MSP - weekend trip
Hello Minneapolis hounds!
I am traveling to Minneapolis for the first time for a short visit next weekend, coming from Madison. I lived in Chicago for many years, although I have only truly embraced my chowish side since moving to WI (ironic, no?) We're staying at the Hilton downtown. My SO is not quite as foodie as I (he enjoys great food, but not to the point of waiting in hour-long lines or eating at odd times). I'll travel for food (when we visit Chicago, a mandatory bruch-time stop is at Happy Chef for dim sum...a twenty-minute train ride from downtown), but since I don't know Minneapolis at all, it'll be fairly cold, and it's a short visit, closer to the hotel is probably best. We're both trying to watch our diet, and although this'll be a special weekend, I'm not really looking to do sausages, Jucy Lucys, and biscuits and gravy the whole time we're there. Ethnic and spicy eats are fun; (a favorite restaurant in Madison is the great Laotian place, Lao Laan-Xang); but I certainly appreciate well-prepared food of any sort. Here's what I've managed to comb off the (extensive and well-researched, I might add) MSP boards so far: any thoughts?
Hell's Kitchen, with a reservation.
Midtown Global Market for tamales one morning.
Cue at the Guthrie
Solera (Friday night...we have a reservation.)
Vincent (We have a reservation for Saturday night, but would we be better served by Alma? or some other place? 112 Eatery and La Belle Vie are both booked, sadly. I really wanted to eat at 112.)
Saturday we're probably just going to bum around a bit. I was thinking about the Midtown Global Market, going to Nye's Polannaise for a drink, doing Quang or Jasmine Deli for lunch, perhaps driving around to look at the sights. Sunday we'll probably head over to the Walker (hitting Hell's Kitchen for brunch?) before driving back home. (I assume the Walker will be packed on Saturday, as that's the free day).
Thanks for your help!
Lots of good research! Well done.
I wasn't impressed with the tamales at Midtown Global Market the two times I tried them (and I've tried all of the varieties of fillings they offer)--I think the original location of Las Lomas in Mercado Central (which is in Minneapolis on Lake Street) is better, but I'm not sure even then I recommend you go out of your way for them. http://www.lalomatamales.com/
But, Midtown Global Market is a definite destination. If you want Mexican there, I heartily recommend instead of the tamales the whole fried tilapia from La Sirena Gorda or the al pastor huaraches from Taqueria Los Ocampo. Both are outstanding.
If you're looking for a BREAKFAST replacement for the tamales, then I think Al's Breakfast is glaringly missing from your list. It's a Twin Cities institution and won a James Beard American classics award. It's a 14-seat counter and you should expect to wait. If that's not your style (it sounds more casual than your other choices), maybe Colossal Cafe --a new board favorite--or even Birchwood. Lots of posts on the board about these two spots.
Lenny Russo, the executive chef at Cue left on Monday. The kitchen might be in disarray. Maybe try Lucia's instead. Also, just a side-note, there's also a cafe in the Guthrie called Level 5th. I assume it's the same kitchen of course, but it's just an alternative if you want something more casual. If you're just trying to eat at a Lenny Russo restaurant, his restaurant "Heartland" is in St. Paul, (which may not meet your location requirements.) http://www.heartlandrestaurant.com/
But, I think you'd like Lucia's. (She was nominated for a James Beard award last year).
Also, if you're in the vicinity of Spoonriver/Cue, and you're looking for fun chowish things to do, I really recommend the Mill City Museum--it's a chowish stop since it's in the ruins of an old flour mill and traces Minneapolis' past as flour-milling capital of the world. It's next door to the Guthrie. Even if all you do is the flour-tower tour, which is a multi-media presentation on the history of the mill that ends with a spectacular view of Minneapolis, it's pretty cool. I like the new movie "Minneapolis in 19 minutes flat," though it's not especially chowish. The Mill City Museum has won a fair amount of acclaim for design.
The Walker is fabulous, but only the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture http://garden.walkerart.org/artwork.wac is remotely chowish. Actually, that's not true--the Walker does have a Wolfgang Puck restaurant 20.21 (as well as a cafe-Gallery 8-you have to get there early though.) I like the Walker on the free days--it has a nice community vibe to it, even if it's a little more crowded.
Too bad about 112 Eatery. I love that place. You might try to go at an off-time and see if you can score a spot at the bar, if you're really motivated and have time. Maybe Sunday dinner right before you leave town?
re: The Dairy Queen
It's a good thing the chef at Cue left, they got a SCATHING review from the Star-Tribune, and the reviewer mentioned they'd been there three times! Food undercooked after being sent back for being undercooked, horrible taste combinations...good news indeed the chef is gone! It's a beautiful space.
They serve food at the bar at both 112 and La Belle Vie.
Some other recommendations in the area:
Peninsula (Malaysian) on 26th and Nicollet
Yummy (Dim Sum and seafood) on 25th and Nicollet
Actually, the stretch on Nicollet between 24th and the 29th St Greenway is full of options for lunch from hip diner fare at the Bad Waitress to Jasmine Deli and Quang which you mentioned and the ones I just wrote above. It's right near the Minneapolis Institute of Arts too.
Chai on the West Bank (Cedar Avenue) has excellent Thai food.
Near your hotel, the Bar at Vincent (on Nicollet Mall) is good, try the burgers. Safari is an East African restaurant on Nicollet (at 15th) in the Loring Park area.
Also, I'd recommend a cocktail at the Chambers Hotel (9th and Hennepin).
112 Eatery only dedicates a percentage of the restaurant to reservations. If you call early (around 5:30) you can get yourselves on a list and they do a pretty good job of estimating the time.
Note that eating at the bar is also an option but it is crowded and can be difficult for 2 people.
Hell's Kitchen would be my top choice for breakfast. You will need to make a reservation if you want to avoid waiting.
Vincent is excellent -- I'd rate it well above Alma. The tasting menu is always worthwhile.
I've noticed some confusion on these boards between Bombay 2 Deli on Central Ave. and Bombay Bistro on Marquette (which is downtown). Bombay 2 Deli is great, all-vegetarian, and gets raves here, but it's a bit further from downtown (maybe 5-10 minutes) and lacking ambience as it's more of a takeaway--although you certainly can eat there as well. Further down Central is The Vegetarian, which I assume would have a (non-mandatory) lunch buffet. Both restaurants are more South Indian and I know The Vegetarian has dosas, utthapam, etc. I think Bombay Bistro is more expensive, Americanized, and--based on second-hand evidence--far inferior to the other two.
Sorry if I seem to be rambling about this but I'm a huge fan of Indian food and most of it here is so bad.