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Jun 12, 2007 01:34 PM

MSP - Food stores other than WF

Hi from an NYC Chowhound! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get to, once again, spend a week this summer at a lake-side house in Northern Wisconsin. This involves flying into MSP and renting a car, shopping for a week's worth of food (and maybe wine) before driving to Wisconsin. (The pickings are pretty slim where we're going - about 45 minutes NE of Heyward - both in terms of restaurants, with one exception, and ingredients). In the past couple of years - thanks to help from MSP 'hounds, we've stopped at Whole Foods in St. Paul to stock up for my week of marathon cooking, and also went to a great wine store en route from the airport to WF. Last year we were travelling w/ our dog, so opted to have Sam's in Chicago ship two cases of wine (no, there are more than the two of us at our destination point - various family members!).

However, my question is, are there convenient and better alternatives to Whole Foods? I am basically in need of buying essentials - olive oil, sea salt, good vinegars, Italian dried pasta, San Marzano canned tomotoes, etc., wonderful cheeses, some meats, maybe a little bit of seafood (we get it on ice and buy some special bags to keep the food cold for the 3 hour drive) and vegetables/herbs to last us through at least a couple of days. Whole Foods is quite good, but my husband keeps complaining about how they completely butcher the prosciutto (we bought 2lbs last year and it was completely hacked up). Our hitch is that we'll have been travelling since the early morning from NYC, with dog who hates to travel, and then face this 3 hour drive, so we don't want to have to go from store to store to provision ourselves, but are wondering if there are WF alternatives that might work for us. The WF store seems pretty convenient in terms of access from the airport and on our way to Wisconsin.

Thanks so much!


Edit - I found one of my old threads - the wine store we went to was Solo Vino, which I remember being wonderful -
Would does the Mississippi Market carry all of the things that we need to pick up?

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  1. Mississippi Market has the oil, salt, vinegars, pasta, cheeses, meats, vegetables, herbs. Maybe the seafood, depending on what you want. Not sure about the San Marzano tomatoes; I'll check when I visit this week and get back to you, if you don't hear from others sooner. I'll do a seafood check too.

    If the seafood at Miss doesn't satisfy it would be very easy and not out of your way to stop at Coastal Seafoods on Snelling on your way over to Solo Vino and the Market.

    Proscuitto is the only real problem. I always get mine from one of the local Italian markets, and don't recall seeing anything other than the prepackaged stuff at the Market. I'll doublecheck on that too, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: clepro

      Thanks - that is so kind of you!

    2. I'd go to Mississippi Market over Whole Foods, with the caveat that they might not have one or two things on your list - for example, not as much selection for meat and seafood. They have more organic food and a bit less imported stuff. But they're conveniently close to Solo Vino (what a nice little wine shop!) and easy to get to from the airport (but use a map to get from the freeway exit to the store - there are a bunch of twists and turns).

      Coastal Seafood is a good tip! And, worst case, Whole Foods is just a few blocks away from Coastal in case you must make another stop.

      Alas, proscuitto is a "specialty deli" item in this town. You could swing by Buon Giorno on your way up Hwy 35E (Lilydale/Hwy 13 exit), but that's yet another stop.


      P.S. If you had more time, I'd recommend the Wedge over Mississippi Market - it's a fun place to shop. But it's harder to get to, difficult to park, and it's not particularly close to any good wine stores. And I don't think they hand-slice their proscuitto, either. But someday, when you have tons of time, it's worth a visit.

      5 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        Cossetta's in Downtown St. Paul is a great source for San Marzano tomatoes:

        211 Seventh St W
        St Paul, MN

        Phone: (651) 222-3476

        They have lots of other Italian provisions, and they are notably cheaper than Buon Giorno on many items.

        You can't get seafood there, though. There is a location of Mississippi Market not too far from t here.

        622 Selby Avenue
        Saint Paul, MN 55104
        Hours: 8:30 am to 9:30 pm

        They'd be my one-two stop for what you're aiming for.

        1. re: pgokey

          I was thinking of Cossetta's too--it's just on the edge of downtown St. Paul.

          I really enjoyed my stop at Cossetta's this weekend. The cheeses (we tried the ricotta, provolone, and mozzarella), breads (we tried a French baguette and a loaf of "peasant bread") and deli items (we tried the capicola) were all lovely. They have a zillion varieties dried pastas and olive oils and canned tomato products. I didn't notice the vinegars, but I'll bet they have them too (I'd be willing to call over and ask what they carry if it becomes "a finalist".)

          But they probably won't have much in the way of other kinds of meats or seafood.

          You could swing by Mississippi Market (Selby/Dale location) to supplement what you'd get at Cossetta's, and that wouldn't be too far from Solo Vino, which is also on Selby.

          If you wanted to make a millions stops in the same general area (I'm guessing you don't):

          There's Great Harvest (fresh baked bread) on Selby.

          Widmer's, old fashioned butcher

          And, yes, Coastal Seafoods on Snelling, just a few blocks South of Selby would be the best stop for seafood.

          All these places would be within about 10 blocks of each other, except for Cossetta's which, again, is at the edge of downtown St. Paul.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            If you only have time/energy for one stop - hit Kowalskis market on grand (about 1 mile east of WF) or Lunds (ford parkway) in St Paul. Both have boar's head products & generally solid provisions. & both are on the way from the airport to 94....

            But you can't go wrong with the above recommendations!

            & I highly recommend coastal seafoods - they have yummy crab cakes which you can also get frozen instead of thawed so they'll keep for mid week/end of week dining. (you might want to call ahead to save time - sometimes it can be crowded)

            2 blocks north of Coastal (and midway btw WF & kowlaskis) on the corner of grand and snelling is breadsmith which is excellent as well. Bakery w/ some great quick breads & foccicas.

            Hae a great trip!

            1. re: St Paul Susie

              The good thing about Lunds is Haskell's (wine shop) is more or less right across the street. And Ford Parkway is super-duper easy to get to if you're coming from the airport without having to drive very far into St. Paul.


            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              Cossetta's vinegar selection is fantastic. Most notably, if you're ever looking for really good balsamic, it is THE place to go. You'll pay a nice price, but that's how it goes with good balsamics.

        2. MMRuth,

          Do you take I-494/I-94 east into Wisconsin and then Highway 63 up to Hayward? (I ask because knowing this would let me know your proximity to various stores and there are, after all, other ways to go).

          Regardless, many in MSP don't realize how good we have things with our grocery stores. You can get everything on your list, including some "exotic" items (vast array of oils, salts, seasonings, etc.) even at local chains here. One of our "high-end" grocery stores is a mini-chain called Kowalski's.

          If I were guiding visiting friends and family, I would recommend exiting the airport, taking 5 east to Highway 55 south (Mendota Heights). Follow that across the river and then veer onto 110. After about two miles (Dodd Rd) you will be at The Village at Mendota Heights. In there is a nice cheese shop, E's Cheese, a wine shop (The Wine Shop by Kowalski's) and a little specialty market (Sage Market & Wine Bar...also run by Kowalski's).

          There are links to all three via the following web site:

          Now...none of these will be the premier wine/cheese/grocery outlet in the Twin Cities. But, each has a good selection, they're all 4 miles from the airport (on your way even) and within 25 yards of each other.

          After you load up, from there, you simply continue on 110 another couple of miles and that hits I-494. Take 494 east to 94 as you normally would coming from the airport and after a couple miles on 94, you will see Radio Drive in Woodbury. Two miles south of 94 on Radio Drive is a very large Kowalski's store.

          You'll find everything you need there and you won't have to sacrifice much, if anything, in quality from the local co-ops. The seafood and deli selections will be more vast.

          That's my best advice for everything you need in two stops and less than two miles off the route you would normally take anyway. Otherwise, if you like Italian meat, cheese and especially Italian wine, substitute a stop at Buon Giorno Market (at Highway 13 and I-35E in Lilydale) for the aforementioned Mendota Heights Stuff. From Buon Giorno, you would still link up, via 35E south, to 110 east, etc. Just a wee bit farther out of your way.

          Good luck!

          6 Replies
          1. re: MSPD

            Wow! Who knew Kowalski's is such an empire!

            They sell wine at Buon Giorno? I didn't realize/remember it in the store itself or in an adjoining facility?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              There is a wine shoppe inbetween BG and I nonni - Its mainly (if not all) Italian wines & its excellent.

              TDQ - in my rare & brief travels to the burbs I hit the Kowalskis in Woodbury - it was amazing!

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                It's in a separate section to the left. When you walk in, just look left -- it's a huge, cool-looking room. (If I ever had an event to plan for +/- 40 people, I would rent that space...they do rent it out and I Nonni would cater). What a great event space. Check out the web site and click on Wine Shop. There's a wine list and photo that doesn't quite capture the space.

                Yeah...I kind of felt like a shill for Kowalski's with that post, but it's such a no brainer when you look at a map. Everything is right there along the route one would take and great groceries to boot.

                1. re: MSPD

                  actually that is their special event room - its awesome for a dinner! I've only been to a sit down there and it certainly was less than 40 peeps.

                  1. re: MSPD

                    I like Kowalski's better than Lunds/Byerly's. I have a great time there finding specialty items/hard to find items. The produce is good. Lots of local product lines. Good selection of artisanal foods. I also really like that the stores are small. Well, I hear Woodbury is big, but it's on the other side of the world from me. The Kowalski's in my neck of the woods are neighborhood stores, I you can get in and out fast. The checkout lines are also really speedy. The meat counter is great.

                    Alas, it's expensive there. At times, very expensive. I usually only buy specialty items or "treats", and maybe the occasional odd "regular" item because I'm there already.

                2. re: MSPD

                  Assuming the geography all works for MMRuth, I'm retracting my recommendation in favor of MSPD's.


                3. I'm going to go off the board a little and suggest the Midtown Global Market. ( You should be able to get most of your provisions there -- although I'm not certain about seafood. You'll also be able to support the local owners of the stores within.

                  From the airport, take 5 to 55 to 62 to 35W. Get off at the Lake Street exit and turn right on Lake. It's about 10 blocks from the exit.

                  Wine is available at Chicago Lake Liquors across the street (named after the intersection at which it's located). It's not the best selection ever -- certainly not on par with Solo Vino -- but has the basics. Their web site is:

                  (Edit: I just looked at their website -- it's a better selection than I remember. If you're looking for something special, I'd confirm with them ahead of time.


                  You might even be able to order your wine ahead of time and then just run in to pay for it and pick it up.

                  Have fun.

                  Also, I don't know if you're going to be anywhere near Iron River, WI, but there's a natural food coop there that has a decent (for the area) assortment of bulk and natural food. I wouldn't rely on it exclusively but if you are in a pinch, it may be your best bet.

                  Bob S.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: bob s

                    MGM is great for what it is, yet it may not be quite a match to what MMRuth seeks.

                    Looking at her original shopping list -- olive oil, sea salt, good vinegars, Italian dried pasta, San Marzano canned tomotoes, etc., wonderful cheeses, some meats, maybe a little bit of seafood and vegetables/herbs -- I would respectfully disagree that MGM offers the majority of what she seeks, particularly if her husband is attentive to how the prosciutto is sliced.

                    Given her travel burden, here is my recommendation:
                    From the airport, take 5 East toward St. Paul, and then 55 West toward Minneapolis (not over the Mendota Heights bridge). Follow Route 55 as it bears off to the right to become Hiawatha Avenue. At the traffic light for 54th Street, turn right into Minnehaha Park. At your first available parking spot, stop and walk the dog. (The dog park's right there.)

                    When the dog has settled down a bit, take either Hiawatha or the park's curvy stretch of Minnehaha Ave up to 46th Street. Turn right and follow it east across the river until it becomes Ford Parkway. Go straight on Ford Parkway up the hill to Fairview Ave.

                    Turn left on Fairview Ave and follow it through the campus for the College of St. Catherine. to St. Clair Ave. Turn right, and half a block up on the left is a great little shop called The Wine Thief. They have a good & unusual selection.

                    That done, continue straight east on St. Clair Ave to Snelling Ave. Turn left on Snelling and continue until you see the campus/construction site that is Macalester College on your left. Coastal Seafoods is on your right, between Lincoln and Grand Ave. Park where you can, and pick up seafood plus accompaniaments.

                    (If you'd like bread, walk across Grand Ave to Great Harvest. Duck into Dunn Bros for coffee beans. What time did you need to be in Hayward?)

                    Back in the car, turn right on Grand Ave and go east 5 blocks to Kowalski's for groceries.

                    Once that's done, go 2-3 blocks further east on Grand Ave to Lexington Parkway. Turn left on Lexington and follow it to I-94, then continue as you would to Wisconsin..

                    Have a great trip!

                    1. re: KTFoley

                      I stand corrected. I did look at her list -- but my memory failed me. I had recalled that there was a decent Italian deli at MGM and my cursory review of the MGM website led me to think it was Jakeeno's. However, upon closer look at Jakeeno's site, I'm pretty certain that was not the place. So perhaps that's not the best place for MMRuth. (I could swear there was a good Italian place though..... Age must be catching up with me!)

                      1. re: bob s

                        It is Jakeeno's. They are the only Italian place at MGM. Not super impressive
                        though imho.

                        1. re: faith

                          I agree about Jakeeno's. My recollection was that there was a decent Italian deli in MGMkt AND Jakeeno's. Oh well....

                      2. re: KTFoley

                        I need to correct my own post. The bakery on the corner of Snelling & Grand is Breadsmith, not Great Harvest.

                        1. re: KTFoley

                          Yup--Great Harvest is on Selby a few blocks up East of Dale. Good chocolate oatmeal cookies. :)


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