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Seafood in Minneapolis

My parents are coming into town this weekend and I want to take them out for seafood. I know that Sea Salt is great, but I am looking for someplace a little more formal. I was thinking about Oceanaire, but can anyone give me a hint on entree prices? I know that it's spendy, but there are no prices on the web.

Any other suggestions? I really appreciate it.

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  1. You just mentioned the low and high end of the good seafood. McCormick & Schmick's on Nicollet Mall is formal enough but a tad less than the Oceanaire in cost. I have had satisfying meals at M & S at both lunch and dinner time. In the burbs I like Blue Point in Wayzata.

    1. Oceanaire entrees are $20+ per entree, generally not exceeding $35 (excluding lobster), but in my opinion are worth the price if you are in the mood for well-prepared, consistant seafood (especially oysters). Good call on Sea Salt as you might end up waiting 30-45 minutes for your food (possibly outside)

      Additionally McCormick's has some good options, but I have also had a few so-so preperations there. Stella's in Uptown is cheaper, but again, inconsistant, loud and generally not the type of place you'd want to bring your parents on a weekend evening.

      In all, for consistancy and freshness, I'd definitely stick with Oceanaire.

      1. I agree with FourEyes that Oceanaire is probably your best bet, based on your requirements, even though I've never been to Oceanaire. (I've never been to the M&S here, either, but based on my ho-hum experiences at the M&S's elsewhere, I'd skip it.)

        There are other places for seafood in the Twin Cities, of course, like Tavern on Grand in St. Paul, but none of them are going to be "that formal." Tin Fish (Lake Calhoun snack shack) and Sea Salt Eatery (Minnehaha Park) are both terrific, but super duper informal ( and summer only, of course.)

        You could do something really different like sushi, or even dim sum (lots of seafood items--maybe Mandarin Kitchen --if they are done with their remodelling--or Jun Bo) or lobster, but I'm guessing that's not what you're going for either:

        Jun Bo (dim sum):

        There's also Friday fish fry, of course, but not what you're looking for, I'm sure, because, again, that's very "tavern" based and casual:

        Also probably not what you're going for, but my favorite "seafood" dish in the Twin Cities right now is the "fish fillet and tofu in spicy tasty broth" at Little Szechuan on University Avenue in St. Paul (if you don't mind spicy):

        But, it's good to have options!

        EDIT: Oh, I forgot my other favorite seafood dish in the Twin Cities right now. Again, definitely too casual to meet your needs, but the whole, deep-fried tilapia or the fish tacos at La Sirena Gorda in Midtown Global Market are fantastic.


        1. We've had good luck with Three Fish on Excelsior Blvd. Same price range as McCormick & Schmick's, but better quality, in my opinion.

          9 Replies
          1. re: churchka

            I am not the biggest sea food eater - like salmon and shrimp just as much as the next foodie, but the rest of it...I'll eat it, but it's never my first choice. As such, I've never been to any of the dedicated sea food places. What's Stella's like? It's like 2 blocks from my house, and I've never tried it.

            1. re: pgokey

              Well, if you don't really like seafood a lot...it might not be a good choice. But if you're tastes are similar to other otherwise reluctant seafood eaters, it might be a good choice as you can get just about anything fried. Not that you're the same way, but other people I know that don't love seafood seem to enjoy it when it's been fried, so this might work.

              1. re: Foureyes137

                I might as well be eating chicken then. If I am going to have seafood, I want to enjoy it as seafood, you know what I mean? I like it when I have it, I just never order it.

                When I was on Capri, I had calamari. Not the rings, mind you - the whole thing. It was scored properly, sauteed perfectly. It was practically flakey. Of course, of all the places in the world to get it done properly, that's the place. I really liked it. I've had the breaded calamari rings here in the states a few times - nah, I'll skip it. If I am going to eat sea food, I want it done properly.

                1. re: pgokey

                  Yeah, you can get steamed/baked fish there...but i've found it boring especially when compared with other places in town.

                  And regarding street calamari; seriously good. I had cuttlefish and calamari bbq'd streetside in Thailand and it was incredible. We're going to Italy in Sept, so we might have to make a jaunt out to Capri for some squids!

                  1. re: pgokey

                    Hmmm, "properly"... That's sort of a worrisome word to use in this context. If you mean to rule out the possibility of fried seafood as having been done properly, I guess you likewise rule out a distinction between properly and improperly fried calamari. And yet, of course, there is such a distinction!

                    1. re: gavagai

                      It's not so worrisome. Calamari done wrong, it's rubbery. Done right, it's not. It's pretty simple.

                      And the reason I don't really like the fried stuff is that most of the time when I've had it, I just can't taste it, and it's tough. The likelihood of it being good, versus the likelihood of something else being done properly, just isn't that great. I'll roll the dice on something else, unless the place is known for it's fried calamari. Plus, barring some specific exceptions, I'd rather not eat fried food.

                      1. re: pgokey

                        Calamaretti - junior squid - are delicious fried. The bigger the squid, the less delicious fried generally.

                        "Scoring" calamaretti would be difficult. I think the squid on Capri might have been medium sized or even large. I've had "scored" squid steak, and it was a larger creature. The scoring is a way to speed the saute process so that the outer surfaces cook more evenly with the whole - allows the heat/oil to penetrate and delivers a more tender product. Scoring fish skin in some species has the same effect - more even cooking and a more tender product. Chilean Sea Bass - now off the menu in restaurants that care about sustainable fisheries - has a high oil content and can be cooked by the least attentive cook in the world and still come out somewhat edible. Blah, blah, blah.... Eating the Patagonian Toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass) is a bit like having California Condor egg omelets. Umhh, tastey and increasingly rare.

                        1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

                          I guess you'll have to pardon my nomenclature. It was a medium-to-large squid steak that I had on Capri, along with the tentacles - basically a reconstruction of the whole squid.

                    2. re: pgokey

                      "When I was on Capri, I had calamari. Not the rings, mind you - the whole thing. It was scored properly, sauteed perfectly. It was practically flakey. Of course, of all the places in the world to get it done properly, that's the place. I really liked it. I've had the breaded calamari rings here in the states a few times - nah, I'll skip it. If I am going to eat sea food, I want it done properly."

                      Try the calamari at sea salt. It's very respectable.

              2. Please don't go to M&S. We went last year to use a gift certificate and were really disappointed.

                I've been to Stella's 3 times and the food has always been good, the oysters especially fresh and interesting, but the service is unpredictable. It's fine if you're craving seafood and in Uptown but not a destination.

                Personally I would go to Lucia's or Alma and have whatever seafood they're serving rather than seek out a seafood restaurant, because besides Oceannaire (which I do like but I'm not crazy about the hotel/business dinner atmosphere) the pickings are slim.

                3 Replies
                1. re: katebauer

                  The website to check out Stella's is stellasfishcafe.com --- there you get the menu options and you can check out prices. Since I'm a 20-something person -- it does seem more geared towards the 20-early 40's crowd -the vibe seems a bit more "hip" if that makes sense. The seafood is decent - and they do have fish options. It is pricier than Sea Salt (more formal but it is still the casual, fun atmosphere) - but it's nothing like Oceanaire, Blue Point, or M & S - it's a Parasole company place so think Chino Latino sans Cuban/worldly fare and think seafood.

                  By the way, Stella's can get expensive. If you get a few apps, a main course and some drinks -I've easily spent over $125 for two people- which I don't have a problem with -but it's not like spending $125 at Manny's or Oceanaire.

                  1. re: snoboardbabe77

                    The last time we were at Stella's we tried to use a Parasole gift card and our waiter told us that the restaurant had "become independent" of Parasole at least a year ago.

                    1. re: katebauer

                      Kate called it. Stella's is not part of Parasole anymore, however to snowboard's point; it is filled with suburban youngsters on the weekends (especially the roof) which is off-puting if you are hungry and not cruising for highlights and orange tans ;)

                      But as stated, the oysters are good as is the rest of the raw bar.

                2. I would skip McCormicks

                  Oceanaire is excellent - but spendy & ditto on the prior comment about hotel-y.

                  Zelo has some decent options, the lexington has had great fish as well. In my mind you can't go wrong with alma -no matter what you order & what's on the menu.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: St Paul Susie

                    I had a terrible experience at Alma (with my parents no less) a couple of years ago. We were there late on a Friday and my dad's rabbit was rare, my meat overcooked and the server totally disinterested in serving us. I sent them an e-mail expressing how disappointed I was since I had been there previously and had had great meals, and got no response. So I haven't been back.

                  2. My wife and I usually go to Oceanaire every year for our anniversary. It's great food! For two entres, an app, a side and a couple drinks it's in the $100-130 range with tax and tip. That and I think they have the best service of anywhere I've ever eaten - definately best in Minneapoils.

                    McCormick & Schmick's is good, but I don't know if it's worth the price. My parents really dig Three Fish, although I've never eaten there.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jacobvon

                      Because it's near to our house, I've always wanted to like Three Fish. Unfortunately, I've never been especially impressed. I don't find their seafood outstanding and I think the presentations are bland.

                      I have a relative who is not an adventurous eater, so we go there with her. It's perfectly fine, but I'd never recommend it as an especially chowish place.

                      Places mentioned in this thread:

                      Lucia's Restaurant
                      1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                      Restaurant Alma
                      528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                      Sea Salt Eatery
                      4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417

                      The Tin Fish
                      3000 E Calhoun Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55408

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

                      Tavern On Grand
                      656 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                      Jun Bo
                      7717 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55423

                      Mandarin Kitchen
                      8766 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                      Oceanaire Seafood Room
                      1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                      McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
                      800 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                      Stella's Fish Cafe
                      1402 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                      Blue Point Restaurant & Bar
                      739 East Lake Street, Wayzata, MN 55391

                      La Sirena Gorda
                      920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                      Three Fish Restaurant
                      3070 Excelsior Blvd Ste 206, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                      831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                      Lexington Restaurant
                      1096 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

                      1. re: bob s

                        While I understand what you are saying I think Three Fish might be the perfect venue to take parents. My uncle and cousin like it just fine. There are two other things besides seafood to recommend this place: really good cocktails and attentive service. Without having to take out a loan or go to a chain it's what I'd recommend.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Agreed that it may be a good place for parents - depending on the parents. I'll remember to order a cocktail there next time. Thanks for the tip.

                    2. One of my new favorites is La Sirena Gorda (The fat mermaid) which is in Midtown Global Market. Great very well cooked and fresh mexican seafood. Very inexpensive and a little picante.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: stpaulbreadman

                        La Sirena Gorda is a great place! But it is, if anything, even more casual than Sea Salt. You order at a small stand, food is cooked as it's ordered (the last to order is the last to get their food), and you carry your plate to a table in the middle or at the edge of the building. Just so people know what to expect.

                        But the wait is much less than at Sea Salt. Often there's very little wait at all. And they a have nice Tres Leches cake.


                        La Sirena Gorda
                        920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                        1. re: stpaulbreadman

                          I'll triple endorse La Sirena Gorda. One of the things I like most about that place is the chef's fairly expansive knowledge of various Mexican subcultures. They have Oaxacan dishes, Yucatecan dishes, a traditional ceviche (which is quite good), and they offer daily specials that are terrific. I've had the shrimp enchilada and the shrimp burrito - both great. They sometimes have a whole tilapia with beans and rice as a special.

                          I can't recall the name of the dish, but they have one Yucatecan dish with mahi mahi (I think that was the fish in it...) and pumpkin seed paste that's terrific.

                        2. We ended up going to Oceanaire and I'm glad we did. The food was outstanding. We started with oysters on the half shell and the crabcake appetizer. It was the best crabcake I've ever had. Then shared the BLT salad. For my entree I had the soft shell crabs, my partner had the sea scallops, my mom the salmon sampler and my dad the seafood stew. Everything was great and the service exceptional. It wasn't' cheap (and I didn't pay) but it was a great, great meal.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sullysully

                            It sounds like you had a wonderful meal--I'm glad it worked out. Thank you for reporting back! I'll have to remember those crab cakes!


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Thanks for reporting back! I'm feeling like I need to create a special occasion excuse and book a table!