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Critique my Minneapolis list

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Hello!

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?

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

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

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

Vietnamese
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

Chinese
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
www.jun-bo.com
Monday through Friday, 11am to 11pm. Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 11pm
At 77th Street

Polish
Kramarczuk East European Deli
215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA
(612) 379-3018 www.kramarczuk.com/
At University

American
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

)

Mexican
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
Minneapolis
612-824-4002
Between 2nd and 3rd Ave

Midtown Global Market (7AM-8PM)
www.midtownglobalmarket.org
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

Italian
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)
www.midtownglobalmarket.org
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. www.chinolatino.com

    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. Ah...now 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 ride...in 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.

              ~TDQ

              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!

          ~TDQ

          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.)

            ~TDQ

            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.

                ~TDQ

                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: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423633

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

                  ~TDQ

                  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.

                      ~TDQ

                      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.

                  ~TDQ

                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. 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.

                        ~TDQ

                        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.

                            ~TDQ

                            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.

                            Anne

                            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.

                        2. We have always had very mediocre food at Hell's Kitchen, though I love their hot chocolate.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                            Mediocre? It's on my list to try soon - I hear so many great things about it, including raves from Rick Nelson's podcast this week.

                            1. re: pgokey

                              Many restaurants with mediocre food are raved about. Marketing is a wonderful thing. I should have mentioned that we have only tried breakfast there. They may serve better food at other meals. The hot chocolate is very good.

                              1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                MIKE, you're breaking my heart. I've never been to Hell's Kitchen, but have always wanted to try it. In fact, I intend to try the HK in Duluth when I'm up there soon (of course, HK Duluth could be quite different from HK Minneapolis...) I'm relieved that the hot chocolate is at least good. But, what about the wonderful peanut butter I keep hearing about, or the wild rice porridge? I'm just curious what you tried there that you found disappointing. :( .

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Or the lemon ricotta pancakes that Rick Nelson gushes about? Or the porridge?

                                  1. re: pgokey

                                    The wild rice, cranberry, dried blueberry and hazelnut porridge is excellent--chewy and distinctive. The lemon ricotta pancakes are indeed delicious, lemony and tender. The peanut butter is fresh, nutty and mellow, delicious with lightly toasted slices of New French baguettes. The egg dishes I've had there have been average, although I have had an excellent crab cake/poached egg/hollandaise concoction. The rosti potatoes are just OK by me, but some people love them. For me, all those chives, onions, scallions (and maybe bacon?) equates to too much going on.

                                    My impression is that its reputation has been made more on word-of-mouth than via marketing. In fact, I can't think of much actual marketing I've seen, other than the deliberate staging of the interior and the obviously selective choice of waitstaff. And oh, ok, all the good press!

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Please, do yourself a favour, go to Hell's Kitchen, make your own opinion. You won't regret it and at least, you'll never wonder...

                                    1. re: swissfoodie

                                      I intend to be able to give you my opinion, at least of the Duluth location, very shortly. ;-).

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        And here's my report on the Duluth HK--overall, lovely, creative dishes prepared from high-quality ingredients, but excessively rich for my tastes, which will likely prevent it from becoming a "routine" breakfast spot for me... Based on what I've heard about the MPLS HK, I'm guessing the food is about the same, except that the Duluth location serves dinner and has a full bar.

                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42938...

                                        ~TDQ

                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Definitely try it. You may have a completely different opinion than ours. We have tried a scrambled eggs and shrimp dish which was not seasoned very well and was very watery. The eggs were 80 % cooked, 20 % raw. The large chunks of vegetables were undercooked too. We do not like vegetables cooked to death, but these were big, almost raw chunks. We have tried the bison chops too. The meat was basically tasteless. The eggs on that one were not seasoned and were again basically 20 % raw. We do not like our eggs overcooked either, but raw is raw. We have tried the beer bloody marys too. The bloody mary mix they use is my least favorite. We have found it at other restaurants too. The hot chocolate is really good though..................

                                      We have tried a few other breakfast dishes there with the same opinions on those.

                                      1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                        That's sort of how eggs are supposed to be cooked. I will give you credit, though, by saying that the problem is that every single restaurant I have ever been to cooks them differently than how they are supposed to be cooked. We've been conditioned to accept them at something other than optimal. Runny to almost raw is actually the proper way to prepare scrambled eggs. I saw Wolfgang Puck give a tutorial on it once, and complain how the standard for eggs has been skewed, and how everyone's just went along with it.

                                        Sounds like maybe Hell's Kitchen is trying to pull the standard back a little bit with the firmness of the eggs. But I don't know because I haven't eaten them - just a guess.

                                        1. re: pgokey

                                          I have eaten Wolfgang Puck's food too without being impressed by any of it. I would argue the difference between literally raw and cooked just right though. I use the "it takes 40-50 minutes to cook scambled eggs" method which gives an end product that is very tender with no rubbery texture or free liquid at all. When we have been to Hell's Kitchen, they have been slammed and we are under the impression that they were just slinging food out there as quickly as they could without much thought for quality. We may take another try during a weekday. If they are open Monday morning, I may try them then.

                                    3. re: MIKELOCK34

                                      oh, hell's kitchen is GREAT! handmade jams & jellies, scratch made everything, down to the PB & the ketchup, the ricotta pancakes, the specials-- recently including a sweet-corn hollandise and to-die-for huevos rancheros, the TOAST--i usually order extra, all the better to spread the luscious jams and PB! the real maple syrup, nice waitstaff, the tea served in a dear little nail-head iron pot. . . i could go on for ages. the food at hell's kitchen is lovely, well made and thoughtful, and touched with an unironic sense of humor almost totally absent from the whole town's dining scene. these guys have really been doing their own thing for a while now, and their restaurant(s) stands on its food, not marketing.

                                      EDIT: i do agree with MIKE to give the beer bloody a pass. . .

                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        I love HK and enjoy taking out of towners there. The porridge was my birthday treat this year and left me feeling blissed out and mello the rest of the day. The peanut butter is fantastic as are the lemon ricotta pancakes (they float right off the plate). The sausage bread is also good, smoky and spicy. I took it to Thanksgiving last year and used it as an appetizer.

                                        I'll voice an opposing opinion on the Bloody Mary. They are my favorite in town. I like that they are not as thick as the standard and they are nicely spicy. Tasty indeed.

                                        1. re: Uisge

                                          One of the owners told me that they ship that sausage bread all around the country to various addicts. I wish they'd ship the porridge. Really, it's one of the most unusual and delicious things I've ever eaten, and perfectly matched to my pre-immigrant notions of what Minnesota was all about.

                                          1. re: clepro

                                            oh man, I went to the Hell's Kitchen in Duluth and it was still very very good. On the other hand, the service was very slow and I didn't get enough fruit. Also, the oatmeal sucked, never get the oatmeal.

                                            But, the peanut butter and sausage bread made up for it.

                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                          I was extremely disappointed in Hell's Kitchen today. The tortilla was burned black and couldn't be missed in my huevos rancheros order and the beans were all dried out, yet it was served to me anyway. It was also very, very greasy and not very good. The veggie stir-fry eggs my companions ordered were dry, rubbery and unattractively presented. It was busy, but not overly so, so there wasn't any excuse for the badly made and presented orders. I've always had great food there before, but today's experience will keep me away from Hell's Kitchen for quite awhile because there are many other places in town that serve great breakfasts and they would never try to pass off obviously burned, overly greasy, badly made orders onto clientele. I used to sing only praises for Hell's Kitchen. After today, I can understand others' bad experiences and their inability to see what people are raving about.

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I had breakfast there today - loved it! I had the huervos rancheros - very tasty, filling, flavorable, and not at all greasy. I also got a sampler cup of the porridge - yummy! This is something everybody really must try.

                                            My dining partner went for the boring, but it was executed well. Scrambled eggs - moist and fluffy. The bread is good - I also snuck a taste of the peanut butter, marmalade, and jam brought to the table. My god, that peanut butter is good! He also had fruit - very fresh.

                                            The waiter was one of the most pleasant waiters I've had in a long time.

                                            I loved the decor - they really committed to the theme, without overdoing it and making it cheesy. Just fun enough.

                                            I'm in love with this place.

                                    4. Roberto7, if you're used to Toronto dining, our Greek places will be a big disappointment. Christo's isn't anywhere near as good as a big-city Greek restaurant.

                                      I'd skip it and go for Somali food instead (which seems to have some mideast influences). My current favorite: Safari Restaurant - there's the original restaurant (at 1400 Nicollet) and also a booth at the Midtown Global Market. I've eaten at the MTM booth - the food is great.

                                      Same problem with Chinese food - we're not in Toronto's league. But our Southeast Asian food can hold its own.

                                      For Vietnamese, Kimson is OK, but I prefer Pho Tau Bay (the owner's young kids were running around the last time I was there). Or try Quang, which is big and casual and very family-friendly. (Jasmine Deli is great, but it's very tiny - no room for a stroller.)

                                      True Thai has my favorite Thai food in town, and is casual and relatively child friendly - if they're not busy, ask to be seated in the back room. They're very crowded at dinner time, especially on weekends.

                                      If you like Indian food, there are two great places near Bloomington: Kabobs Restaurant (zero ambience, only a few tables) and India Cafe (vegetarian, fast-food ambiance, great food, extremely child friendly). Here's a helpful thread for the area, which you've probably already seen:

                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38166...

                                      About White Castle, I have only this to say: They're edible ONLY if you're drunk. (I speak from experience.) They don't call them "gut bombs" for nothing... But if you really need to know, more power to you. Just stock up on the antacids.

                                      And most areas in the Twin Cities are safe - some areas on Franklin and Lake Street are quite scruffy, but not dangerous. Lock your car and don't leave valuables in sight, and you'll be fine.

                                      Have a great trip!
                                      Anne

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                                        P.S. The Franklin Market is a corner convenience grocery, with to-go food. This is perhaps the iffiest area on your list, but the worst that would happen is that you'd meet a drunk or a panhandler. (Just like downtown...)

                                        Oh, and here are some places links.

                                        -----
                                        Quang Pastry & Deli
                                        2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                        True Thai Restaurant
                                        2627 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                        Kabobs Restaurant and Meat Shop
                                        7814 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                                        TBS India Cafe
                                        7826 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                                        Franklin Market
                                        1519 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                        Pho Tau Bay
                                        2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                        Safari Restaurant
                                        1410 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                        Safari Express
                                        920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                          I agree that Greek isn't the best here, but if you want Greek, I would opt for It's Greek To Me over Christos. Christos isn't a bad restaurant, though - I don't know where you're coming from. I have had worse Greek in Chicago's Greektown, actually. I have also had better there. It would stay in business there.

                                          Someone said Gardens of Salonica went downhill, but I haven't been there in a year or two. It used to be fantastic. Maybe more voices can chime in. Realize, of course, a very small percentage of actual MSP diners post here.

                                          -----
                                          Gardens of Salonica
                                          19 5th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

                                          It's Greek To Me
                                          626 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                          1. re: pgokey

                                            It was bob s who reported that Gardens of Salonica had gone downhill. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41919... (seconded by AnneInMpls here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40219... ) This is why it's important to have repetition on chowhound--you do want to hear when a place has recently gone downhill (or, uphill, for that matter!) rather than letting a place rest on its laurels.

                                            And thank goodness only a small percentage of actual MPS diners post here--we only want to hear from the ones who "never settle for anything less than optimal deliciousness" (which, frankly, may disqualify me--as I have confessed on numerous occasions, frequently I am influenced unduly by price or comfort or convenience!--but a true chowhound wouldn't be...) http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto We don't really need the input of that other percentage of actual MSP diners, the ones who vote Chipotle as the best "cheap eats" http://bestof.citypages.com/2007/rest... It's fantastic to have multiple perspectives--that's one of the things I love about chowhound-- but, at the end of the day it's the quality of input, not quantity, that is most desired. ;-) .

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I may not be a person who never settles for anything less than optimal deliciousness, but I am a person who doesn't settle for a place where mediocre food is served by servers who don't acknowledge your presence. Sadly, I can't settle for Gardens anymore. (Obviously there are lots of other places I won't settle for either....)

                                        2. re: AnneInMpls

                                          There is a third Indian in Bloominton - Tandoor. Buffet lunches, sit down dinners. The food is good, and they have good chai, lassi, and Republic of Tea bottled iced tea. Note that all three Indian in Bloomington fill different niches. Tandoor is more mainline Indian - saucy dishes on saffron basmati rice. India Cafe is all about the dossa. They do other things as well, but it's really all about the dossa. Kabob has, well, kabobs, and some sauce dishes.

                                          For a similar adventure, there is also Da Afghan in Bloomington, which has Afghani dishes similar to Pakistani curry dishes.

                                          -----
                                          Tandoor Restaurant
                                          8062 Morgan Cir S, Minneapolis, MN 55431

                                          Da Afghan Restaurant
                                          929 W 80th St, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                                          1. re: Loren3

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

                                            ~TDQ

                                        3. Hi, I don't know if I can add much to what has already been said, other than that I have been eating out a lot with little ones. My own child is only 2 months old but I've gone out a lot lately with my baby and with friends' toddlers. Both of the dim sum places were very kid friendly, and we were very happy at Peninsula with a toddler along - the staff seems to love kids and the food is great. We also went to Naviya's Thai (not far from Bloomington) with kids and it went well, but I feel there are better and less expensive Thai places. I actually liked Chiang Mai Thai for babies even though it is a hip and busy Thai restaurant - because it was loud enough to drown out kid noises and you could get booths with high backs on them. It is in the busy uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. We had less luck at the nearby Tum Rup Thai with a toddler, the place was too crowded and the server seemed uncomfortable with children. I disliked my experience at Bad Waitress. You are supposed to write your own ticket and "serve yourself" but I found it frustrating without kids along and think it may be more so with kids. We had to chase down things we needed and I'd rather have full service and better food! I think people like it because it is hip and the concept is gimmicky.

                                          Midtown Global Market is a great place to take kids, and I like Holy Land falafel better than the Falafel King ones (I like mine with lots of tahini). Salsa a la Salsa has a location at the MGM (great tequila selection too!) since I see you have listed their Nicollet Ave spot.

                                          I don't know about Christos but I've seen many young ones at It's Greek to Me - though I agree that there is better Greek in other cities. The service at Jasmine Deli is sooo friendly and has great bahn mi and rice noodle salads, but it is also very very small... I haven't been there yet with a kid. I haven't been to Jerusalem's in years, but it has more upscale decor and belly dancing on the weekend.

                                          I hate to add to your long and excellent list, but if you find yourself wanting to go to casual coffee shop-type places that are kid friendly, I recommend Gigi's or Anodyne in south Minneapolis. Both have toys, highchairs etc., and a small but nice selection of food. Gigis has more food and beverages (including beer and wine), while Anodyne is smaller but has a better wi-fi connection if you need one..

                                          Oh - and I agree that Minnehaha creek is dry as a bone right now - you might want to hike around one of the lakes instead - maybe park in Linden Hills and hike the 3 miles around lake Harriet. Linden Hills neighborhood has a kids bookstore (WIld Rumpus) a cool toy store, and a Sebastian Joe's ice cream location.

                                          1. Since I only know a few categories, being a born and raised Minnesotan, I'll have to say that you have to change a few options. Under Vietnamese, your top choice should be Quang's, followed by Kimson. For Dim Sum you should drop Jun Bo and opt for Mandarin Kitchen, which has the best dumplings in my own opinion. A final addition to middle eastern would be Mediterranean Cruise in Eagan.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: David_Minh

                                              David_Minh, have you been to Mandarin Kitchen since the remodel? Recent reports haven't been encouraging, which makes me sad. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429653

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Yes, I have actually. I think the remodel was to accommodate to the dim sum crowd, because when I went on a sunday afternoon it was packed. Even though it was crowded, our party of six were seated almost right away, and when we wanted something the order came to us very quickly.

                                                But, I haven't tried the regular menu since the remodel, so I can't really say how that aspect of the restaurant is.

                                                1. re: David_Minh

                                                  So, the dim sum is still good? That is fantastic news, indeed!

                                                  ~TDQ

                                            2. Since the subject of lunch came up, I would add a trip to one of the several places that serves the Juicy Lucy, certainly something you won't find outside Minneapolis, and perhaps a trip over to Briano's in Eagan for a Italian beef sandwhich (carry out only).

                                              1. Since you're going to be at the Midtown Global Market, I strongly suggest trying Safari Express, an East African / Somali place - hard to find elsewhere. If you just want to try the food and don't want a meal-sized portion, you can get "Safari cup cuisine" of any meal in their food line for about $5. I've eaten at their full-service location on Eat Street (Nicollet Ave.) and their basmati rice with beef suqqar is delicious.

                                                1. Since you're looking out at a week in town, and you never pointed out the dates of your visit, we don't know that you haven't already been and gone home. If so, my earlier, awful experience at Hell's Kitchen would have gone unnoticed and can only hope you are going to respond and let us know about your foray into the food served here in the Twin Cities.

                                                  If you haven't visited yet, I'd steer you to better, more stable fare for breakfast that is still child friendly than Hell's Kitchen (after today's total rupture in quality and confidence I experienced)....Bon Vie, across the street from Zander's Cafe on Selby - I've never had a bad breakfast there and they're kid friendly. Also, Jays on Raymond, one block north of University is great! Just down the street from there is a very kid friendly Egg and I - On University. Also, the Longfellow Grill and the Highland Grill have great breakfasts!

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: tart1

                                                    Hello everyone,

                                                    We’ve just returned; here is a bit of a recap. Great food trip overall, thank you for all the suggestions!

                                                    Highland Grill- Peter's Burger and fries (6 oz. burger patty, sweet mustard pickle relish, caramelized onion, an over-hard egg and a little ketchup on grilled sourdough bread). This burger was a bit small, served on disappointing Texas toast, accompanied by basic fries. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too different from a burger at Perkins. Very average- we would not repeat.

                                                    Matt’s Bar- Jucy Lucy and fries. Decent greasy burger stuffed with cheese. We didn’t love their choice of processed cheese slice in lieu of something more substantial like block cheddar. The melted cheese may have added moisture but added very little flavor. The burger was also a bit overcooked. Good fries. No bacon available for the burger. Had we not tried Casper and Runyon's Nook, this would have been a repeat spot for future trips.

                                                    Casper and Runyon's Nook- Juicy Nookie (add bacon) and fries. Certainly the best burger of the trip. Brilliantly cooked between medium and medium-rare, filled with robust and flavorful cheddar. The bacon that was added had a sweet hint of maple which added great contrast to the musky flavor of the beef. Great fries as well. Would absolutely repeat this spot.

                                                    Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine- ordered the Beef Rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk with chilies, & spices in a rich red curry) and Hokkien Char Mee (shrimp, squid, pork, vegetables, stir fried with thick yellow noodles in a thick dark soy sauce). Both were good dishes, large portions and good value. Would have expected it to be a bit spicier though. Would revisit.

                                                    Quang Pastry & Deli- ordered the chicken and shrimp pho soup, Chinese sausage and quail egg steamed dumpling, shrimp and pork salad roll, Chinese sausage salad roll. Big portions and good value, however, we preferred the pho at Pho 79 and the salad rolls at Jasmine Deli. It was a bit of a let down considering how popular I perceived it to be. Would not revisit.

                                                    Jasmine Deli- ordered the BBQ beef sub and pork salad rolls. This sandwich was a real standout! The salad rolls were also excellent- better than what we had at Quang. Again, a tremendous value was found here. We would revisit this spot in future trips.

                                                    Pho 79- ordered the seafood pho soup. Huge portion and great value. We preferred this pho to Quang. Very good pho, and we would revisit this spot in future trips.

                                                    Yummy Cheng- ordered steamed shrimp and pork and shrimp mixed dim sum. Tasty, but gets very expensive very quickly. Undecided as to whether we would revisit.

                                                    Kramarczuk East European Deli- roasted mild sausage, cabbage rolls, and sauerkraut. Great meal and would revisit.

                                                    Hell's Kitchen- ordered huevos rancheros and crab eggs benedict. Loved both and great coffee too. Would revisit.

                                                    Bad Waitress Coffee Shop- just coffee but good. Coffee was better at Hell’s.

                                                    Spyhouse coffee bar & Gallery- just coffee but good. Coffee was better at Hell’s.

                                                    Salsa A La Salsa (Nicollet)- split the fajita. Big let down, tasted like Applebee’s. Lack of attention to details, like leaving sinew in the beef. Would not revisit.

                                                    Taqueria Los Ocampo (MGM)- spit chicken quesadilla. Very good and would revisit.

                                                    Holyland (MGM)- chicken thigh and green pepper gyros. Huge and good. Would revisit.

                                                    Punch Pizza (Cleveland)- Salame e Funghi (salami, mushroom, garlic, fontina, oregano). Unbelievable pizza. We had high expectation based on reviews on CH; it not only met, but surpassed those expectations! Wish we had got to Pizza Nea to compare. Would repeat.

                                                    Pizza Luce' Uptown- Classic Pizza (homemade Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and extra cheese). Very good, but preferred Punch (I realize they are different style pizzas). Would repeat.

                                                    Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria- slice of pep pizza. Very good, they used really good mozzarella and plenty of it. Preferred Punch and Luce, but would go again.

                                                    Izzy's Ice Cream- great and would repeat. My Wife’s favorite ice cream of the trip.

                                                    Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream Café- great and would repeat. My favorite ice cream of the trip (Oreo was excellent).

                                                    Crema Café- we found the ice cream a bit too warm and a bit too melted once we got it. What do I know about ice cream though?

                                                    Pumphouse Creamery- we found the ice cream a bit too hard. What do I know about ice cream though?

                                                    1. re: Roberto7

                                                      Wow! What a fantastic report. Thank you so much! Since you were specifically concerned about baby-friendly spots in your original post, I assume most of the places you visited turned out to be okay to visit with a baby, but were there any you found having a baby in tow problematic and you might recommend folks with baby avoid? Also, you mentioned "safety" of the neighborhoods--again, I assume you found all of the neighborhoods acceptable?

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        We found the whole City and every restaurant baby-friendly and we never felt unsafe. Great City- all you locals should be proud.

                                                        1. re: Roberto7

                                                          Roberto, THANK YOU for taking the time to report back. Sounds like a great trip.

                                                      2. re: Roberto7

                                                        great summary, thanks for reporting back, Roberto!

                                                        1. re: Roberto7

                                                          Thanks for the report. As an FYI, The Bad Waitress serves Spyhouse coffee -- I think they're under common ownership -- so it's no surprise that you had similar feelings about both.

                                                          1. re: bob s

                                                            correct, bob s-- same owner.

                                                        2. re: tart1

                                                          I know this is an old thread, but I'm bumping it to say Zander's is closed. I think Cheeky Monkey Deli is there now.

                                                          ~TDQ