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Aug 9, 2007 09:24 AM

Critique my Minneapolis list


I'm visiting Minneapolis for a week with my wife and 1 yr old baby (with car). Baby will be in tow at all restaurants. We try to avoid high-end because the baby may spoil it for other patrons. Our hotel is in Bloomington by the way. I tried to organize the restaurants by ethnicity- I'm sure I stretched the definitions a bit. Are any of these areas unsafe? Are these pretty good choices?

Ketsana Thai
7545 Lyndale Ave
(612) 869-0087
Between 75th and 76th

Christos Greek Restaurant
2632 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN, USA - (612) 871-2111
Between 26th and 27th

Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine -
2608 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis - (612) 871-2863
Between 26th and 27th

Kimson Vietnamese
8654 Lyndale Ave S
(952) 885 0230
Between 86th and 90th
M-Th 10a-9p; F-Sa 10a-10p; Su 4:30p-9p

Quang Pastry & Deli
2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 870-4739
Between 27th and 28th

Jasmine Deli
2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 870-4700
Between 25th and 26th

Pho Tau Bay (closed Mondays
)2837 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 874-6030
Between 28th and 29th

Pho 79
2529 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 871-4602
Between 25th and 26th

Evergreen Chinese Restaurant
2424 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA - Eat Street
(612) 871-6801
Between 24th and 25th

Mandarin Kitchen
8766 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420, USA
(952) 884-5356
Between 86th and 90th

Dim Sum
Yummy Cheng
2450 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 870-8000
Between 24th and 25th

Jun Bo
7717 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55423, USA
(612) 866-6888
Monday through Friday, 11am to 11pm. Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 11pm
At 77th Street

Kramarczuk East European Deli
215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA
(612) 379-3018
At University

White Castle
100 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN, USA
(612) 827-5444
East of Lyndale at Blaisdell

Hell's Kitchen
89 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA
Between Marquette Ave and Nicollet Mall

Band Box Diner
729 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 332-0850
At Chicago Ave.

Bad Waitress Coffee Shop
2 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 872-7575
At Nicollet Ave.

Wally's Roast Beef
2113 W 90th St
Bloomington, MN 55431, USA
(952) 884-4349
(east of Penn Ave S


Pancho Villa Restaurant
2539 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 871-7014
Between 25th and 26th

Salsa A La Salsa
1420 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA
(612) 813-1970
Between 14th and 15th

Pineda Taco's
311 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN, USA
(612) 825-7466
Between 3rd Ave and Clinton

Taqueria La Hacienda
334 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 822-2715
Between Clinton and 4th

Gorditas El Gordo
211 E. Lake St
Between 2nd and 3rd Ave

Midtown Global Market (7AM-8PM)
920 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA
(612) 872-4041
At Chicago Avenue

- Taqueria Los Ocampo (al pastor tacos, chicken tinga tacos, huaraches al pastor
)- La Serena Gorda

Pizza Nea
106 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 767-3600
East of Lyndale at Blaisdell

Pizza Luce' Uptown
3200 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 827-5978
At 32nd

Middle Eastern
Midtown Global Market (7AM-8PM)
920 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA
(612) 872-4041
At Chicago Avenue
- Holy Land Bakery (Shawarma


Jerusalem's Restaurant
1518 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA
(612) 871-8883
Between 15th and 16th

Franklin Market
1519 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA
(612) 871-8060
Between 15th Ave and Bloomington Ave

Falafel King
701 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
(612) 824-7887
At Lyndale

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  1. As a Montrealer who is spoiled by great food, I can tell you that I have had some great dining experiences in Minneapolis. Definately head to Hell's Kitchen for breakfast/brunch - worth it just for their jams but then everything else is just as tasty. Another option for dinner that is not on your list is Chino Latino. They serve food from around the equator so it's a bit of asian, african, carribean, etc. Great atmosphere and the food is quite interesting.

    11 Replies
    1. re: swissfoodie

      Thank you for the feedback. Is CL a baby-friendly place?

      1. re: Roberto7

        I'm assuming you've read the posts on here about the places you list. Some of them are very peculiar like Wally's Roast Beef (excellent lunch spot if you're into roast beef sandwiches and other comfort food like hot open turkey sandwiches, meatloaf, etc.). I also like a White Castle every now and then but I'm curious why that's on your list (sentimental reasons?).

        Chino Latino can be very crowded and attracts the young, hip set. That said, the noise/large space/crowds remove any worry about bothering other diners if your kid gets restless. I have dined there with my kids (I think they were 3 and 1 at the time) and enjoy the place.

        As far as "unsafe", that probably depends on your perception and frame of reference. Personally, very few places make me feel "unsafe". But, I'm accustomed to urban environments and take due precautions (don't flash a lot of money when I'm paying for stuff, don't walk alone down urban streets at night, etc.). The Franklin Halal Market, which I've posted about here a few times and appears on your list, is in a depressed urban pocket. The store itself has zero atmosphere. I suspect many people unaccustomed to that kind of environment would feel very uncomfortable there. But, if you're a true chowhound looking for a wonderful gyro and a bottle of soda (and nothing else) that's among the best our city has to offer. (I know very few 1 year-olds who like a 1.5 pound gyro sandwich...maybe this isn't a good option for your itinerary).

        Same goes for White Castle on Lake Street. I've been there many times. But I'm comfortable amid drunk, passed out panhandlers and being a minority (I am white, usually dressed in business-ish attire). If that's not your bag, there's a White Castle in Bloomington on Lyndale Avenue at about 98th Street I think. Probably much closer to your hotel.

        1. re: MSPD

          Thank you for the insight!

          - Wally's: we love smoked meat sandwitches like Schwartz's and Dunn's in Montreal. We thought this place might be simliar, thoughts?

          - We don't have White Castle in Canada, so we thought we'd try what Harold and Kumar got so worked-up about. Thanks for the tip about the Bloomington location.

          1. re: Roberto7

            Oh good God, NO!

            Wally's is NOTHING at all like those places. It's simple, American home cooking. Think a slice of meatloaf on top of a scoop of mashed potatoes on top of a slice of Wonder brand white bread doused in brown gravy served very hot. Stick to your ribs kind of food. Have you ever had an Arby's roast beef sandwich? Wally's #1 product is similar but a bit more carefully crafted on a better, fresher bun. But by no means is it an institution like the places you mention. I like to eat there in the winter or before I'm going to build a deck or drywall a room, not to seek out a culinary masterpiece.

            As for White Castle, and sorry to burst your bubble again, there is absolutely nothing special about the food. It's like Swanson TV Dinners or Chef Boyardee canned food...sometimes you're just in the mood for that stuff because it reminds you of your youth or you just emptied a 12-pack of Kokanees. Sure...go there and satisfy your curiousity, but keep your expectations very, very, very low and by all means, don't go far out of your way for it. Order only the burgers. The people at White Castle are enjoying their food in the way Kobayashi or Joey Chestnut are enjoying their Nathan's hot dogs on the 4th of July.

            Definitely do Mandarin Kitchen and order adventurously. I would also select Quang, Kramarczuk's and the Midtown Global Market from your list. Not only will you enjoy good food but you'll see a variety of Minneapolis neighborhoods. Do a search on here for Izzy's Ice Cream in St. Paul (very easy to get to from Minneapolis or Bloomington) and do consider Punch (the location on Cleveland Avenue) IF, IF, IF you like Neapolitan pizza. As I've said before, Izzy's/Punch makes for a very delicious evening out.

            Take your kid to Minnehaha Falls park, grab something to nosh on from Sea Salt Eatery and push his/her stroller up the path to the waterfall. Make your way a few hundred yards over to the Mississippi River if you want a longer walk. Beautiful urban scenery and you'll be among dozens of other families out enjoying the day. you're in Minnesota.

            1. re: MSPD

              Very sad but true: with the drought and the closing of the dam from Gray's Bay, the Minnehaha Creek is not really a creek right now. Almost no water is passing over the falls and frankly, the streambed above the falls just reeks. It's not as satisfying a destination as it has been, right now.

              For Sea Salt, another sad truth: do take a peek at the menu on the chalkboard, and if you'd like anything besides icre cream then leave one person on line for the 20-40 minutes it can take to place an order while the other person takes the little one up to the playground. The person on line can then locate a table for the additional time it may take to receive your order.

              1. re: KTFoley

                KT, thanks for the info on the falls.

                Regarding Sea Salt, they're here for a week so I would recommend a weekday lunchtime/early afternoon visit. I've never had to wait in line at lunchtime -- I come from Eagan, order and eat, and I'm back to work in an hour easily. Come to think of it, I've never been there on a nice-weather weekend except to buy a drink during a bike all of my visits, I've never had to wait in line at all.

                1. re: MSPD

                  You're right on that detail: one might have better luck mid-day & midweek ... or on one of those rainy, rainy days we've needed so badly.

                  Though I did try a weekday lunch just once last year and was indeed waiting in line. Haven't picked up anyone at the airport since then, so it was my first and last.

            2. re: Roberto7

              HA! As far as I know, there's nothing like Schwartz's in the Twin Cities. But I would love to be proven wrong if someone knows of such a place.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Pastrami Jack's in Eden Prairie, Shady Oak Road and Hwy. 62

                I'm assuming smoked meat is similar to pastrami. They get their meat sent in every day from the Carneige Deli in NYC. The guys who run the place, on the other hand, are from Toronto. It is as close as Mpls. gets to real New York deli.

                1. re: fred the fressor

                  But unfortunately not worth the trip at all if you're looking for an experience similar to Schwartz's and Dunn's.

          2. re: Roberto7

            more of a twentysomething meat market, big foo-foo drink and pu-pu platter place.

        2. Argh! I just wrote a long reply and lost it.

          This is a very ambitious list!

          ~Jun Bo--average dim sum, but child friendly.
          ~Mandarin Kitchen--a chowhound favorite for dim sum, but call ahead because they were recently closed for renovation. Expect a wait.
          ~Midtown Global Market--great choice, very child friendly. Not a super fantastic neighborhood to stroll about alone or in the dark, but, really, probably perfectly safe.
          ~Gorditas, La Hacienda, and Pineda are all within a few blocks of each other. Not a super great neighborhood--I think you'd be better off at Midtown Global Market, personally, (La Sirena Gorda or Taqueria Los Ocampo). EDIT: my recommendation of these three would be La Hacienda, though because it has a lot of space and is probably easy to get around with with a baby.
          ~Pho 79--one of my favorite places for pho
          ~Kramarczuk East European Deli--I love this place. Definitely child-friendly.
          ~White Castle--there are much better places for "American" food, if you mean burgers, in the Twin Cities. White Castle is a beloved fast food chain, but an acquired taste, really. How about instead the Nook in St. Paul that serves jucy lucys (cheese stuffed burgers) on a bakery bun with hand cut french fries? It's very child friendly even though it's a bar. Even the Napa Valley Grille in the Mall of America would probably be a better choice for a good burger (in my opinion) than White Castle.

          EDIT: I've been at the following places with folks who had a toddler along: Midtown Global Market, La Hacienda, Gorditas and Jun Bo and there have been no problems as far as I could tell. I see kids at the Nook all the time. Other child-friendly burger spots: Highland Grill (St. Paul), Longfellow Grill (Minneapolis), Groveland Tap (St. Paul). Even Andy's Garage in Midtown Global Market.

          Have fun! Please report back!


          9 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            More thoughts (on places that might be fun with kids):

            If you get to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, there's a little snack shack "Tin Fish" that's kinda fun. Sea Salt Eatery if you can bear the long wait is a "snack shack" in Minnehaha Park and might be fun.

            Don't forget to get some ice cream somewhere! Lots of good choices this time of year. Izzy's in St. Paul is my personal favorite...

            In St. Paul, on West 7th which is what Highway 5 becomes, you could try Cossetta's (pizza slices and other Italian, very casual--fantastic little grocery.)

            Also, there's a sister restaurant to the Nook on West 7th called Shamrocks--very kid friendly. (Not a super walkable neighborhood, right there, but, if you just park in their lot across the street and zip in and zip out, you'll be fine.)


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Thanks for the burger tips. Are Highland, Longfellow and Groveland essentially interchangeable since they seem to be under the same ownership?

              1. re: Roberto7

                I would say Highland and Longfellow (and Edina Grill, too) are virtually interchangeable menu-wise. However, Longfellow has a nice bar and also a lovely patio that is great for people-watching this time of year (Longfellow is right next to the river so you can watch the joggers and cyclists, etc. ) I don't know if they do it at Highland, but at Longfellow, they will give the kids a little bucket of toys to play with. Longfellow also has a cramped little parking lot that you can usually find a spot in.

                Groveland Tap, while under the same ownership, has more of the feel of a bar with good food (we bring our children to bars in MN!) than a restaurant, and its menu is a bit different. It's a real neighborhood place and there are always lots of children there. I love the cajun lucy, the all you can eat Friday fish fry, and the portabella mushroom burger at Groveland Tap.

                Highland and Longfellow are good for breakfast, burgers and other dinner type dishes. I used to love their sweet potato fries, but either the novelty has worn off for me or the recent change they made to them has simply put me off. Nevertheless, I order them almost every time I go in lest I might recapture my intial love of them.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Also, if you REALLY want to try the best burger in the Twin Cities, here's a link to a recent "Best Burger" thread:

                  I would also describe the Nook and the Shamrock as "bars with good food," rather than restaurants.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Serious question here, what are local restaurants' attitudes towards cooking burgers in a fashion other than med-well? Can a med burger be found anywhere?

                    1. re: Roberto7

                      Yes, I'm sure you could find a medium burger somewhere, but, I don't really eat a lot of burgers other than jucy lucy's ( burger is a rare indulgence for me), which are medium anyway, so I can't think of which places, off the top of my head who would do that for you. It would likely have to be one of the higher end restaurants like 112 Eatery or Craftsman or Town Talk Diner, etc. Hopefully someone will chime here with the name of a place that will truly cook it to spec. Sorry I can't be of much help on that point.


                      1. re: Roberto7

                        I've gotten them medium rare at Craftsman and Bulldog NE.

                        1. re: churchka

                          When you go to a place that uses high quality beef and grinds their own on the premises, medium rare is the only way to go. Bulldog NE uses Kobe beef, and if they cook is any more than medium rare or medium, it ruins the meat. Because they are grinding their own, bacteria isn't really an issue. I've been at both Craftsman and Bulldog with people who are reluctant to accept this, and had to kitchen cook the burgers medium well, and received ruined burgers, only to get them and say "I wish I would have listened."

                          Of course, this rule only applies to beef burgers.

                          If/when I go back to BLB and try their grass fed burgers again, I am to ask where their burger is ground up, and if it's on the premises, I am going to make sure the burger is only cooked medium rare so I can taste the beef.

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I know this is an old thread, but I'm bumping it to say Jun Bo is closed.


                3. I've never been to the Franklin Market - I'm imagining the area and it might really be more of a market than a restaurant. Anyone know? I'd recommend Holy Land either at its original location or in MGMkt if you're looking for Middle Eastern.

                  I'd also say that Chino Latino is not baby friendly. The tables are very tight together, it's loud, and you have to go down a steep flight of stairs to get to the bathroom (I've stumbled many a time when I've had too many cocktails).

                  If you want sushi I would go to Midori's on 27th Ave and Lake St. It's very family friendly and tasty.

                  Also, several restaurants in the cities are closed on Mondays - I'd definitely call ahead.

                  1. The original comment has been removed
                    1. Ketsana Thai is now closed.

                      Near your hotel in Bloomington - I would vouch for Kimson; they have tasty pho. I get the seafood pho.

                      Also near your hotel - Falafel King just opened a full-service restaurant at 82nd and Lyndale in Bloomington. They do have good falafel and grape leaves, and their toasted feta app is quite tasty. It's a nicer venue than their location at Lake and Lyndale.

                      A few blocks from Bloomington on Portland just south of 494 are a couple of interesting little Indian bistros.

                      Don't even get started on the Pizza Nea/ Punch/ Luce debate. Depending on where you are coming from, none of the three are so absolutely great that they're worth squandering one of your few nights out. If it's Italian you want, Broder's would be a better choice, but note that this town is not famous for its Italian.

                      Salsa a la Salsa on Nicollet is spotty, you might get lucky and you might not. Better choice is Pancho Villa or any of the places on East Lake. Pancho Villa has great seafood selections.

                      Definitely worth a cruise through midtown global market.

                      Peninsula serves some really really good ginger duck.

                      Enjoy your visit to the Twins!

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Loren3

                        Sorry, Loren, but I will say something about the pizza: Punch does in fact harken to the pizzas I had in Naples. The trick is not to ruin it by asking for tons of toppings on it, because neapolitan pizza is not meant to have lots of topping on it. Nea is also good pizza, and so is Luce, although it's different. I simply think it's sort of a pointless exercise to tell people not to eat at these places because you can get it better elsewhere in the world. If you go to any one of these three places, you'll get a good meal. Punch is the standout, for my money. When I'm eating there, I close my eyes, and I am back to the Amalfi Coast.

                        Other than that, for Mexican, Pancho Villa would rise to the top of the list. The places at Midtown Global Market are also very much worth checking out. I would also strongly suggest checking out Mercado Central. It's the exact same idea as Midtown Global Market, just a few block East of there, and it's very safe. Some of the other Mexican places on East Lake you mentioned would require you to park in some shifty areas. Not horrible areas, but a little shifty. Not places I would recommend for people from out of town. Mercado Central does have its own lot, but it's small. The street marking around there is safe. The place has 4 food stands, and the food is terrific. Two of the vendors also have stands in Midtown Global Market (La Loma, which has great tamales, and Manny's Tortas) but I think the Mercado Central locations for both stores make better food.

                        The other upside of Mercado Central, of course, is that you get several Mexican restaurants under one roof. You could do Midtown Global Market one day, and try non-Latin foods - Lord knows there is plenty of other things to try there - and then do Mercado Central another day for Mexican.

                        It's really kid friendly, too. There is a bakery for fun desserts. There are stores with fun little gifts. Neat things to see in there.

                        Mercado Central
                        1515 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                        1. re: pgokey

                          Personally, I wouldn't take a toddler to the St. Paul (Highland Park neighborhood on Cleveland Avenue) location of Punch--way too crowded. But, that's probably my perspective as a person who doesn't want to sit next to someone else's unruly toddler (I'm not suggesting your toddler will be unruly, but we all have our bad moments...even the grownups) grabbing stuff off my table etc... (the tables are very close together and there's almost always a wait.) I don't know how their other locations compare.

                          I say avoid the whole Punch/Nea/Luce debate and go to Red Savoy's or Carbone's for "old style" Minnesota pizza. If you must have pizza.

                          I love Mercado Central. It is very authentically Mexican. I thought about recommending it but it is super-duper crowded--I almost always have to share a table with strangers when I eat there. Getting to interact with strangers is part of the appeal for me, actually, but it may not be for you. If you have an unweildy stroller it could be awkward due to the crowds and small aisles. If you worry about the toddler getting ahold of little knickknacks from some of the arts and crafts type vendors, it could be hard (the aisles aren't as wide as Midtown Global Market where it might be easier to keep your eye on a little person.) Parking is easier at Midtown Global Market, too.

                          I agree that the La Loma tamales and Manny's in Mercado Central are slightly better than the Midtown Global Market locations (in fact, I won't eat the tamales at Midtown Global Market because I think they are pretty miserable), but only marginally so. I think the convenience of Midtown Global Market outweighs the difference. The tortas at Manny's in both locations are good (my favorite is the cubana.) The La Loma tamales in Mercado Central are pretty good, but not outstanding. If you don't get to have tamales very often, it might be worth it, I suppose. If I had to pick just one or two "Mexican" meals, think Sirena Gorda and Taqueria Los Ocampos (both in Mercado Central) are far better than the Mercado Central La Loma. If I'm in the mood for a torta, I think any of the THREE locations of Manny's (all on Lake Street) are sufficient, depending on what's most convenient for me.

                          I love the bakery at Mercado Central. There's a Mexican baker in Midtown Global Market, too, but it's not as fun.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            I am not sure why people lump Luce in with Nea and Punch - the pizza isn't similar at all. They don't serve neapolitan pizza there. But I would endorse the recommendation of Red Savoy's or Carbone's in the abstract - good pizza done in a local style. Edit in: I have never been the Highland Punch. I have actually only been to the Calhoun location, which actually repels me at times because of all the toddlers there. Too far away from Uptown and too close to St. Louis Park, maybe.

                            I see parents with kids at Mercado Central quite often, actually. While some of the tables are community tables, they also have tables that are 4-6 person tables too. I have also been there many times when I have been the only person at a table. Just note that there are a wide range of experiences at the place.

                            1. re: pgokey

                              I stay out of the Punch/Nea/Luce debate-inevitably the mention of one draws out discussion of the other two, exactly as happened earlier in this thread. ;-).

                              RE: Mercado Central--If all of the tables are taken and there is no seating at the long tables tables, you are at the mercy of some kind soul to offer you a seat at their table. Which they may or may not do if you have a toddler along. I've seen plenty of Spanish-speaking children at Mercado Central, children for whom this is their community. I don't recall seeing many other, or any other, children there. But, yes, I've seen kids there picking out their pinatas or birthday cakes from the book at the bakery. And this has been pretty true whether on evenings or during the day.


                              1. re: pgokey

                                I ate dinner at the Calhoun Punch tonight - it was like putting little slices of Naples in my mouth! Anyway, the point of my post is this: I figured out the reason why that location is like a toddler magnet. The outdoor seating has moveable tables, which is very amenable for parents with strollers. And more notably, they provide high chairs indoors.

                                1. re: pgokey

                                  I have one more comment about Punch - they have D.O.C. certification from the Italian government. You just can't get more authentic. The comments about how you can skip the place because you can get better pizzas elsewhere just ring false. I would hazard a guess that when one finds a D.O.C. pizzeria in the states, it's worth a visit if you like neapolitan pizza.

                                  1. re: pgokey

                                    But - authentic doesn't always mean good.

                                    True, I've only tried the East Hennepin location, and from all reports that's the worst of the lot as far as Punch goes. But when I travel around the US looking for what's good in any give town, pizza is never on the list.

                            2. re: pgokey

                              Forget the pizza debate - is Ketsana's really closed? Tell me it isn't true!

                              I know they did some remodeling recently, but I was there afterwards - it was just a month or two ago. It's on my way home, and I would like to think I could still swing by for their papaya salad.

                              I would be more distraught, but Naviya's Thai just opened nearby. So there's still a Thai option in Edina/Richfield/Bloomington. It's time I tried it.


                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                When I was there for what I'd hoped would be lunch a week ago the doors were locked, lights were out, no vehicles were in the lot and there was an alarming number of legal papers stuck under the door handle. My nosiness does have its limits so I don't know what the papers said, but it sure doesn't look good.

                                1. re: clepro

                                  And the phone is disconnected.