wild rice today is not as special as it was 30-40 years ago when you could not get it anywhere but in Minnesota at almost any price. Now California grows more of it commercially than Minnesota. Still, it is better as a side dish on the plate than bland white rice.

                                                                      It is irrelevant whether state fair food is bad. It is suppose to be that and on a stick. Remember you only do it once a year. It can't hurt you. It is an experience. Every state and county shares that same craze at their fairs. It is nothing special to Minnesota.

                                                                      I do travel extensively around the country and have been overseas. That's one reason why I do not get hyper about seafood, Italian, Mexican, pizza, etc. and most other ethnic. The food is passable in Minnesota but nothing to rave about unless you are comparing in state restaurants. But when I do travel I try to seek out the kind of foods local to the place and possibly unavailable in Minnesota. So when an outsider comes here I recommend trying to batter fried walleye sandwich.

                                                                      1. Paz, I love this topic. This is one of the best discussions on this site in the last few years. Here are my controversial opinions:

                                                                        1. Oceannaire, Zelo, and Lurcat are the three most overrated restaurants in this town. I cringe when people take out of towners to these places to showcase what Minneapolis has to offer. The space at Lurcat is really nice, and is great for drinks and appetizers, but dinner is overpriced and not very good. At Oceannaire everything on the menu sounds like it is going to be good but then disappoints. There are MANY better options,

                                                                        2. I like the Minneapolis Farmer's Market better than St. Paul one. Okay maybe it is because it is only a 3 minute drive for me and I have gone every weekend when I have been in town for the last 5 years. But I just think it is more varied. Yes, I know there is beauty to the "all local" policy at St. Paul, yes Love Tree Farm cheese in St. Paul is outstanding, and yes there are some duds at Minneapolis. However, if you know which stands to go to, I think the selection and quality at Minneapolis is better (I especially love the fresh and smoked trout at Trout Air) - and I like being able to buy a $0.25 lemon (obviously not local) if a recipe calls for it.

                                                                        3. Save your plane fare...the Chinese food at Mandarin Kitchen and Tea House is as good as any I have had in NYC, SF, or LA. I grew up near New York and have had a ton of Chinese food both in Manhattan's Chinatown and Flushing -- the real Chinatown. I also have eaten at several of the top Chinese places in SF accoring to chowhounders and Zagats. Then this summer I ate dim sum in LA's San Gabriel Valley -- more a China County than China Town. I would put our top two against any thing I had in the big cities. I am not saying Minneapolis is better across the board for Chinese and it is certainly not as deep or varied, but head-to-head top two, we stack up well.

                                                                        4. Ditto Thai. I know Alice and Paz will jump on me here, but I went to Sriphapai -- the darling of the NYC chowhound community -- for Thai in Queens. It was good, but not great. Frankly I would rather have the food at True Thai. Okay I realize this is the second controversial statement so we'll call it 4b. I also think True Thai is much better than Krua.

                                                                        5. I did not even bother to partake in the Punch vs. Nea debate. To me, it is not even a debate...Punch is so far superior. Burnt crusts...wah, wah, wah. Long waits...wah, wah, wah. Punch is a treasure. I would say Punch is as much better than Nea as Nea is than Papa John's -- that's how much distance there is between the two.

                                                                        6. I love the star chefs. I didn't want to, but I do. I think Puck's 20.21 and Jean-Georges' Chambers are the best additions to the fancy food scene in Minneapolis in the last two years. Each place brings a sense of style and hipness to fine dining. Also, Minneapolis did not seem to get the message about nouvelle Asian/fusion that swept the country about a decade ago. Azia?, please! Thank god we have had a couple star chefs pick Minneapolis to expand their empires to.

                                                                        7. The food that Doug and Mel prepare at Auriga is top three in the city. It gets overlooked sometimes by some splashier newer restaurants, but night in and night out, Auriga delivers outstanding food. I love the amuse section where you get tastes of some very creative dishes. Yes, I was very disappointed about the re-model a few years ago and I think it looks like the lobby of the Eden Prairie Radisson -- if there were an Eden Prairie Radisson. But if you can put that behind you, or just sit in the bar and order from there, you will be treated to an outstanding meal.

                                                                        8. Okay back to my Minneapolis stacks up with other cities controversies. This one I am borrowing from a friend in LA. Minneapolis Mexican is as good as what you get in LA. It wasn't me, I don't know from Mexican in LA so I can't make that statement, but my friend who lived both places said it. No he is not talking a bout Salsa a la Salsa (so-so), Masa (expensive and so-so), or Pepito's (not even so-so). But several little places along East Lake Street are making great Mexican food: Tacqueria La Hacienda (Dara just raved about the al pastor, but I think the barbacoa is even better), Pineda Tacos, Manny's Tortas, La Loma for tamales. The improvement in Mexican over the last five years is tremendous.

                                                                        9. Now that I have pumped up Twin Cities Chinese, Thai, and Mexican, I will list what I think are the biggest shortcomings:
                                                                        - Jewish delis: I would love to get good pastrami and bagels, but I do like the matzah ball soup at Crossraods. If we Ann Arbor's Zingerman's I would be in deli heaven.
                                                                        - Italian delis: another huge gap. One more controversial statement - Cosetta's is barely better than mall chain Sbarro.
                                                                        - South American: I would love a good Peruvian or Ecuadorian restaurant here.
                                                                        - Eastern Mediterranean: Two of my favorite restaurants in the U.S. are Zaytinya in DC and Oleana in Boston. Both specialize in eastern Med like Turkish, Lebanese, Greek in stylish settings and more upscale food. Big gap!
                                                                        - Iberian: I will lump togehter two of my favorite cuisines Portuguese and Spanish. I realize Portuguese is a little much to ask given that 99% of the Portuguese restaurants in this country are in Cambridge, New Bedford, Fall River, Rhode Island, Bridgeport, Hartford, New York City, or Newark, but I do love it and miss it. I would also love a good tapas place. As much as I love La Belle Vie, I have never been as impressed with Solera.
                                                                        - Indian: since Udupi closed there is a gap. Great India is good, but inconvenient.
                                                                        - Scandanavian: It is crazy to me that the only good Swedish meatballs and lingonberry I know of it is at the cafeteria for big box retailer Ikea. This is the Scandanavian capital of the U.S., isn't it?

                                                                        10. Okay, all you St. Paul chowhounds are going to hate me. I have already dissed Krua and Cosetta's. I think Cheng Heng is overrated. I would take most of the Vietnaemese places on University over the popular Cambodian place. I like Cambodian food, but I have not been overly impressed either time there. The other sacred cow of St. Paul chowhounds that I think is overrated is Tanpopo. Yes, it is a very cute space, yes I love having a Japanese noodle shop in the Twin Cities, and yes I probably would go more often if it were 5 minutes from my house. But the few times I have been there I thought "good not great, not any better than the Japanese noodle soups we make at home."

                                                                        11. I am not a big fan of either duplex or Corner Table. Friends rave about these places as good, cheaper alternatives to Lucia's, Auriga, and Alma. They are a little cheaper, but I do not love the food. I would say the prices are 75-80% but the food quality is maybe 65%. I would rather pay the extra $10 and go to one of the better restaurants. If I am looking in that price range, I would rather go to French Meadow or Spoon River or pig out at a great ethinc restaurant.

                                                                        12. I actually like Chipotle burritos. Okay maybe that kills my rep as being able to talk about Minneapolis Mexican. Don't get me wrong, I would still rather have a taco from Pineda or La Hacienda, but in a pinch Chipotle makes a decent burrito and I especially like their natural pork carnitas.

                                                                        13. The hot dago sandwich is the best, least talked about Twin Cities delicacy. I'll take that as a Twin Cities specialty over walleye. I think DeGidio's and Dairy-ette are the two best and should be mentioned more frequently on this site.

                                                                        Okay, now that I have offended a favorite of almost everyone's I will get off my soap box. Paz, thanks for the microphone and let the debate continue....

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Josh Resnik

                                                                          I list the Dairy-ette in my profile. I've been thinking about adding DeGidio's, since I think it's a good place for winter comfort chow, but haven't gotten around to it. Maybe I'll do that now. :)

                                                                          Given the genuine Italian heritage in St. Paul, I have been, for some time, puzzled by the dearth of great Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities, but I agree with your point on that. I assume I just haven't found them yet.

                                                                          As far as Tanpopo, they describe themselves as "homestyle" Japanese cooking, so if they are approximating the kind of comfort food you're cooking at home (I'm going out on a limb and guessing that Josh is a great cook), from locally-grown organic ingredients, I'd say they succeeded. I'm not sure I'd cross town for it if I were you, but St. Paul isn't Minneapolis and folks in St. Paul need places to eat, too, and places to recommend when people ask where in St. Paul they can eat. There aren't as many nice spaces in St. Paul that can seat groups at that price point as there might be in Minneapolis. And, if you want to eat local, organic, ethnic, and home-style, Tanpopo is still a great choice.

                                                                          I like the Minneapolis farmer's market, too, but wouldn't cross town for it, particularly since part of the point of a farmers market is to support local farmers and for it to be an integral part of your community, sort've a place where you, like Josh, make it part of your weekly shopping routine and develop relationships with the merchants. The non-local things I can't get in my farmers market, I can pick up at my neighborhood co-op.

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                          1. re: Josh Resnik

                                                                            That was a great post. Thanks, Josh.

                                                                            1. re: Josh Resnik

                                                                              I tried the hot dago because everyone says it's so great-and I didn't think it was. It was big-but it had soggy bread and a lot of red sauce. I also think that Chipotle is good-so judge me if you want to. Manana is fantastic-but Chipotle still does it for me every time.

                                                                            2. I agree with most of the things Josh said, actually, even though I live in St. Paul. I'm going to go out on an ethnic limb and say that there isn't a decent Scandinavian bakery, let alone restaurant, in the TC. And don't give me any bosh about Scandia or Taste o' Scandinavia. I've been in their kitchens and they are so NOT what the baking should be about that it's sad.
                                                                              Not that we miss too much in the way of traditional Scandinavian (pointedly not Nordic here) food. Lutefisk/Lutfisk tastes as nasty as it sounds, which is about like jellied phone book in white sauce, or with melted fat. Honestly, you could, and perhaps should, skip Scando Xmas food and be none the worse for wear.

                                                                              (climbing down off her rantin' stool)

                                                                              1. I lurk a lot on this board but don't often write but this topic is interesting and it is great to hear everyone's opinions:

                                                                                1. There are a dearth of young-ish urban foodies in general. I really liked the post a few weeks back on a woman who was dating a man that was seriously not a foodie. She wanted to change him. I understood her plight - I have been taken on dates to Applebee's and at the Hard Rock Cafe.

                                                                                2. Why are there no food-bloggers in MN? It is fun to read people's adventures on a daily basis. I challenge you - find more than five written by people in the Twin Cities. Next, search NYC or SF - there are hundreds. Can no one here use technology or are they afraid that their neighbors might find out what they are doing?

                                                                                3. I am getting peeved at MN restaurants leaving ingredients out (especially expensive ones). This week my Pizza Nea left off the pine nuts and my Bar Abilene Gruyere and Artichoke Quesadilla left out the gruyere (or so ir tasted) and any sign of the promised olive relish. My fault for eating at Bar Abilene, but as I said, the men in this city make interesting date location choices.

                                                                                4. Vegetarian Option should not EVER equal Pasta Primavera and I am starting to get tired of Butternut Squash Ravioli. Kudos to the Chambers Kitchen - I had an incredible fluffy Tofu entree with Lily Bulbs there on Friday night. You guessed right, I wasn't on a date.

                                                                                5. I actually think Dara M. at City Pages is a riot. Hate her or love her she is an incredibly vibrant personality to have here in MN. Where would our food-writing be without her? I just wish she held a live chat every week like Tom Sietsema at the Washington Post does. It would be a riot.

                                                                                Ok, enough for now.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: BeckyEO

                                                                                      I don't blog about restaurants because I prefer to spend my money and cook a fantastic meal at home, so ignore my blog if you want since it won't help you. But look if you're interested in seeing a MN food blogger:

                                                                                      www.cooknkate.wordpress.com

                                                                                      1. re: cooknKate

                                                                                        Not restaurant but a very interesting addition. Now where was that original message about there being no food blogs in Minnesota? ;)

                                                                                  1. re: BeckyEO

                                                                                    The first place I ate with my now wife was at Applebee's near Lake Calhoun :-)

                                                                                  2. My theory on why Mpls/St. Paul will never stack up to cities famous for cuisine is one of geography, lifestyle choices, and memories.

                                                                                    As soon as an area starts to receive adequate traffic, rents rise and the local restaurants that made it so appealling are replaced by chains. That's why I cringed when my home street East Lake started to get its makeover.

                                                                                    A second point about geography is that everything is too spread out which favors chain restaurants...I mean, people go to Southdale for "good food."

                                                                                    The lifestyle comment is from direct experience. Family and friends that opted to live and settle in places like San Francisco and Manhatten are in no hurry to have kids and have a lot more time and money to spend on eating out. It's not that we don't have tastebuds here or don't know what good food is, we just don't have the demand to keep the really great food around. I know that the only time I get a chance to eat at a "nice" restaurant is for business and it's tough to take chances when you are trying to please about 10 different viewpoints...hence you settle for safe. The best food I've had is in obscure restaurants on University or East Lake or in random strip malls with cheap enough rents to allow family-run restaurants to survive. If I want fine cuisine, I'll go on a trip without my kids.

                                                                                    The last point about memories is just from personal experience. Having lived in Japan for a year, I'll never like the food here as well as I did there because it doesn't satisfy my other senses in thee same way... Also, the first time you try something that blows your mind it sets a standard that will never be met...

                                                                                    1. I gotta agree with a lot of what's been said, also regarding lightening up on the authenticity issue. But also, man, I gotta agree with Kate that there is a lot of bad, frozen and reheated or just boring and bland and SYSCO systems food out there in this city. It is depressing. You really have to seek stuff out and then know ONE dish on the menu and stick with that. Too much frozen and not prepared food, or prepared by a 16 year old throwing stuff togehter. It's depressing.

                                                                                      1. I just found the Twin Cities food blog thread but it's in the Food Media area, not here. I'd love to hear more about people's favorite blogs so either people could post there or we could start a new thread here.

                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/325986

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: katebauer

                                                                                          here's mine... and let me preface this by saying the following. I am new to the area and have really appreciate the recommendations here. 90% i would say are as good as promised, but the one that that misses seems to be the one that EVERYONE adores..

                                                                                          Broders Pasta Bar. Been there three times because I though my first two visits may have just been chance breakdowns in service. But it has gotten progressively worse each time. Each of my visits has been characterized by the following

                                                                                          1) Horrible service. quite slow with a bad attitude from the waitstaff
                                                                                          2) Extremely overcooked pasta. You would think that a pasta bar could figure this out.

                                                                                          Needless to say, there won't be a fourth visit. If I want good italian foods, I'll go to Biaggis in Eden Prairie Center or Buca di Beppo downtown before i even consider Broders.

                                                                                          1. re: DukeFan

                                                                                            Wow, this should get some responses. Did you just equate not-overcooked pasta with two chain restaurants? Good controversy statement though!

                                                                                            1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                              Well, since we're on the topic of properly cooked pasta, I will say that the
                                                                                              last time I went to Broder's deli, I was shocked at the pasta salads,
                                                                                              which had extremely undercooked pasta in them, like someone soaked
                                                                                              raw pasta in some warm water for a few minutes, then made the salad.
                                                                                              More like 'al dentist' than 'al dente'. And now I'm doing low carbs, so it's
                                                                                              all just a memory.

                                                                                              1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                To be clear, I am not necessarily recommending those chains; my point was that my experience there was much better than Broders.. (Actually as far as chains go, Biaggis is probably close to the top)

                                                                                                1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                  And to be fair, the Buca downtown is different from the ones in the suburbs, at least the ones I've been dragged to.

                                                                                                  1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                    I would have to disagree and say Buca is mush no matter what location you go to.

                                                                                                    1. re: SW Chowen

                                                                                                      And I disagree with you and agree with Loren that the flagship location is indeed better.

                                                                                                      1. re: SW Chowen

                                                                                                        Maybe it's uppsncouth, but I have a lot of nice memories of birthdays and dinners with my fellow teachers at Buca's. I know it's a chain and not "supposed to be good" but I like the Chicken Marsala, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans with lemon. It can still be fun under the right circumstances.

                                                                                                      2. re: Loren3

                                                                                                        I'm on the all Bucas are the same bandwagon. I've only been to the one downtown, downtown in Milwaukee and Chicago (Wrigleyville). But yeah, the pasta is overcooked at all of them EXCEPT the ravioli which they do a good job with @ Harmon.

                                                                                                        However, I am a big lover of Broder's and Michael Rostance, so...

                                                                                                    2. re: DukeFan

                                                                                                      Eeks. I have never, ever had anything other than al dente pasta at Border's.

                                                                                                  2. Here is my controversy, and I am just throwing it out there:

                                                                                                    Famous Dave's is terrible barbecue. Rudolph's is terrible barbecue. Market is terrible barbecue. Ted Cook's is terrible barbecue.

                                                                                                    That doesn't mean I have not eaten at all of them, but they are all eaten at in times of barbecue desperation.

                                                                                                    19 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                      You've had Big Daddy's BBQ, right? Sold out of this abandoned restaurant? Only seasonal? Lines out the door? Definitely the best I've had, in MSP. Maybe the best I've had ever.

                                                                                                      1. re: cleanyerplate

                                                                                                        It's actually year-round, but Saturdays only. Big Daddy sets up in the former Abundant Bistro at University & Dale -- he has a big permanent sign up so it's easy to spot. Worth a trip from pretty much anywhere in the metro, IMHO.

                                                                                                        1. re: cleanyerplate

                                                                                                          To add to what mcgeary said, here's a "running" Big Daddy thread with recent'ish updates and photos and such.

                                                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30611...

                                                                                                          Also, Big Daddy's BBQ was a candidate in the BBQ taste-off/chowdown this past fall--here's more info on that here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448772

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            I have never been too thrilled with Cosetta's either. It's right by my job, and so cute, but I just don't like it. My sister makes me drop her off and drive around the block so she can get some tiramasu to go-she thinks there's is great. I'm embaressed to say that I like Olive Garden Tiramasu. pretty scary.

                                                                                                            1. re: jenniegirl

                                                                                                              Jenniegirl, You've never been thrilled by the restaurant, the grocery or either?

                                                                                                              I think they have wonderful cheeses, deli meats, and breads in the grocery. Plus, a terrific array of dried pastas, olive oils and such. Not as much as they have at Buon Giorno, but given the teensy space they have for the grocery at Cossetta's, they do a good job, I think. Plus, they have parking.

                                                                                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40901...

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                I'd have to respectfully disagree about their cheese department. They have a limited selection, their prices are not low, and the care and feeding of their cheeses isn't good-- we have seen some gorgonzola in terrible shape and some parm reg quite dried out.

                                                                                                                1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                  Ah, I've only bought the mozzarella and one other (mentioned in the link I posted previously--can't remember off-hand and can't be bothered to read my thread again_ and both were lovely. I guess I didn't notice how they stored it as it was in perfect shape for us at the time we bought it. And, yes, it's a small shop--the selection of everything is limited even the cheese. I'd be hard pressed to call it a "cheese department". It's a deli counter in a small shop. I expect to pay a premium for the convenience of shopping right downtown, so I wasn't bargain hunting --I thought it was fairly priced.

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I am glad that what you bought was great. Maybe I was generous in calling it a cheese department, but I couldn't think of something smaller without sounding pejorative. I guess I just wanted to say I wouldn't make a special trip there thinking they have lots of wonderful Italian cheese.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                      I like the pecorino from Cossetta's. Is it the best pecorino I've ever had? No, but it's better than the stuff at my local co-op.

                                                                                                                      Anne

                                                                                                                      1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                        Came back in to say : sorry, didn''t mean to be crabby--hard day at work. But, I see you've already beaten me back to the thread. Whoops. :) .

                                                                                                                        It's fair to say they have some wonderful cheese and some wonderful other things. But, you're right--t's a small shop. It's right downtown, so it's pricier than say, a grocery store buried in a neighborhood. The two cheeses we had were outstanding, but it was a one-time deal for us on the cheese, so, maybe the rest of the cheese isn't good.

                                                                                                                        All normal "your mileage may vary" caveats apply. :)

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I just always feel claustrophic there-it's too crowded for me. Lunchtime and on weekends it's just packed. Maybe I'll take another look-it's been a few years. I have liked looking at the market, I've just never bought anything there. I had the chicken marsala once, and thought it was overpriced and kind of salty. I had sausage ad peppers and pizza before and each time I just felt like I wanted to like it, but it just wasn't that great.

                                                                                                                  3. re: jenniegirl

                                                                                                                    Do yourself a favor and try the tiramisu at Buon Giorno Express (prob. the same as at the bigger Buon Giorno). It's the best I've had in the TCs, possibly in the USA.

                                                                                                              2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                Are the Famous Dave's different, one from another? I ask because I have only been to one of them (a couple times because my nephew insists) and I thought it was horrid. But when I mentioned that the other day in a group of friends, some of them really took issue.

                                                                                                                Probably just a difference in tastes. Or are they different?

                                                                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                  I think what people really like are the sauces at FD. The meat quality and true "BBQ-ness" isn't that great but the sauces stand out IMO. They are fairly award winning too so I know I'm not alone. Both the Rich and Sassy and the Devil's Spit are very good if you ask me.

                                                                                                                  The sides are pretty decent too. I really like their fries. Their baked beans are more interesting than most and I have no complaints about their cole slaw. Their corn is terrible. Their corn bread is soggy but a guilty pleasure.

                                                                                                                  1. re: babaoriley7

                                                                                                                    i think it should be said that famous dave's does slow smoke its bbq, which is more than can be said for a lot of local q places. it's rare for me to go to bat for a chain, but i think that the calhoun sq. location serves some decent q if you know what to order-- it's the takeout choice for most chicago transplants over our local independent establishments at any rate. for all i know some of the other dave's locations in the burbs may be decent, i dunno i suppose it would depend on the mgmt.

                                                                                                                2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                  Generally you are right except I have to tkae issue with your tkae on Ted Cook's. Over the years I have eaten there a lot and I have only had I bad rack. I regularly order the Beef ribs so that may be the difference.

                                                                                                                  Famous Dave's is hit and miss. I have had some truly great ribs at FD and some jerky on the bone. I think the Uptown flagship is pretty reliable but osme of the Suburban locations are probably being staffed by people who have never had good BBQ and have to rely on their experiences there.

                                                                                                                  1. re: GastronautMN

                                                                                                                    I ate mostly at the Uptown one, although occcasionally had food brought into my clinic in Maple Grove-- found them to be both equally subpar. I haven't eaten at Ted Cook's over the years, only twice, and found the sauce to be way too overpowering for my personal taste-- and once they forgot some stuff that I paid for, and when I called the man on the other end (who I think was Ted Cook, as my husband said there was no one else there) could not have cared less if he had tried. I know my opinions are unpopular, and completely biased as I am comparing them to Memphis and Texas where I used to live. I totally agree with all the people who said, "Shut Up!! You live in MN so cannot expect your 'fill-in-the-food' to be as good as you had it in 'fill-in-the-place,' and I try hard not to do the whole name-dropping thing about where I used to live. I genuinely LOVE the TC, and love our food scene, and love all our little chef-driven and hole-in-the-wall ethnic places. On the other hand, the OP asked, and this is my secret peeve. Well... I guess not-so-secret now. :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                      For Ted Cook's consider getting the sauce in the side a la Memphis (although if I said anything like "a la" in Memphis BBQ joint I am taking my life in my hands) and ask for Jojo Potatos extra crispy.

                                                                                                                      There is plenty to pick on with Famous Dave's. I have had meals that were damn near perfect and many more where they were not. I used to live near the Uptown one in the Mid 90s and I think they had a real high attention to detail since it was right around the time they were launch nationally and it was their flagship. The rib tips and fries used to be the best deal in town.

                                                                                                                      I know have my own smoker so I don't go out for BBQ as much as I used to.

                                                                                                                      Another BBQ joint to avoid is Scott Jamama. I really would like to love this place, but they are really hit and miss and I think their BBQ sauce tastes like raisins and molasses.

                                                                                                                      1. re: GastronautMN

                                                                                                                        scott jamama's is not bbq. he does not use smoke. it is grill food. with some sauce. not the same thing at ALL.

                                                                                                                        cheeseguy's girl i feel your pain about tc q, i do. but it's getting better, slowly. . .

                                                                                                                3. Cossetta's is not good. Maybe lots of people agree with this, I don't know, but of the people I know who have eaten there, everybody loves it but me.

                                                                                                                  The Edina D'Amico & Sons is the only one worth eating at.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: amgarrison

                                                                                                                    I like the market at Cossetta's. The restaurant itself doesn't knock my socks off, but it's a good place to take kids, I think.

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      I agree with that. The market is pretty fantastic, but the food at the restaurant is no good.

                                                                                                                  2. This thread is right up my alley. When we moved to the twin cities area from Chicago a couple years ago I made the mistake of posting a few questions about where to find good food and had the audacity to state how disappointed I had been with what I found so far. I was nearly chained to a stockade and stoned by the folks on this board that will defend their beloved very bland and very over priced favorites. I’ve already seen this thread make several defenses and it is supposed to be a thread where it is acceptable to challenge the land of the bland…..right?

                                                                                                                    With that said, someone from this board recently posted that pizza is never as good as what you grew up with…oh so true! Someone else posted…”And, to really annoy those with local roots... The only circumstances under which pizza should be cut into squares are those where the pizza itself is a square.” Having roots in Chicago, a city undisputedly famous for pizza, where there are primarily two types, stuffed (NOT deep dish as many want to call it) and thin (NOT cracker crust as many want to call it), thin crust pizzas are indeed cut into squares if done properly, unless of course you are from New York, where you have to wipe the grease off before you can eat it…LOL

                                                                                                                    I agree with others that disappointment with food here often turns into a comparison of elsewhere. Why is this wrong? Many transplants enjoy living here except for one thing….the food. Why is it wrong for them to want this town to have better food so they can be fulfilled living here? Not everyone enjoys previously frozen walleye for $25. Perhaps it is the complacency of not being exposed to food outside MSP that has caused this town to be so lacking in good food as another poster stated? I’ll really stir up the locals and suggest that perhaps this theory is so dead on that there isn’t anything outstanding here, not to mention at reasonable prices like other cities, and thus the reason to compare to other cities?

                                                                                                                    Someone asked us to bring a hot dish shortly after we arrived in town. We had to ask, what kind of hot dish, thinking vegetables, potatoes, etc. What were thinking asking a question like that? For those that haven’t learned the local vernacular, Hot Dish is a term used by people that can’t spell casserole.

                                                                                                                    What’s with the taco salad made with Western or French salad dressing? YUK! Food on a stick?…..really?

                                                                                                                    My biggest disappointment is that all of the food discussed on this board and apparently the only place to find edible food in this area is located in the city. Believe it or not, there do exist people in the suburbs who cannot tolerate chain food! Why is this town so embracing of the chain food? Why don’t one-off restaurants stand a chance in suburbia? Why are our only choices for groceries and especially year round produce, from big boxes who are not competitive and not fresh/ripe? Why haven’t the immigrants opened any smaller Supermercado’s, etc to compete with these big boxes and give us some lower prices and better selections?

                                                                                                                    Sorry I got so wordy.

                                                                                                                    23 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                        Perhaps Musky_Hunter just wants to vent. There's nothing wrong with that - venting is good. And this is the thread for it.

                                                                                                                        But in case he/she also wants some tips, here are some more:

                                                                                                                        Apple Valley:
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/125172
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/342866

                                                                                                                        Blaine:
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49224...

                                                                                                                        Brooklyn Center:
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/124764

                                                                                                                        Hwy 13 Eagan-to-Savage corridor (South Asian markets):
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/125172

                                                                                                                        Spring Lake Park:
                                                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477848

                                                                                                                        So, there isn't a wealth of choice, as there might be if suburban planners actually encouraged small starter businesses rather than monster chains, but at least there are a few places scattered here and there. Mostly in the inner-ring, older suburbs, but change is slowly creeping outwards. (Like Satay2Go in Apple Valley, hooray!!!)

                                                                                                                        Anne

                                                                                                                      2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                        M.H. were there a lot of great restaurants a long ways outside of chicago? i mean, aren't you pretty far out, like in savage or something? i wouldn't even call that the "twin cities area." i feel bad that there's such cruddy food choices in your area, but i'd never move into such a far out rural area, myself, and then complain that there are no restaurants-- that just doesn't make any sense.

                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                          Savage is a town in the outer suburbs of less than 22,000 people. How many restaurant can a tiny little town like that support? Even so, Savage is within driving drivable to a few decent Mexican places and that Russian Grocery in Burnsville and such, which, I think is pretty dang good, actually, considering.

                                                                                                                          Musky_Hunter explained his reasons for living in Savage (having to do with his boat--needing a place to store it or access to water or something along those lines), in his expressing disappointment post "MSP – Getting excited about overpriced mediocre food?."

                                                                                                                          His follow-up OP to that one, if I recall, was one regarding his own excitement about the opening of Fogo de Chao, which is a chain. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39045...

                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            TDQ, soupkitten, et al, you make it sound like Savage is an island in the middle of Iowa or something. Savage is essentially the same as Burnsville, Apple Valley, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Columbia Heights, Inver Grove Heights, etc. etc. etc. I am within walking distance of Savage and it's a typical suburb. The only difference is the layout of Savage requires you an extra couple of miles than many of those other places to get over to 169, 35W or Cedar Ave bridge across the river.

                                                                                                                            While Musky says he was "nearly chained to a stockade and stoned", I recall the vast majority of posts saying, "be patient...this isn't Chicago or SF or NYC or DC where you can't trip and fall without hitting your head on a chowish joint". The "find me a place for $80 a couple" challenge received a whole bunch of immediate, great replies to no avail.

                                                                                                                            While I want to respect Musky's opinion and don't completely disagree with some of his points, or those of others in this thread that are kind of frustrating, I do find the comment about ethnic groceries/food sources other than big box chains kind of laughable. Savage, Eagan, Burnsville and their immediate environs have more standalone ethnic grocery stores than anywhere else in the metro area, including downtown, per capita. There are no less than 10 asian markets, including a behemoth Asian grocery store right on the border of Burnsville/Savage on Highway 13 that would rival United Noodle. We have Russian markets, a Thai grocery, a handful of Mexican groceries, Italian, Indian, Halal, a wonderful co-op...not to mention dozens of CSA dropoff sites that include beef, pork, chicken, cheese, coffee, fruit and vegetable shares. Dakota County does St. Paul Farmers Market satellite sites in all of the cities down here throughout the summer. My morning bike ride takes me past pick-your-own berries, sources for heirloom vegetables and not too far from some of the local dairies mentioned on another recent thread. Granted, I'm a prolific cyclist, but you're talking 15 minutes from Savage in a car to farms.

                                                                                                                            I guess my "most controversial food opinion" is that the food here (not just restaurants) measures up just fine compared to anywhere else in the country.

                                                                                                                            And, by the way, I am a transplant to MSP from "the big city" as well.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                              MSPD, I agree with everything you've said. Thanks for fleshing out the chowish stops that are very accessibly drivable from Savage, which was a point I was attempting to make, but didn't have as many specifics to support because I don't get over that way as often as I probably should. (But, my better half does--and tells me all about it.) However, I would still not call it an "inner" suburb, like Bloomington or St. Louis Park, which seem to practically share a border with either Mpls or St. P. And it is only a town of 22,000 people. So, yes, you might have to drive (or cycle) a little farther to reach the chowish stops--but, yes, they are still there. And really, they just aren't that far away.

                                                                                                                              And, yes, I agree with you that the chow here measures up fine compared to anywhere else in the country. The things that we do best here are as good as the things other places do best; it's just that they might be different things. You have to be willing to be flexible. But, that is the case for anywhere you go anywhere in the world. You have to go with the flow and, if you do, I honestly believe you will find great chow.

                                                                                                                              This, to me, is the essense of being a chowhound. Trying to find the best chow whereever you are. It's not just about eating great food. It's about the discovery process of finding what's great. It's about being willing to try and love new things.

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                Yep, you hit it square on. And I did try to be very careful not to call it an "inner" suburb and chose the suburbs I listed carefully.

                                                                                                                                I've posted many times that I periodically get frustrated, like MH, that we don't have what the "big cities" have (e.g. bagel, cheesesteak, hot pretzel, NY style corned beef, sable vendor, Mission style burrito, etc.) anywhere in MSP. I also get a little peeved sometimes that I don't have a dozens of incredible taco joints in a 10 mile radius like I had elsewhere if I'm in the mood. I know where there are one or two great ones and I drive right on over. Bonus if they're in my hood (they're not).

                                                                                                                                But as soon as the whining about what we don't have becomes my prevailing attitude vs. incentive to take a vacation to a "big city" from time to time, I should pretty much excuse myself from Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                Personally, after 18 years of living here, I haven't even scratched the surface of what there is to eat in this town. I don't think I ever will.

                                                                                                                              2. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                                really? thanks for putting me straight about the great access to ethnic groceries in savage, MSPD-- as you can tell i don't get down there often and i don't know. it goes to prove that if you seek, you will find, even in the burbs. what gets me is that M.H. seems to want everything in the city to pull up stakes and move out to savage, and as TDQ points out there's only 20,000-some people in that particular burb, and it may have achieved saturation for a lot of markets. everyone else in the burbs, including my mom, dh's gram, etc. come into msp proper to meet their dining and food shopping needs if they so desire-- it's a trade-off when living outside of a city-- you get a bigger garden/lawn, and less restaurant selection.

                                                                                                                                M.H. have you visited any of MSPD's great chow tips?

                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                  I don't recall stating I want the city to relocate to a town I live in that some think is equal to living in Iowa as someone else pointed out. Why must so many people on this board turn someone's comments into extremes? I have been to one of the Asian markets listed above. I found it when we were seeking banana leaves to braise some pork with because they are not available in the big boxes. Of course I had to drive to one place to get the pork, another for the banana leaves, and yet another for the Mexican peppers we needed. This is a good example of the point I'm trying to make. I have better things to do than to drive to three and sometimes four markets to get what I need for a single meal, especially at $3.00/gal. Perhaps a picture or two would serve to help create a vision for what is possible.

                                                                                                                                  When I say I would like to see more ethnic markets, I didn't mean specific to only one ethnicity. In many big cities there are markets that compete with big boxes on a smaller scale with a broader selection and lower price points. For example, in Chicago, Butera, Woodman's, and Caputo's Markets to name a few have opened up to serve people who are sick and tired of the prices, quality and poor variety at Jewel and Dominicks, the equal to Rainbow and Cub here. Here's a link with a few pictures of what it looks like in inside a Caputo’s. http://caputomarkets.com/cgi-bin/cust...

                                                                                                                                  You will see entire isles full of Italian imported cakes, Italian deli meats, fresh produce in so many varieties you would have to go to three different markets to replicate in my area, etc. etc. This is all under the roof of a fairly small store by comparison to a Rainbow. What makes it unique to this market is that it Asian, Italian, Russian, Mexican to name a few are all essentially all under one roof at a great price, like lemons 10 for $1.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                    I'm so confused MH--I can't tell whether you're advocating for more independents or for more chains. In this thread you start out by saying "Believe it or not, there do exist people in the suburbs who cannot tolerate chain food! Why is this town so embracing of the chain food? Why don’t one-off restaurants stand a chance in suburbia? "

                                                                                                                                    And yet, one of your earliest posts on this board was one announcing the advent of a big chain, Fogo de Chao.

                                                                                                                                    And now, when MSPD gives you a nice list of independent little specialty and ethnic groceries and markets within reasonable driving distance of Savage, you say these little places aren't big and diverse enough for you. What you really want, are markets like you had in Chicago and you list these:

                                                                                                                                    Caputo's=7 locations =Chain
                                                                                                                                    Butera=10 locations=Chain
                                                                                                                                    Woodman's=12 locations=Chain

                                                                                                                                    Personally, I like visiting my independent butcher, my indie cheesemonger, my indie baker, my indie seafood monger, my CSA farmer, my indie dairy supplier and so on. Yes, I have to make several stops to assemble a single meal, which is why I live in a city so they are all reasonably accessible by walking, cycling or on my route to or from work. (Or, often, all in one place at one time--at the Farmers' Market or Midtown Global Market and, to an extent, my neighborhood co-op). This specialty/artisan small shop approach is also how it is in Paris and Greece and Istanbul and San Francisco and in the small towns all over Europe and Asia...and so on.

                                                                                                                                    Behemoth, generalist independents, I guess, is what you're seeking. I just don't know that those exist here. Or the city I moved from either. Maybe they uniquely exist in Chicago.

                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                      So I if I like one chain one time per year, ala FDC then I'm not in favor of small establishments? Why do I have to be a pureist? Is there somehting similar to FDC in this city that is not owned by a corporation?

                                                                                                                                      BTW, Butera and Cupto's are owned by families who live in the area in very modest neighborhoods. You will often find them working in one of the stores, very hands on. While they do have multiple locations, I would say they are hardly chains as we see everyday owned by corporations.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                        No, I'm just saying you're all over the place. Simultaneously loving and loathing chains. You say you're not averse to driving, but then say you're annoyed at having to make three different stops at indie ethnic markets to prepare a meal. You don't want people to take your comments to extremes, yet you said we practically stockaded you and stoned you for simply expressing disappointment... It's very hard to help guide you to where you'll like the chow, that's all.

                                                                                                                                        I think we have great grocers here. No, they aren't dirt cheap. We discussed that in the other thread. Plus, produce prices have spiked tremendously in the last year--all over the country, including in Chicago. If multiple locations are okay with you, Kowalski's and Byerly's are really quite nice. We have Whole Foods and Trader Joes (if international chains are okay with you, which, apparently, they sometimes are). We have fantastic co-ops (The Wedge and Mississippi Market). We have fantastic CSA's. We have fantastic farmers markets.

                                                                                                                                        What we don't have is the Sears Tower or John Hancock Building or Lake Michigan or Chuck Trotter or Lake Michigan.

                                                                                                                                        Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore. You can click your heels until your heels go raw, or you can try to figure out what there is to like here. Maybe you don't have to love it all, but perhaps you may find you don't need to hate it all, either.

                                                                                                                                        Look, I'm not alone when I say I, too, miss my former home, a very chowish city with a huge variety of glorious local produce nearly year-end, wonderful artisan bakers and cheese makers and chocolatiers and jam makers and artisan tofu-makers and olive oil makers and dock-side seafood vendors and Michelin rated chefs and so on. There are foods that were part of my daily life for decades that I simply cannot get here that I still crave (and these are things you can't get in Chicago either, by the way). But, I haven't let my love for my former home town stop me from exploring and coming to love what we have here that's wonderful. Not everything is a sparkling gem, but the gems are there if you're willing to search through the pile of stones. Again, this is what it is to be a chowhound.

                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                      awesome. you liked these stores in chicago, where you lived previously. you now live in a wealthy suburb of the twin cities with a population that's literally less that 1% of chicago's and less than 2% of that number are minorities, and now you have to drive to 3 stores rather than getting a one stop ethnic shopping experience. i fail to fathom what's surprising about that.

                                                                                                                                      the photos you've provided look similar to united noodle, shuang hur, dragonstar or many of the larger mexican groceries on lake street, holy land, patel's etc. these are in the city, where the population can certainly support them, but MSPD cites one large asian grocery store and many other smaller stores that are close to you. thanks for the "vision of what is possible," but we already shop at these places in the city. you can too-- unless you'd rather continue your kvetching about the price of out of season citrus in a competitive market six hours north of the crossroads of america's shipping routes (you will never get citrus as cheap as 10/$1 here, for obvious geographical reasons, sorry if msp will never be cool because of high citrus prices). come on. surely someone told you that there would be lifestyle changes involved when you move from a city of 3 mil to a town of 20,000, just as would be true if it were the opposite.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                        I've had enough. You win. BTW, all of those stores are at least 20 miles, some more than 30 miles from the "city" out in the suburbs, some with less than pops of 30,000...but you are right.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                          The only winning on this board is finding the good chow, MH. And frankly, none of us will feel we've won until all the seekers find the chow of their dreams. When you figure out what your requirements are for good chow, please let us know and, again, we'll attempt to point you towards it. And, of course, the more exploring you do on your own in your own neck of the woods, the more you might make discoveries you can share will those of us who are less familiar with that area.

                                                                                                                                          20, 30 miles from the "city" here often doesn't put you in the 'burbs, it puts you on a farm (or in Wisconsin). Again, it's hard to compare the food scene in a farm town with the food scene in a suburb. That's yet another difference between living in the second largest city in the country and in a mid-tier city.

                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                            This goes along with "This is a good example of the point I'm trying to make. I have better things to do than to drive to three and sometimes four markets to get what I need for a single meal, especially at $3.00/gal"...you chose to live in an area without the population density to sustain this type of commerce, then you blame it on the city and gas prices? I'm so confused.

                                                                                                                                            Presumably, if you lived in Lily Lake or Plano or Millbrook you'd have had the same problems. I'm all for boats, but someone invented trailers and storage garages to help you avoid this dilema. If the market were better, I'd suggest moving on into our neighborhood. We have all the things you want and streets you can drive your boat trailer down.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                                                              One other detail about the Twin Cities' suburbs is that we're one of the northern plains states. Duh, right? But it means that growth from the city centers diffuses outward in ALL directions because the expansion is not bounded by a water's edge or a mountain range.

                                                                                                                                              In Savage, the population was estimated to grow 25% between 2000 and 2005, mostly by re-zoning farmland for new construction. It was more than 90% white in 2000, and is a town for married couples and families where 93% of the workers drive to work ... likely to shop on the commute and eat at home.

                                                                                                                                              None of this is a secret to the homebuyers, nor to the folks writing business plans for their next restaurant or grocery.

                                                                                                                                              What would attract enough of a diverse population that the food businesses would follow them out of Minneapolis or St. Paul? With so little to distinguish it from Lino Lakes or Ramsey or Shakopee or Coon Rapids, what is the risk/reward proposition for trying that in Savage?

                                                                                                                                              Given how long Copper Bleu lasted, I'd say it's risk and more risk. People choose to live in the suburbs for lots of terrifically valid reasons but each one of those is balanced by a tradeoff. Risk-averse food options are part of the tradeoff for cheap new housing.

                                                                                                                                              Data sources:
                                                                                                                                              http://minnesota.publicradio.org/disp...
                                                                                                                                              http://www.citytowninfo.com/places/mi...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                Fascinating, thank you for that info KTFoley. Who knew all of that info was out there for the googling!

                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                  KT, Copper Bleu was one of my favorites. I was devastated when they closed. Looking back, I wish I had followed through on telling the owner/management that they were missing the mark on identifying their market. I took a friend there one night just before they closed (before I knew they were closing) and he asked me if they offered blue light specials for the seniors. (not that catering to seniors is a bad thing, but it wasn't the market they should have been targeting.) And, I apologize for the tangent, but I hate losing a good restaurant.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                i don't want to "win"! i want you to find food that makes you happy! it's frustrating that it seems like you'd rather complain than explore, when there is *great* food to be had in msp.

                                                                                                                                                most folks i know who've moved here from chicago initially have a hard time understanding that there are cities on earth where there aren't great italian and thai joints on every corner. when they get around to the wealth of vietnamese restaurants they often regret the time they spent regretting. most people from nyc spend the first year mourning bagels and knishes. . . and eventually they decide to walk into a mexican bakery, just to see if there is something worthwhile. and their minds are blown. they suddenly see all the little places they've been driving past to get to the freeway. msp is not going to offer every single thing, food-wise, that chicago does, and when it does offer it, it's going to be maybe 2 places, not 50, or they might be very small establishments rather than huge ones. as MSPD says you're going to get some misses, but that doesn't mean you won't find what you are looking for out there.

                                                                                                                                                i'm worried you're not eating food that makes you happy M.H. i'm trying to help, i just come off like a big meanie sometimes. i think everybody's trying to help. it's a whole bunch of good people who will be so happy to finally read your post when you find a great store or great restaurant that makes you happy, that you *couldn't* find at home in chicago. you know?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                  Agree with soupkitten--(as I said above--or is it below--this thread is getting really confusing) we all just want to help you find the chow you'll be happy with! That's what "winning" would be for me, anyway. If we could steer you toward some food that met your requirements...

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                              Musky, maybe this is pointless at this juncture, but I commisurate with you missing Butera, Woodman's and Caputo's. I really do feel your pain and vent such on here from time to time.

                                                                                                                                              I miss the sand between my toes. I miss mingling with WWF wrestlers at Angie's in Fairfax, VA in the late 80s. I miss the Empire State Building. I miss catching squid and lobsters and flounder by the dozen off the Navy Pier in Middleton, RI as a boy. I miss my 1922 story-and-a-half on St. Clair in Mac-Groveland. I miss Katz's Deli. I miss Luigi's in Ambleside in England's Lake District.

                                                                                                                                              But those things don't make the south metro devoid and all the food in MSP bland and overpriced. One just has nothing to do with another is all people are saying. Sure, it's great to watch the sun set over Mallory Square in Key West. But a sunset over the gently sloping cornfields of Lakeville while I'm out on a bike ride can be pretty spectacular and transforming too. Yeah...it was great to get all of my world class bread, wine, chocolate, caviar, olive oil, cheese and petit fours in one fell swoop in the Ferry Building in San Francisco a few weeks ago. But that is no more a reality in 99.999% of the places on this earth than the Sears Tower suddenly sprouting up next to Highway 13. Why would that even enter my mind, save for a fleeting moment of nostalgia?

                                                                                                                                              All people are saying is that it takes a hell of a lot longer to find what's good and reliable where and you're jumping to some pretty big generalizations without doing the due diligence. Some may call it regional pride, but I think it's just the reality that great food doesn't reach out and grab you by the balls here. Everything has misses here -- you just have to massage your relationship and work out the hits.

                                                                                                                                              Let me put it this way...I'm assuming your screen name and your mention of a boat has to do with fishing. Anyway, I understand it takes about 1,000 casts to get one muskie bite and 10,000 to land one. Give or take, I know muskie fishermen up in Walker, MN area that are happy to get one a year. What if you had a son or daughter who came out with you and after 50 casts said, "I've tried everything and this kind of fishing is just boring and pointless". Would you say, "Yeah, you're right. Let's just give up." or try and impress upon him or her the exhilaration that patience and persistence reaps when you boat one.

                                                                                                                                              Some call it regional pride, but to me it's more being honest about our situation. We're not a city of instant gratification. Things happen slower here, and it's especially evident when you move from a big city (I remember the feeling). Personally, I'll take that lifestyle. But there are no less trophy fish in these waters.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                Caputos opened its first store in 1958 and didn't even move out of the original building, much less add another location, until 1986. In fact, they didn't start an import line until 1984.

                                                                                                                                                That's 26-28 years of holding steady before they grew, plus another 24 years of expansion to where they are today. They didn't just plop themselves down on the prairie.

                                                                                                                                                Give Savage et al the same decades of maturation that the Elmwood Park vegetable market underwent, and THEN there might be valid comparisons between Chicagoland communities and Twin Cities suburbs.

                                                                                                                                    3. Sadly, I let myself get sucked into this discussion. I should have known better. I do in fact live in the south suburbs and I agree it is disturbing that the city planners cater to the big boxes and don't create opportunities for little one-off entrepreneurs.

                                                                                                                                      This thread was supposed to be an opportunity to voice what you think is overrated and as expected, it is not acceptable on this board to actually do just that. Just because I live in the suburbs does not mean my car is limited to the suburbs. We have eaten at many of the places promoted on this board and unfortunately, I also found them to be overpriced and overrated.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                        You expressed your controversial opinion that above that "the only place to find edible food in this area is located in the city" and that "there do exist people in the suburbs who cannot tolerate chain food" and Anne and I provided you with some links to threads discussing non-chain restaurants in the suburbs to help you out (I'm sorry if you found all of those restaurants in those links not to your liking), as well as a reminder of your own excited post about a new "all you can eat" chain restaurant opening in downtown Minneapolis. That's hardly is saying that voicing your controversial comment is "unacceptable"; rather, I like to think of that as discussion. Of course you are entitled to your opinion; but that doesn't mean we have to share it (or let it stand without comment), just as I don't have to share your love for an all you can eat chain restaurant. This variety of opinion is what makes Chowhound, and life, interesting.

                                                                                                                                        Satay2Go in Apple Valley, for instance, is one of the most affordable eats in the Twin Cities. Maybe you think it's overrated, but I don't know how you can say it's overpriced. Mavericks in Roseville, same thing. I could keep recommending establishments (I'm not "promoting" them or "touting" as you called it in your "expressing disappointment" post, by the way, just recommending them based on my personal tastes and experiences), if you find it helpful, but I guess you do not. But, personally, I'd rather eat at these places than at chains or sit at home or on my boat and long for the good old days when I lived elsewhere. To his his own, though. And while I'm throwing out those cliche sayings: love the one you're with, baby.

                                                                                                                                        Oh, and yes indeed, casserole is the French term for hotdish and I suppose it's quite possible that the Scandinavian folks who settled here and from whom many of the Minnesotans who live here today descend couldn't pronounce hotdish. (We're not talking that many generations ago. My friends still having living grandmothers who read Norwegian Bibles.) But, actually, hotdish is likely a translation of the Norwegian varmrett, or “warm dish.” Complain about it all you want, but when you have a big group of farm hands to feed, hotdish is about as hearty and easy as it gets and that is has become comfort food for folks who grew up on Minnesota's farms or whose parents grew up on farms and is easy to bring to a party, especially in the dead cold of winter when you're craving something rib-sticking and warm, is no big surprise. Kinda passe to make fun of hotdish, doncha know, unless you're Garrison Keillor, and then it's a cottage industry.

                                                                                                                                        Next time you're asked to bring a hotdish to a party, may I suggest one of our new favorites: the "Mexican Style Chicken & Quinoa Hot Dish with Smokey Chipotle" that won the hotdish recipe contest at Winter Carnival this year. It's become a favorite in our house, even in 2 short months. I always double the recipe. http://www.winter-carnival.com/client... And we don't use Trader Joe's salsa--we just use whatever salsa and add chipotle (from Penzey's--there's one on Grand Ave in St. Paul) to it.

                                                                                                                                        Finally, here's a link to a subdiscussion about Minnesotans' love for walleye. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43614... And yes, most walleye sold in MN restaurants is frozen due to certain DNR restrictions put in place to protect the dwindling walleye population.

                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                          Hi sorry, me again, one more thing for Musky Hunter. You do say that you're portable, that your car is not limited to the suburbs. And I guess I just have to ask, is that really true? And I'm not trying to be snarky.

                                                                                                                                          I have this standard called "worth driving across town for" and I have to say, many places to me do not meet that standard. That's why I insist on living in the city, because I like to eat out, but am not willing to drive across all the time town to do so. Occasionally, yes, I'll drive across town. But, for the most part, I like to hit the familiar places in my neighborhood. Also, if it's a place I love but that has a line outside of it most of the time (The Nook, Sea Salt Eatery, Hell's Kitchen), it often doesn't meet the "worth standing in line for a half hour" standard either.

                                                                                                                                          I recently at a Los Andes in Minneapolis--a place I would totally recommend, especially if someone posted they were looking for South American food. But, I can tell you right now, as delicious and affordable as it was, it doesn't meet my worth driving across town for standard. If I'm going to be in that part of town anyway or I'm really craving South American food again, I'll go, but it's not going to be in my regular rotation. It's still a good mom and pop restaurant though and I'll continue to recommend it under the right circumstances.

                                                                                                                                          If I really have a craving for something, then I'm more likely to want to go to more effort (drive farther, wait in line longer...) but once I've satisfied my craving, I'm not really willing to do so.

                                                                                                                                          So, a lot of these places we recommend, the little mom and pop ones that may be "affordable", may not be "worth driving across town for." For instance, I just pointed out Satay2Go and Maverick's to you as affordable, solid stops in the suburbs. Worth driving across town for? I never have. I wait until I'm going that way anyway...

                                                                                                                                          I wonder if part of your disappointment in some of the places recommended here is that you do to so much trouble to get there, you're expecting too much of say, a little mom and pop place, or even a more upscale place, where the food might be expensive.

                                                                                                                                          For me, right now, the one "worth driving across town for" restaurant in the Twin Cities is 112 Eatery. But, you'll want a reservation if you're coming from afar and it can get pricey, so I recommend ordering a bunch of small plates to share. I think Tea House is probably worth driving across town for, but I'm a person who really, really craves Chinese food. I wonder if you posed your question that way on the boards what kind of recommendations you'd get?

                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                      2. Very interesting thread. I am a transplant from Rhode Island (been here 3 years), and I certainly wouldn't expect to find clam cakes or lobster roll like I could there. On the other hand, I likely couldn't find a similar tasting clam cake in LA, or DC, or Seattle for that matter. In any area that has a "specialty food", there are going to be many more unique "chowish" places that serve that item in that area then in another city. Same would be true for stuffed crust pizza in Chicago, or crabcakes in Baltimore. It just won't be the same somewhere else. That's why I enjoy traveling and sampling the "local" cuisine!

                                                                                                                                        That being said, although I find many places that I enjoy eating at here, what I find strange is I still can't define what the "specialty" is for the Twin Cities. What do we make here that can't be properly duplicated elsewhere? Perhaps I am missing the obvious, but the "local specialty" that is so unique to many parts of the country I don't know what it is here. Maybe it's not a single food item (and hopefully it isn't walleye or hotdish), but it just seems somewhat odd, doesn't it? Of course, I still love to go out to eat here (and maybe I have just overlooked the obvious), so it's all good...

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: TDS1

                                                                                                                                          A belated welcome to you.

                                                                                                                                          There are a very few things that you can get only in the Twin Cities--say, a jucy lucy. But, there are plenty of things that are unique that originated here that you may also be able to get elsewhere,but still aren't widely available: say, Minnesota grown, hand-harvested wild rice (which is far superior to the cultivated stuff; it's also our state grain) or chokecherry jam. Honeycrisp apples (our state apple), which were invented at the University of Minnesota, are grown in other states now, too, but the locally grown ones are still a delight in fall.

                                                                                                                                          Here's a thread where we talk about a lot of local specialties (and the link in the first posts is a link to an even more extensive thread) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45459...

                                                                                                                                          Deep fried cheese curds aren't unique to Minnesota, but they are pretty unique to the upper midwest, I think. The bundt cake pan was invented here. Lake Superior trout and whitefish and herring and herring roe are unique to the states and provinces that border Lake Superior. I'm going to claim credit for it even though we share the Lake. :). You can get lefse and Lutefisk elsewhere, of course, but it's not widely available.

                                                                                                                                          Also, smelt; rhubarb dishes (rhubarb only grows in places where the ground freezes--so, not everywhere); Southeast Asian cuisine is a genuine specialty here, though, of course, it's available elsewhere; Pearson's salted nut rolls are made in St. Paul and aren't widely available outside of the midwest; hot dago sandwiches; egg coffee, not to mention all of the locally-crafted artisanal cheeses, ice creams, candies (chocolates--Rogue Chocolatier! BT McElrath!--, caramels, cashew nut brittle, flavored marshmallows), beer (Surly's getting huge buzz and you really can't get it outside of a few places in MN, and then there's Summit and Grain Belt, Gluek's etc.)

                                                                                                                                          The state muffin (yeah, we have one), is "blueberry" and there is nothing finer than a Minnesota blueberry in season. Our state mushroom is the morel--and it's pretty fantastic in season. Yep, available elsewhere, but not everywhere, and still pretty special when you can find them. Soon! Soon!

                                                                                                                                          Oh, and caramel rolls the size of your head are a staple of breakfast menus here, which is different from where I came from. I like the ones at Key's--eat with a pat of butter.

                                                                                                                                          Next time you're on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, pop into Golden Fig --they feature all kinds of locally crafted foods. http://www.goldenfig.com/

                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                            Thank you TDQ.

                                                                                                                                            I have lived here my whole life and I am a proud Minnesotan. The constant bashing of our food scene (and many other parts of our awesome state) by transplants drives me crazy. I was recently at a party with a woman who trashed the state, including the food, for four hours. Meanwhile, we ate glorious local lamb from Clancy's.

                                                                                                                                            Guess what people, we are in the middle of the country and in the north. We don't get spectatular seafood. We don't have the population to support hundreds of French restaurants. We don't have a lot of Thai people, so our Thai food isn't the best. Same with Chinese.

                                                                                                                                            But we have awesome stuff. It just isn't the same awesome stuff from where you came from. If you want New York Style pizza, go to New York. If you want awesomely tasty cracker crust square cut pizza, come here. Because I think it is great. Of course, I grew up on it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: churchka

                                                                                                                                              I think the tasty cracker crust square cut pizza is great, too. And I did not grow up on it. ;-).

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                              TDQ,

                                                                                                                                              What a nice and informative reply. That gives me a whole list of thing to search for and try. The caramel rolls sound like a perfect thing to start with.

                                                                                                                                              Ironically when we first moved here they put down mulch in the flower beds and after that we had morels growing in them. At the time, I had no idea what they were until someone showed me a picture. Sadly, I have never seen them grow back since then. Perhaps the neighbors see them first. :)

                                                                                                                                              Blueberries are a favorite of mine. I have had the local version and completely agree they are fantastic. My addiction is red currants, and I was very excited to see they do well here. We planted Red Lake currants (which was also developed at the University of Minnesota), and had our first crop last summer. They are delicious over ice cream.

                                                                                                                                          2. I'd like to go a step further and state that Thai food is completely overrated. Personally, I blame it on the vegetarians (while we're being controversial). Maybe it's fabulous in Thailand--my Thai roommate has made some pretty good stuff--but the stuff I get in restaurants is so mediocre. This goes even more so for Sawatdee.

                                                                                                                                            Other opinions:

                                                                                                                                            -There is no Italian food worth leaving the house for in this town.

                                                                                                                                            -All the restaurants in Dinkytown suck, unless you're getting the student discount + lunch menu at Loring Pasta Bar--at least it's cheap.

                                                                                                                                            -Hotdish can be really good--stop being an elitist snob.

                                                                                                                                            -If you think wild rice is meh, then try to get some freshly harvested because it will blow your mind.

                                                                                                                                            -You're insane if you wait in line for breakfast at Al's Breakfast. Completely insane.

                                                                                                                                            -Brasa is a good idea, but the meat is completely mediocre and the sides are outrageously small (c'mon I could make red beans and rice for 50 people for that price).

                                                                                                                                            -The sushi here is lackluster and very expensive.

                                                                                                                                            -Why isn't the asian/latin fusion fad over with?

                                                                                                                                            -Instead of complaining about how chains are the downfall of cuisine, remember that people like them because they're typically consistent and offer friendly service. I'd would much rather go to California Pizza Kitchen and get a delicious pizza for a reasonable price, served with a smile than be abused by some gutter punk at Pizza Luce for middle-of-the-road-yet-expensive food.

                                                                                                                                            Ok that was a lot of complaining. On the plus side I'll list the places that I consistently leave happy and sated:

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Scott Ja-Mama's Barbecue
                                                                                                                                            3 W Diamond Lake Rd, Minneapolis, MN 55419

                                                                                                                                            Tea House Chinese Restaurant
                                                                                                                                            88 Nathan Ln N, Minneapolis, MN 55441

                                                                                                                                            Anoka Meat and Sausage
                                                                                                                                            478 West Main Street, Anoka, MN 55303

                                                                                                                                            Kramarczuk Sausage Co
                                                                                                                                            215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

                                                                                                                                            Dong Yang Oriental Food
                                                                                                                                            735 45th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

                                                                                                                                            Saigon Restaurant & Bakery - duplicate
                                                                                                                                            601 University Ave, W St Paul, MN

                                                                                                                                            Foodsmart
                                                                                                                                            544 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN

                                                                                                                                            Pyramid's Cafe
                                                                                                                                            4921 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: tasmonia

                                                                                                                                              tasmonia,

                                                                                                                                              Have you been to Osteria I Nonni in Lilydale or D'Amico Cucina? Just curious as I've found I Nonni stacks up well against some well-regarded Italian (or Italian influenced) places in the "big city" like Quince in San Francisco and Frasca in Boulder, CO (how's THAT for controversy??) that I've been to recently. NOTE: I am not saying they are ON PAR or even in the same exact genre, but I Nonni and D'Amico Cucina are Italian places I feel are certainly worth leaving home for.

                                                                                                                                              I tend to agree with you on Thai food which, in my estimation is marked by subtle flavor complexities and fresh ingredients vs. inventiveness and technique. In my several years on this board, I've virtually never posted about Thai or SE Asian cuisines because, like you I'm guessing, I don't appreciate them as much as I do other foods. It's odd because Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines which is also marked by subtlety and freshness (though technique is also remarkable).

                                                                                                                                              I generally agree with you on Dinkytown although Pagoda has upped the ante...have you been there yet? It's not as good as Tea House that you list, though. And I sometimes do wonder if I'm "insane" as I like Al's. But I have a soft spot for a hot, blue collar breakfast and Al's makes a very good one. There isn't anything miraculous about a pancake or eggs benedict, but both of those are above average at Al's (their hollandaise, to me, is perfectly balanced).

                                                                                                                                              Plus, I go there for the theatrics of the place as much as the food, and I like the camraderie and vibe. I can always feel the convivial atmosphere. It also brings back memories of the first go-round of my undergraduate days. All in all, from a pure chow perspective, it's not for everyone. But for me, it's kind of special and I don't mind waiting in line.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the insight.

                                                                                                                                            2. What a wild thread! I live in Brooklyn, but grew up in the Twin Cities and visit often. My fiance lived in Minneapolis for 10 years and we have become serious foodies in the 5 boroughs. We talk a lot about food culture, and culture in general in the Twin Cities, comparing the TC to places we have lived (including London, the Bay Area and NYC). There is a great deal of Minnesotan pride in this thread. That's great. I have really enjoyed watching the TC grow into a better food community. However, my criticism is with Minnesota and the food community is precisely a lack of criticism. What's the matter with complaining and criticism? Doesn't it often make things better? If you say something is bland, doesn't it compel you to eat food that is not bland? I do love dear Dara, but she is such a cheerleader some times. I would love to see her sink her teeth into a place and help identify what is sub par so it can be improved. I think it's only doing a disservice to yourselves, your community and your food experience if you don't eat and respond critically.

                                                                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: chompchomp

                                                                                                                                                why on earth would someone eat bland food and not complain about it? i personally b*&% for days if someone tries to feed me crappy food.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                  the issue of whether reviewers should bother with negative reviews is separate but related to this discussion of TC food culture.

                                                                                                                                                  traditional logic holds that there is no real need for reviewers to go around trashing restaurants because their job isnt to criticize poor kitchenwork, but rather to recommend worthwhile places. this boils down to - why give a negative review when you can find a place to rave about.

                                                                                                                                                  the size of the market in the twin cities definitely questions this logic. I think that part of the reticence to come down hard on places stems from the small size of the pool. instead of finding another place to review which is deserving of more praise, critics (professional or otherwise) can default to being more permissive with regard to what they expect out of restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: chompchomp

                                                                                                                                                  I think there might be one more factor to consider, too, and that is the Twin Cities' current position in the foodie universe. I'm speaking less of prominence and more of development -- a stage of maturation, if you will.

                                                                                                                                                  New York, Chicago, Seattle and other spots are dining destinations. Diners travel there specifically to eat. Cooks move there specifically to make a name for themselves alongside the leaders. Restaurateurs and growers stake their success on a volume of people who will spend good money to taste something great.

                                                                                                                                                  The restaurant business there doesn't require encouragement to move it forward, because the competition can do that on its own. There are lots of diners and lot of expectations; if one eatery cannot do right by them then six others are ready & waiting. On the developmental continuum, let's say that those cities' dining scenes are fully matured, and the restaurants operate in an advanced (and demanding) environment. The standards can be unrelentingly high without hurting the dominance of the city's dining scene: criticism just serves to thin the herd.

                                                                                                                                                  On the other -- let's say embryonic -- end of the developmental scale are places whose dining scene is dismissed out of hand. Not criticized -- dismissed. These are places whose culinary attractions just do not come to mind. Nobody goes there to eat. If people end up there for other reasons, the search for a delicious meal is up to the fearlessly optimistic. If it's out there, only local pride and tradition are sustaining it.

                                                                                                                                                  Competition and criticism aren't really going to move development forward for places in the embryonic stage. In fact, the opposite is true: whatever they have to recommend them should be shouted from the rooftops. Call it cheerleading, but encouragement plays the most important part in germinating the idea that a local food identity holds value.

                                                                                                                                                  The Twin Cities have emerged from the embryonic stage, to be sure. People who come here can be reasonably sure of finding a good meal. The list of places to do so is broadening, as is the variety of cuisines, the local growers and restaurateurs who support them, not to mention the places to find artisanal or unusual ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                  But the reality is that the Twin Cities is not a fully mature dining scene. The newest, coolest food trend will unfold someplace else first. Chefs who come here can find some great mentors but they have to triple-check whether they’re still at the same address. When places go under, there aren’t necessarily six more chefs hoping to take over the space. Price points have a smaller range, and as today’s Star Tribune points out the number of dinners served shrinks in response to economic pressure. The changes in farm policy and food prices shave the razor-thin margins even more sharply.

                                                                                                                                                  When the dining scene is emerging but not yet securely established, it needs both criticism to keep it honest and encouragement to keep it viable. So we admit that a few jewel exceptions prove the generalization about our sad Chinese food, and we concede that the Midtown Global Market is a great gathering of local cuisines but not truly comparable to Reading Market or Pikes Place. But we also praise the adoption of local and artisanal foodways, the gift of Hmong and Somali and Salvadoran menus, and every single one of our James Beard nominees. A new small restaurant gets praise if it does something right, silence if it does not. We save the criticism for the high-profile spots that have raised our expectations, then failed to meet them.

                                                                                                                                                  I think it’s relevant that the dining scene is not going to mature beyond the growth limits that the metropolis itself observes. We are a hub for exactly one airline. The population is not increased by a constantly-refreshed volume of visitors, particularly leisure travelers. There’s no critical mass of the super-rich or super-fashionable here, drawing others who want to live like they do. This is a destination for immigrant populations, but we have been enriched by their presence for only a few decades and many groups are still new enough to be a bit like enclaves. From the stadium debates I learned that the entertainment dollars here are finite – more places to spend them doesn’t guarantee more of them. A good percentage of the population are raising a family and therefore eating at home most nights.

                                                                                                                                                  These are real limits for the Twin Cities. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are never going to be New York or Washington DC or Chicago – not on the urban scale and not in the dining realm. So yes, the long-held food traditions are bland and the international markets are not so dominant and if you want the local beloved walleye you have to catch it yourself. People still move here, though, and it’s not like they were deceived when they crossed the state line. We just need to attenuate the criticism and cheerleading to what can move us forward, without comparisons to someplace we’ll never be.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                    A couple of thoughts regarding variety and competition—

                                                                                                                                                    I’ve noticed that many of the posters who inhabit this board are people who have moved here from larger cities. Welcome to all of you. But you probably know you are in the minority—most people you work with, or live next to, are either natives or people who moved here from a smaller city. I used to live in a town with one restaurant. Well, it was a bar that served a lunch special at noon, and had a nice chicken dinner buffet Sunday nights. The next town over had an A&W. We didn’t have pizza delivery, so the idea of calling out for Thai would be foreign—especially since I didn’t know Thai was different from Chinese. So, not only is MSP smaller as a metro area, but I’d submit, that for most of the people who live here, these are the largest cities they’ve ever lived in. A big town full of small town people.

                                                                                                                                                    You don’t miss what you don’t have. So when I see questions like “Why isn’t there X in the Twin Cities?” I suppose sometimes the answer is simply “because there isn’t one yet”. Opening a restaurant is pretty risky, let alone opening one with a cuisine unfamiliar to most people. I can see why we might be behind in the development of the food scene.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Orange Julius

                                                                                                                                                      Wow I think there have been some really good points made here. (OJ thanks for "A big town full of small town people"). I definitely think that the food scene in MN is emerging, just as in many other parts of the US. So much of the America we know today was built in the post-war boom that emphasized convenience, food science from big corporations, and 'fortifying' processed food. The US is still a young country and it's taking time to develop a mature cuisine. In the end it will be amazing (in many ways it already is!) because we have a large and diverse nation that gives us so much material to work with.

                                                                                                                                                      One issue with developing haute cuisine in the Twin Cities is that Minnesotans are a very pragmatic people. Even the hoity toity types from Summit Ave or Lake Minnetonka aren't interested in paying New York prices for a meal, at least not more than once a year. It's no wonder places like Aquavit never survive (and they even pandered to the MN obsession with Scandinavia!). Furthermore, the majority of Minnesotans are averse to pretense...they're not interested in 'tablescapes' or seawater-flavored foam or whatever avant garde fad is sweeping NYC. That stuff might be interesting to the hipster urban types who worship NYC and Chicago, but those people are by far the minority here, and most Minnesotans wish they would simply move to the large cities they revere instead of complaining about how MN isn't NYC.

                                                                                                                                                      For me personally I'm happy with cheaper comfort food and less-pretentious places. I don't want haute cuisine to dominate here. I'd rather just go to a fish fry at the American Legion than drop $150 on a meal for 2 at Oceanaire. I cook a lot, so the push for more local food and farmer's markets is enough for me. Perhaps restaurants can add to that trend, but I think it comes from the grassroots and what shoppers demand at the market. Overall I'm happy with the food scene here and I'm happy that people are showing more interest in what they put into their bodies. I just know that Minnesotans are aware that no matter what they eat, it all winds up in the same place, so there's a limit to how much ado they'll make about their food.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Orange Julius

                                                                                                                                                        OJ, you have a good point there. As someone who did come from a bigger city (grew up in the Chicago burbs, went to grad school in central NJ [smack in the middle between Philly and NYC], and lived near Boston before coming here), I was disappointed when I first hit the restaurant scene in the cities and surrounding 'burbs. I've found some places that I like, that's for sure, but the number and variety were much smaller than I was accustomed to. I think that in addition to the "don't miss what you don't have" mentality, the demand for restaurants simply isn't strong, not the way it is in other parts of the country.

                                                                                                                                                        Case in point - I went to a "healthy living" cooking demo at Mayo (where I work), and the chef surveyed the audience: who never cooks, who cooks 1-2x a week, 3-5x a week, 6-7x a week. I'd say ~10% of the audience each raised their hand for the first 3 categories, and the other 70% raised their hand for the last category. NO WONDER there's such a lousy restaurant scene in Rochester.

                                                                                                                                                        In general, I don't think people eat in because there's no place to go - I think the restaurant culture is largely absent in much of Minnesota. But the fact that the Midwest chow board is lively with posts from 'hounds in MSP always encourages me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Orange Julius

                                                                                                                                                          I'm with you OJ. When I lived in Morris, MN we would drive 1 hour for a) crappy chinese or b) Applebee's quite often. The only things I miss from that town are french fries and tomato soup, and the soup place closed.

                                                                                                                                                          Coming to MPLS (previous to Morris living with my parents in Brooklyn Park) was glorious for me. I had never had Pho or Injera or Tortas. If my 23 year old self knew I would regularly spend $100 on a meal for two, she would kill me. My dad still would kill me if he knew how well we ate.

                                                                                                                                                          And for our size, we have an awesome food scene. Whose is better? NYC, SF, LA, Chicago, Portland, Miami, DC, Boston, Seattle and Philadelphia probably. And they are all bigger and, except Chicago, on coasts. And they are all tourist cities.

                                                                                                                                                          But are Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, and Poenix better? No. They are all bigger and not any better. San Diego, St. Louis, Baltimore and Tampa are all a bit smaller and they are not better either.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                          KT - I'm feeling the error of my words after reading your post. Certainly I can see the issue now, where out of towners come to the cities and bashed what the locals love. This was not my intention but I can see how it was likely perceived as such. I do however also see the point OJ is making. What if the things that are “missing” from the cities truly are missing and would be successful here if they would just open up shop? If we don’t look outside the vacuum of the cities, where will these concepts that are new to the cities come from? It wouldn’t hurt to clarify by new, I mean new the cities, perhaps quite old to nearby communities? For example, there doesn’t appear to be a big appetite for hot dog stands in this town. But what was it like before the first one opened? Where did the idea for the first one come from? I don’t know for certain but I think the one near Lake Nakomis was one of the first and they were from Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                            It's a good question, MH. Personally, I think "new" cuisines are often introduced into cities like ours with new immigrant populations. Not just one guy (or gal) with an idea for a restaurant, but, instead one guy from a particular ethnic group who has a whole community of people longing for they used to have in their homeland that they have a hard time getting here. That community would create the demand for the restaurant and keep it afloat until the rest of us took notice... And that takes, I think, a couple of generations to sort through. Right now, we're seeing a lot of exciting "new" food from the influx of Hmong and Somalis, which is why many folks on this board try to steer you to Southeast Asian restaurants or, even more cutting edge, East African restaurants. We have quite a thriving immigrant Latino community, too.

                                                                                                                                                            I think there would only be a giant, sustainable demand for, say (for example), Chicago style dogs if there were a sudden influx of large groups of Chicagoans into the Twin Cities. Maybe similar to what happened to Portland and Seattle when people started fleeing San Francisco in the late 80's/early 90's when the dot com boom drove housing prices way, way up. If something like that happened with Chicagoans coming here, then there would be a huge, possibly sustainable demand for Chicago style dogs.

                                                                                                                                                            This isn't to say that a guy with a on-off idea can't succeed here. It's just that it's hard unless you're a "celebrity" chef or have some other way for people to know you around here. Opening a restaurant is a tough venture.

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                              Uncle Franky's is one place to get Vienna beef hot dogs on a poppyseed bun with all the fixin's. Started by a guy from Chicago. There's another in South Minneapolis near the train line, around 38th or 42nd or something.

                                                                                                                                                              And maybe The Wienery is still open. There's also one on Selby, near Dale. And 3 of them do the Italian Beef stuff.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for that. I was just using Chicago style dogs as an example. However, even though we do have a couple of places around the Twin Cities to get them, I don't think they're taking us by storm yet! Maybe Musky Hunter can check those places out for us and give us the thumbs up or thumbs down if the thinks they "are the real thing". :). Funnily enough, I don't think he's asked for any help finding Chicago style dogs yet!

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm another ex-Chicagoan. (I think there are several of us on this board, actually.) There are a handful of places that have Chicago-style hot dogs. The Wienery was the first that I know of, followed by Joey D's (now known as Chris & Rob's) and later Uncle Franky's. There are a number of other places that sell Chicago dogs but are not as focused on them.

                                                                                                                                                                  Generally, they all do a fine job with a basic Chicago hot dog, but their menus lack things that would typically be found at a Chicago hot dog stand -- char-dogs, jumbo dogs, some other things. I haven't found that anyone here does a really good, accurate Italian beef sandwich, another staple of the hot dog stand. Still, you can get your basic craving satisfied here.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jordan

                                                                                                                                                                    Glad to hear it Jordan. I wouldn't want you (and your fellow former Chicagoans) to go without your dogs!

                                                                                                                                                                    I thought Chicago style dogs I had in Chicago were quite delicious. And I would be happy to have them again if presented the opportunity. But, for me, they are not something I crave badly enough to drive across town for.

                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                              I don't think the scene is closed, just developing at its own pace. It takes patience more than grim resignation, and a recognition that once the risk goes down some unexpected new frontiers can be opened. Let's use the framework of risk to think of the new food developments that HAVE made it onto the Twin Cities scene recently.

                                                                                                                                                              TDQ hit one nail squarely one the head: immigrant populations have a locally-concentrated customer group. The individuals that serve them first come from the same traditions and miss the same things, so they can fill a need that others wouldn't even recognize. They've whittled down the risk by starting with who & what they know, before moving on to a wider customer base.

                                                                                                                                                              Let's also recognize how many of our recent food-forward restaurants reduce their risk by leaning on another institution. Chambers, Cosmos, Mission, Porter & Frye have hotels to cover some infrastructure & funnel them customers. Cue and 20.21 rely on a theatre and a museum to bring people through their doors. The menus can be a little farther out there because there's something besides food to draw new customers.

                                                                                                                                                              A lot of the other growth is incremental, reducing risk by letting new adventurous investments follow older, successful ones. The Parasole and D'Amico groups have a pretty deep bench to research, fund and operate their enterprises. Many new spots are siblings to other ongoing establishments, so the folks at the helm have learned the business and the market already (Alma/Brasa, El Meson/Cafe Ena, Barbette/Red Stag ...).

                                                                                                                                                              Others have to be more deliberate about how big they want to gamble. When La Belle Vie and the Dakota expanded, they moved right downtown to situate themselves in their customers' paths. Several people & places that betted large & lost have re-appeared in humbler incarnations (Levain, Bakery on Grand, Stuart Woodman, Doug Flicker ...).

                                                                                                                                                              The last thing that I can think of is that some new directions that were a riskier course in past years are now supported by outside forces, so the overall acceptance level has changed. You can't blink your eyes at any media outlet today without catching reference to the state of our food supply. The surge in appreciation for local, organic, sustainable food is impelled by broader concerns about the environment, oil consumption, personal health, farm economics, animal cruelty, landfills, living wages, and so on. Alice Waters was a single light on the ocean once, but enough flares have been sent up that the aircraft carrier is shifting course at last.

                                                                                                                                                              So yeah -- customers, partnerships, experience, scale, larger shifts. People who attend to all the things that precede a menu can make a go of a Chicago hot dog outlet, an oyster bar in a public park, an overhaul of the school lunch program, handmade marshmallows, an ice bar ... whatever might be next?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                                i think that 10 & 15 years ago the best and brightest chefs in msp were packing off to nyc and cali, where the restaurants were (kind of like doctors in the third world getting their degrees and going to europe/u.s. for fame & fortune, leaving behind their poorer neighbors who need them most). some of these chefs came back because they realized there is a great deal of quality foodstuff coming out of the northern heartland. they wanted to come back and cook the local food here. others came up in msp and never left, and they are doing some of the coolest cooking in the country right now-- it's just that most people don't know anything about it-- it's still below the radar, although that may be changing with msp's growing dominance of the rest of our region in national awards & press. there is a very strong local foods thing going on in msp right now because it's food that has been overlooked for so long, that's gotten so good relatively quickly. i'm talking about some of the mn/wi artisan cheeses, native american artisanal products such as hand-harvested real wild rice, single source honeys, maple syrup, wild foods, freshwater fish, local grass fed meats and game. it's actually a really exciting and important time to be cooking in msp right now because the foodways grow so substantially every year, and there's constantly new great stuff coming in that suddenly has a market of diners who are hungry for it. the local farmers have figured out that diversification is the key to saving their family farms and are figuring out how to grow all kinds of items that formerly were not grown or produced around here. nowadays the best and brightest msp chefs aren't packing off to nyc anymore, they are staying and opening up little places of their own, and other chefs are now coming in to learn from them. the cities' food identity has opened its eyes in the past 5 years or so, and the restaurants and chefs that are here *now* are going to be the names to be remembered one day.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                  We are in violent agreement!

                                                                                                                                                        3. I think you've got three good ones in your post. If you turned them into statements (how un-minnesotan that'd be), I'd agree with them.

                                                                                                                                                          Walleye caught and fried up within 10 minutes of death is a surprisingly good food. If you let it sit around or freeze it, it's generally nothing special.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                            Jim, to whom are you responding? This thread is so long we could use some kind of a reference.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                              Jim, bless his heart, was responding to Paz...the OP... Paz seldom posts anymore, though I'm always happy to hear from him when he does.

                                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure how this thread from December 2006 got resurrected, but, personally, I will be happy when it settles to restful slumber again and instead of harping on what we can't agree on, we can return our focus to what we all (hopefully) agree on: that discovering and reporting on great food finds is why we're all here what we do best. Since this forum tends to be more focused on what's good, the stuff of controversy tends to be more negative. And who needs more negativity in life, really.

                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                          2. After moving here three years ago, I am continually amazed by the self-congratulatory tone of the local food scene which in reality is filled with delusional boosters who know the foodie lingo, but misapply it to simply mediocre places like Brasa, Saffron, JP’s and Bewitched. Sure, there are some good eats, but that does that legitimize the insipid argument that so many Minnesota restaurants are special. This is probably linked to the general Minnesota insecurity that typifies all aspects of the local media and culture. After traveling around the country on business for years and living in SF and NYC for extended periods, it is clear to me that in general, the Twin Cities’ high end restaurants are overpriced for the quality and mediocre on the national level-with the notable exceptions of La Belle Vie, Alma, and 112. Simply average places almost always get rave reviews from food critics like Dara and Ann Bauer as well as blog commentators. While there are really some good ethnic places like Jasmine Deli and Little Szechuan, too many other weak places are continually lauded. The Twin Cities food scene deserves a B- at best when compared with other major metropolitan areas and I probably would give it a lower grade if I hadn’t been infected with “Minnesota Nice.”.

                                                                                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: danfromsf

                                                                                                                                                              Maybe I'm misreading you, but do you think it's fair to compare the TCs to SF and NYC? All "major metropolitan areas" are not reasonably comparable-- to which specific metro areas of similar size are you comparing the TCs? Just curious, not trying to be "self-congratulatory" or "delusional"...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                                                                                This has been proposed as a defense by several in this thread, but why? Most ingredients available in SFO or NYC are available here. So why can't MSP compete with other major cities?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                                  You should be accutely aware of this MH, as you live in the suburbs. There is no population density to support what you are ltalking about, and people that have to drive to get it complain about gas prices. People that live in the suburbs and complain about a) the fact nothing they want is near them and b) the cost to drive to the stuff they want...well, it's confusing until they buy a car that runs on moonbeams and rainbows.

                                                                                                                                                                  MSP: A sprawling, flat, metro bounded by more sprawling flat nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                  SFO: Peninsula bounded by water than creates a dense population. Additionally, has 366,615 more people than Minneapolis.

                                                                                                                                                                  NYC: An island(s) bounded by water creating population density. Additionally, has 7.7 million more people than Minneapolis.

                                                                                                                                                                  If there is a market in NYC the sustains 2 great indiginous Austro-Hungarian Goulash Huts, one might surmise that Minneapolis would have the market to sustain none, even though you can get beets and paprika here.

                                                                                                                                                                  To further support my argument, Phoenix has 1.1 million more people than we do, is equally as sprawling, but has a food "scene" that reminds me of the town I went to college in. A town of 50,000 people. Phoenix makes Minneapolis look like Paris on a good day. Though the taquerias there are quite good (but no one eats at them).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                                                                                    A lot of good out of town meals leads to immunization against that dan.

                                                                                                                                                                    Not only are there topographical differences, but NY and SF diners are probably less likely to be thinking "hey, we have to get Jimmy to ice time at 5 am tomorrow".

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                                                                                                                                    Minneapolis and St. Paul aren't an "other" major city, first of all. Combined, I think they constitute a mid-tier city. I think "major" cities have a larger population base to support more restaurants and, therefore, a wider-variety of restaurants. In addition, SF and NYC are major tourist destinations, which, again, props up restaurant revenues. For instance, at any given time, "tourism" makes up about 20-25% of San Francisco's economy--not all of that is dining, but a lot of it is-- and SF is almost always listed among the top five tourist destinations in the world. That's a lot of outside revenue available to support restaurants that MSP and other mid-tier cities just don't have.

                                                                                                                                                                    Also, the higher and more steady the volume you're doing, the more you can command better prices from out-of-area vendors; if you don't have the critical mass of the bigger cities, I think it's harder to get volume breaks on supplies.

                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree with TDQ on this one.

                                                                                                                                                                      As popular as the MoA may be, the Twin Cities isn't a "tourist" metro. Lots of people eat at "high-end" restaurants when they're on a trip and want to splurge, or have the fortune of eating on a per diem account. New York City is not only a major tourist destination, it's perhaps the most traveled to business destination in the world. San Francisco also has a huge tourist population, and perhaps a larger high-income well-educated urban population that tends to patronize high-end restaurants (and even perhaps a more diverse selection of ethnic joints).

                                                                                                                                                                      That said, I personally don't really care about high-end restaurants, unless you're paying me to eat there. I'm far more interested in the odd ethnic dives and little neighborhood cafes of the world. Minneapolis can't compete against New York City in this category, but compared to many cities of the same size, and especially with the same foreign-born population percentage, it probably doesn't do bad.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        okay-- the folks who've moved to mps from larger metropolises: picture your favorite *____*. hot dog stand, knish slinging station, dim sum destination. got it firmly in mind?

                                                                                                                                                                        these establishments do not spring fully formed from the droplets of zeus' perspiration, they emerge from a sea of their fellow hot dog stands, knish and dim sum places. if you have 50 hot dog stands, there will emerge one, or perhaps several, establishments widely acknowledged as "the best in town." this might be dave the third-generation hot dog dude's place, as he carries on the heroic pork-peddling tradition of his forebears. . . you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                        the problem with transplanting oneself to other environs, is that when you look back fondly on the cuisine of your home city, and compare it with where you are now, it's not the *average example* of the city's hot dog stands you remember, is it? it's dave's, the best. so you compare, for example, msp's 3 total hot dog stands with the apex, #1 of 50 hot dog stands back home. that's just human nature. is it a fair comparison though?

                                                                                                                                                                        "why oh why don't the msper's have a quality hot dog stand?" you wail. "back home everybody would eat a dog at least twice a week. why hasn't anybody tapped into the potential for dog eating in this town?" well, i would counter, the folks in your town eat dogs twice a week because of the history of your city-- the local nature of the chicago slaughterhouses created the proliferation of hot dog stands in your town, but up here we didn't have that. mspers, i would point out, might eat one of the following 2 times weekly instead of a dog: jucy lucy, ban mi, tacos, bun salad, falafel, pho, lentil wat, sushi. dogs are okay if you're at the ballpark or on vacation, but we'd probably rather have a real brat with the folks from sheboygan next door, with some of that spicy horseradish mustard. sure, if there were more authentic chicago hot dog access in msp we might eat some more dogs-- probably not twice a week, that would be gross. but would we trade our pho houses, jucy lucy grills, or falafel stands for dogs? hell no we wouldn't-- many of us would sooner sell a family member. (yes i am fully aware that the avg jucy lucy is probably far more caloric and cholesterol-laden than the avg esteemed chicago dog. laugh *with* me at how people are funny about their hometown faves, whatever they may be)

                                                                                                                                                                        no matter how cool folks from cincinnati think their chili is, you don't see much call for it outside cincinnati. now to folks from cincinnati, the chili-on-spaghetti thang is comfort food. everyone else in the world just doesn't get it-- they didn't grow up with it so "they don't know." when i'm in cincinnati i'll try it. again. and maybe this time the earth will move under my feet and i'll be a convert. maybe not. when i go to chicago i'll eat a dog-- i'm on vacation, it's an experience. i'll enjoy it, but it's *not* earth shattering, sorry. i wouldn't make fun of it. some things i would never in a zillion years think to do (like putting mayo on corn on the cob) can be cool regionalisms. i love regionalism.

                                                                                                                                                                        i do have one main point: folks from larger cities say they want to see msp "compete" with much larger cities. what they actually mean is that they'd like to see us *emulate* much larger cities. they want msp to have the same dim sum restaurant (their fave) that rose to the top of the mediocre dim sum places in sf, only it should spontaneously exist here, cuter, cleaner, friendlier, and certainly cheaper than on the west coast. and we should have the hot dog stand from chicago and the bagel shop from nyc, but we can just skip all those mediocre restaurants that normally precede them. the good places should just exist here to cater to the transplants, and the native populace should appreciate these foods, despite not having any comparison. because once msp has a truly great bagel shop, hot dog stand, dim sum palace, it will be an okay city, because people from these bigger towns, like americans in paris who head for mcdonalds, will have *something to eat*. something recognizable, that doesn't take any mental or tastebud adjustment. unlike bubble tea, in short.

                                                                                                                                                                        of course we who live here must point out that msp is *not* as good as sf, chicago, nyc. that will never happen, msp is too small. but msp can attempt to become the "mini me" of these cities, if it emulates the cuisines of these larger towns, and restricts the growth of food establishments to those that produce versions of big-city food. if msp suppresses the food of its own history, geography, and the ethnic groups who live here, we could become america's mini me, all things to all americans! except of course, that a little ways back some people in msp stopped emulating, or copying, what's been done in other places. they had the audacity to do things in their own way, using local resources and local sensibilities. wait-- why aren't you trying to be mini-nyc anymore? whatever, that "prince" guy never went anywhere either.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                          [clap clap clap clap clap!] Standing in front of my keyboard, stomping and cheering.

                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you, soupkitten, that was terrific.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                                                                                            Applause from a transplant as well. Just finished my leftovers from El Meson and thought

                                                                                                                                                                            1. how easy it was to get a table,
                                                                                                                                                                            2. how short a drive it was from my house
                                                                                                                                                                            3. how I parked right in front and
                                                                                                                                                                            4. how inexpensive the whole thing turned out.

                                                                                                                                                                            Living the Minneapolis experience...

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                            Wow, that was brilliant. Just brilliant. I have no more words.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                              I love bubble tea.

                                                                                                                                                                              And a hearty 'yup' from me, too.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Uisge

                                                                                                                                                                                tx very much for the home town support all you folks.

                                                                                                                                                                                for anybody reading along who dislikes my post, or my rough edges, i'm not trying to "shut anybody down" with the above post. this is just another view and perspective-- i am trying to offer food for thought. if you can, read it with humor. bonus if you try one "keep msp weird" food this week and report back.

                                                                                                                                                                                i do welcome all transplants to msp and their take on the local foods, but this "your gyoza suck compared to the gyoza back home" stuff has got to stop imo. nobody finds out about good food that way. compare the pizza crust at your local joint to your hometown fave-- if you *must*, but please try to judge our local stuff on its own merits too. imo prague should not try to be paris in terms of food type, access and availability. prague should do its own thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                msp's food scene exists in relationship with those of america's largest cities, and the world's. it also exists in relationship to its native and transplanted populations, food heritage, the native foods that are coming in from the woods and the farms and the lakes around here, i could go on. don't get me wrong, mspers are not bumpkins. by and large, we take many, many cues, culinary and otherwise, from chicago, nyc, sf. but we're not trying to be a chicago suburb, or a lake-front cabin for nyc and cali vacationers. we're independent. the most interesting food things happening here in msp don't have a lot to do with what's hot elsewhere. if you diss before you get it, you might miss something. thanks for the nice discussion we're having here and putting up with my frank posts on the subject.
                                                                                                                                                                                --sk

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                              Ahem.

                                                                                                                                                                              I was right on TDQ's wavelength when she sweetly opined on putting this thread back to rest. I have now, officially changed my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                              I still lament Chow's antiquated listing system that allows posts on 2 year old subjects to be resurrected wily-nily, but between KTfoley's, TDQ's and soupkitten's posts on this thread, I have not read such insightful, witty, erudite and frankly thought-provoking criticism of the Twin Cities food scene since...well, never (including Dara, Rick, Kathie, and the rest of the pack).

                                                                                                                                                                              I am tempted to take this series of posts and send them wholesale to Gastronomica, or some other food/literature/media outlet. Truly, it represents the finest food writing I've had the pleasure to experience in ages.

                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you, all.

                                                                                                                                                                              Dragon

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Dragon

                                                                                                                                                                                Pardon the interruption, folks, but we think this is a nice place to wrap this thread up as it seems to have reached a natural end. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful contributions. Please resume your chowish discussions of where the best chow in the Midwest is outside this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you.