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Minneapolis delicacies

I will be spending 3 days in Minneapolis mid September. Whenever I travel to new areas I search for unique local foods (ex “Beef on Wick” – Buffalo). Anything I should not leave MPLS without trying?


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  1. B. T. McElrath chocolates are made there. Fabulous artisanal, handmade, small production - that taste even better than they look. You can get them in some other places in the US but they're easier to get in the Twin Cities. I'm addicted. The passion fruit is a triumph. Then there are the lemon, truffles, toffee, mango...

    5 Replies
    1. re: MakingSense

      Definitely the Jucy Lucy mentioned below, and I'd also recoomend Punch Pizza - not necessarily a Mpls delicacy (they are the true pizza from Napoli, Italy, not invented here), but still a rarity in the USA: wood oven, super thin crust, real tomatoes, just the right amount of cheese

      1. re: MariQ

        I've said it before and I'll say it again. There's nothing so special about Punch (or any local pizza other than square cut, and that's really just a novelty) that it warrants a rec to an out-of-towner with a limited schedule - especially if they're looking for something uniquely Minnesotan. You can get better Sicilian in almost every major city in the US. It might be different if it was not a chain (local though it is) and were really run by Sicilians, and it was truly perfect. But it's not.

        1. re: Loren3

          It's not uniquely Minnesotan but it is awfully good - neapolitan pizza done to perfection. It's the only place in MN that's DOC certified by the Italian government. But you're right that it doesn't give someone a sense of Minnesota culture.

          1. re: pgokey

            Right pgokey, Punch is Neapolitan pizza not Sicilian pizza. Nothing like Sicilian and not meant to be. Which is why it's Vera *Napoletana* pizza..Sicilian pizza is actually more of a calzone..not really pizza at all.

            Anyway, and that's a BIG anyway..I've grown up with square cut
            pizza in East St Paul and it is one of the only truly Minnesotan (really more St. paul than mpls I think but now I'm nit-picking) things I've run into. It's not just the cut but the sauce which is usually a little sweeter and the thin cracker-like crust.

            I, ahem, do prefer Punch and (naples style) pizza in Italy more these days. Those little squares though transport me to having a pizza delivered while being babysat and getting to stay up and watch mary tyler moore and carol burnett while eating pizza squares and drinking root beer from one of those cartons they used to deliver. Back then, I went for only the middle pieces. The ones w/the cheese and everything spilling about an inch beyond the crust. Now I go for the outside pieces which are actually sometimes triangle shaped, albeit sometimes a very small isosceles triangle..

            1. re: cherrylime

              And I did mean Naples, not Sicily. Sorry.

    2. Yep. We've got a thing here called the Juicy (sometimes Jucy) Lucy. It's a cheeseburger with the cheese stuffed inside it. The original is at Matt's Bar (http://www.mattsbar.com/). Another good version is at the 5-8 Club and a slightly upscale version can be found at Buster's on 28th (http://busterson28.com/). There are many other places on the east side of Minneapolis (and some good ones in St. Paul too) near the Mississippi River and Light Rail. There's even a Wikipedia article on the "Cheesesteak of Mpls" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jucy_Lucy


      Matt's Bar
      3500 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407

      Buster's on 28th
      4204 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

      58 club [SEE 5-8 CLUB]
      5800 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

      2 Replies
        1. re: mnitchals

          The lucy I had a Buster's was a, um, bust. The cheese had ran all out of the burger before the plate arrived to my table. They use blue cheese and mascarpone - just not the right cheeses for a lucy. The bun was also much larger than the burger, and it was stale.

          Casper & Runyon's Nook in St. Paul is a better bet than Buster's. I tend to like the 5-8 Club more than Matt's.

          Nook [DUPLICATE]
          492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

        2. Depending where you are coming from, you may not be familiar with square cut pizza. Thin crust pizza cut into squares is unique (I understand) to the Midwest. I think Dulono's on Lake Street is the best. Others like Savoys in St. Paul.

          8 Replies
            1. re: jonlabo

              No, square cut pizza is totally different than Sicillian pizza. Siciliian is deep and doughy, this is just plain old pizza cut in squares (I totally don't understand the appeal).

              1. re: katebauer

                Different strokes, really. No right or wrong, or understanding necessary. I personally like it because sometimes I want crust, sometimes I want no crust. Somtimes I want a little crusty "corner" piece, and sometimes a saggy middle piece. It's like a little adventure, and it's diverse, just like MN these days!

                1. re: FishMPLS

                  Absolutely, no right or wrong. I'm just always confused by the desire for a square cut pizza, since those middle pieces are pretty saggy, plus part of the point of having crust is having a little handle for the pizza and those middle pieces don't have that.

                  Of course the same issue of no crust is true for Sicillian pizza - but Sicillian pizza feels like a completely different animal to me than regular pizza. We only got Sicillian for birthday parties growing up since you get more pizza per pie.

                  1. re: katebauer

                    My only requirement is that the pizza NEVER touches cardboad (if pizza touches cardboard, it sucks up that cardboard flavor in an instant and MORPHS!! before your palate!! - Yuck!!!). Other than that...I'd say the best for squares is Carbones!

                2. re: katebauer

                  I’ve always found that one of the advantages of the square cut is that it makes for good bar food. All the smaller portions make for easy sharing when there’s a bunch of you sitting around a table with a pitcher or two. And the squares fit nicely on a cocktail napkin instead of the plates you might need for traditional slices.

                  Uncle Ira

                  1. re: Uncle Ira

                    The disadvantage of square cut pizza, my favs being Red's Savoy and Carbone's (the one on Randolph near Snelling), is that you always have room for just one more tiny square and, before you know it, the whole darn pizza is gone. Edit: oh, I see Loren3 made almost the identical point below.


              2. re: churchka

                Also, Toast Wine Bar and Cafe serves their Lavosh style pizzas square cut. I think part of the charm is that you can delude yourself on how many "slices" you are eating.

              3. Here's a recent thread where we discuss chow unique to the area:


                Have fun! Please report back.


                1. Wild rice is a Minnesota food. Others on this list can fill in where you can find it, but a common thing restos have here is wild rice soup - usually creamy with some diced veggies and either ham or chicken - one of those MN "comfort foods". Soup is the most common way you'll see it on a menu. (I often make it as a side dish at home, and that's how I best like it.)

                  Walley is another MN item you'll find on menus. (You didn't say where you're coming from so it's hard to know how "alien" a food might be to you that WE, in MN, consider "normal" or "available" (always, seasonally, or for specific holidays).

                  Lefse and Lutefisk are MN known, especially in Lutheran Church basements during the Christmas holidays. A trip to Ingebretsen's on Lake St. would give you a GREAT taste of "delicacies" the Scandanavians in the area indulge in (or NOT, if you're a second or third generation). Ingebretsens is an "institution" in the Twin Cities for Swedish potato sausage, blood sausage, and a bunch of other Scandanavian things...which leads me to wonder if you are familiar with pickled herring? If not, that is a local delicacy.

                  And from there, I'll await your reply about where you're coming from.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: tart1

                    So to answer your questions, I am flying in from San Francisco. So Walley is pretty alien to me. How would you describe the fish? Is it a whitefish? Oily?

                    Growing up in NY I did enjoy pickled herring, although what I grew up with may be completely different from MN pickled herring...

                    Thanks for the Ingebretsen's suggestions!

                    1. re: jonlabo

                      Yes, whitefish, no not particularly oily. If you're familiar with zander, walleye is very close to that.

                      Here's a link to a more thorough description of the fish: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/walle...

                      As well as a link to a recent discussion explaining that most walleye sold in restaurants in MN are from Canada, in spite of the fact that walleye is the state fish of MN:


                      My favorite place for walleye lately is at Fisher's Supper Club in Avon, MN--it's about 110 minutes north of the Twin Cities, so, probably not on your agenda, unfortunately.



                      1. re: jonlabo

                        Forgive me if this is confusing - it's been a very long, long week at work with only a few hours at home before working again.

                        If you're coming from San Fran., walley is best described as a "fresh water" white fish as opposed to a sea water white fish...it's also a colder water "fresh water" fish, which is a good thing....to confuse you even more... so not being a fish connoisseur, yet liking "good" fish a lot, I'd say that it's more delicate than salt water white fish (flakes a lot easier for one thing), the meat tends to "look" veinier, but that's normal, they are smaller (definitely), yet if you like fish in general, especially white fish, I think you'd like it as well as your favorites. It does tend to have some bones in it, even when filleted, and they are thinner/finer bones than sea going fish have, but manageable (walley's cousin, the northern pike has A LOT of bones (especially tons of "Y" shaped bones) and they're much more prolific in fillets than walley's), and if you know that ahead of time, you'll catch them without a problem. Walley in general is a good very good fish to broil, pan fry, and even bread and deep fry.

                        Also, as someone else suggested, Minnesota has some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the country so if you like SE Asian food, there are plenty of places for you to try for that also.

                        And again, even if you don't try it here, at least buy a bag of wild rice to bring home with you to make later (much cheaper here - my sisiter lives out west and always buys a load of wild rice while here to give as gifts because it's half or a third the cost here from where she lives) [lots of recipes on the web already].

                        1. re: tart1

                          Tart1 is correct -- it's a white-fleshed fish from cold lakes, and much more delicate than seagoing ones. As others have said, this game fish is subject to catch limits that prevent commercial harvest in Minnesota. But it IS a classic Minnesota dish because anglers just love it.

                          Also note that the spelling is "walleye" and the pronunciation is exactly that: "wall-eye." It doesn't rhyme with "valley."

                          Wild Rice:
                          Did you know that "wild rice" is the common name for a genus of aquatic plant? Some of it is cheaper because only the name is wild.

                          The expensive stuff here really does grow wild in flooded soils of the Great Lakes region. Minnesota law requires that natural stands of wild rice must be hand-harvested by the traditional canoe-and-flail method. It's a foraged crop, like morel mushrooms, with a corresponding price.

                          The cheaper stuff is grown here (and in CA, ID, WI & OR) from cultivars that were bred to increase yield. Commercial operations harvest their product mechanically, like with a combine or an airboat. It's a field crop, like white button mushrooms, which is why it costs less.

                          Citation: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/pr...

                          1. re: KTFoley

                            This is really interesting. Do you know anywhere that serves "real" wild rice? And do they sell it in local stores?

                            I just have never thought about this beyond the porridge at Hell's Kitchen that has the wild rice in it and is one of my favorite MN dishes.

                            1. re: RedPepper

                              Byerly's and Lunds have it--make sure you get the hand-harvested (not cultivated) kind. All the co-ops will have it.

                              I think they sell it cooked and frozen at Von Hanson's (for those too busy to cook it themselves...)

                              Most restaurants that focus on local and seasonal foods will have wild rice dishes on their menus, too, though it's often pretty hearty and is easier to incorporate (I think) in fall and winter. You mention the wild rice porridge at Hell's Kitchen--that's a biggie, but there's also the loon omelet at Key's Cafe that I love. The wild rice soup at Cafe Minnesota (history center.) Bon Vie on Selby had a wonderful wild rice salad--it's been awhile since I've been there, but, maybe I should go back and try it. It was crave-worthy.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                you can get certified hand-harvested white earth reservation wild rice in bulk at the co-ops as TDQ says-- and it's the cheapest way to get the real stuff-- around $9-$10 a pound retail, i believe.

                              2. re: RedPepper

                                True wild rice is a bit of a "gourmet" food, and the packages will say that they've been hand-harvested. But yes, both Lund's and Byerly's do have it.

                                A number of places offer wild rice dishes (e.g., cream of wild rice soup, wild rice pilaf) but if you're eating it in a restaurant you are most likely eating the commercial variety.

                                1. re: KTFoley

                                  KTFoley is right, you do have to be careful that, in restaurants, you know whether you've ordered the hand-harvested variety. Hell's Kitchen, for instance, uses the "native" harvested, hand parched stuff--that's what you're looking for.


                                  I'm pretty sure that Cafe Minnesota (at the MN history center) is also using the hand-harvested variety.

                                  One of my great joys when visiting Itaska State Park (where the headwaters of the Mississippi River are) for the first time was seeing wild ducks feasting on the wild rice in the lake. The lodge at Itaska serves the hand-harvested wild rice, too, but that's a bit out of your way if you're visiting only the Twin Cities.


                                2. re: RedPepper

                                  >> This is really interesting. Do you know anywhere that serves "real" wild rice? And do they sell it in local stores?

                                  My very favorite "real" wild rice is the hand-harvested wild rice from Native Harvest. It's mind-blowingly good! I used to buy it from a booth at the Midtown Global Market, but that booth is now closed (sob!). Luckily, the rice is still available locally at the Wedge Co-op.

                                  I don't know any restaurant that serves local hand-harvested wild rice, but perhaps the "local food" places might have it on their fall and winter menus (Heartland, Spoonriver, Alma, Lucia's, etc.)

                                  It really is worth buying hand-harvested rice. It's like the difference between commercial supermarket bread and a fresh artisan loaf!


                                  Wedge Community Co-Op
                                  2105 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                                    I talked to the Birchberry gal at the Fair today (she has a booth in heritage square. We stopped by there, as well as by the Watkins booth to get some black pepper and some vanilla extract)--she said that it was just too hard to keep the stall at Midtown Global Market staffed for such long hours every day. She expects that they will have a booth at Midtown Global Market during the holiday season, though. In the meantime, you can find them at the Mill City Farmers Market. She says she's on the waiting list for the St. Paul Market and seemed to have some expectation that she'll start appearing there after Labor Day because they're opening up some new spots or something ( I didn't quite understand that last part, only, that it sounded promising that she'll be at the St. Paul Farmers Market soon.)

                                    Also, the two restaurants in the Twin Cities that I know use the hand-harvested wild rice are Hell's Kitchen and Cafe Minnesota in the MN History Center.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Here's a photo of the wild rice porridge from Hell's Kitchen's outpost in Duluth: http://www.chowhound.com/photos/65303 (This same dish is also on the menu at the original HK location in Minneapolis.) I have to warn you though, as delicious as this dish is, it's incredibly rich. You might want to dial down and get a cup of the soup instead. That leaves room for you to try their famous peanut butter, lemon ricotta pancakes, and toasted bison sausage bread.

                                      The Dakota in Minneapolis also sources locally, including maple syrup, lake trout and such, and I read that their wild rice is the hand-harvested kind, but I that fact specifically noted on their menu: http://www.dakotacooks.com/pages/the_...

                                      The reason the commercially cultivate wild rice is black is that it's gas- dried, which apparently turns it black. The hand harvested stuff is dried over fire, which turns it a variety of colors, as well as imparts some flavor. The hand-harvested stuff is incredibly labor intensive.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Aren't the Native Harvest people also at Mill City?

                                        1. re: Loren3

                                          Yes, there is a Birchberry booth at Mill City Farmer's market, as I mentioned a couple of posts above: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43614...

                                          She's expecting to have a booth at Midtown Global Market "for the holidays" and is on some kind of waiting list for the St. Paul Farmer's market, which she is hopeful will yield results very soon.


                                  2. re: KTFoley

                                    The good (and alas, expensive...although a little goes a long way) wild rice is lighter colored, a grey instead of black. The black stuff sold as wild rice in most other parts of the country should not be purchased if at all possible. I never liked the stuff until I moved here and learned the difference.

                            2. unique to Mn? Think Walleye. Also we have an incredibly large number of outstanding Vietnamese restaurants.

                              1. If you can make it to the Mill City farmers market on Saturday morning, or the Nicollet Mall farmers market on Thursday during the day, do try some cheese curds. While not strictly a Minnesota delicacy - they are common in Wisconsin and in Upstate New York - really fresh locally made curds can be quite the treat.

                                1. Some traditional Minnesotan (and therefore Minneapolitan) specialties are hotdishes (very common home-style food in Minnesota), lutefisk (generally eaten only around Christmas by those of Norwegian lineage), and walleye (due to the large number of lakes and popularity of fishing).

                                  Hotdishes, despite being very common homemade fare, are extremely difficult to find in restaurants. I have yet to see one on a menu, and would be very surprised if I did. Best place to find a hot dish (which, contrary to popular belief, comes in countless varieties other than tater-tot) is a church potluck.

                                  Lutefisk is similarly difficult to find on a restaurant menu. Generally, it's only served around Christmas. I've seen churches around here in Duluth (a couple hours north of Minneapolis) have "Lutefisk dinners".

                                  Walleye, on the other hand, can be found at most standard American restaurants in Minnesota. You'll have to rely on others in this thread to give you recommendations for it, because I'm not a walleye fan.

                                  If you have 3 days in the Cities, you might want to try Somali, Hmong, or Kurdish food, the first rare and the latter two very difficult to find in the U.S. outside of the area. For Hmong, I recommend the (Hmong) International Market's food court, located at 217 Como Ave. in St. Paul across from some recreation fields (St. Paul is just across the river from Minneapolis). For Somali, there are numerous restaurants along Lake Ave. (not the best neighborhood), but very accommodating to non-Somalis is Safari Restaurant on 1424 Nicollet Ave. And as for Kurdish, one of the only such restaurants in the country is Babani's on 544 St. Peter St. also in St. Paul.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: tvdxer

                                    Its a shame that some of these staple dishes are easily available.

                                    sorry I meant are "NOT"! ha.

                                    1. re: jonlabo

                                      ? It's a shame that they ARE (or did you mean ARE NOT) available? Nevertheless, they are available. Lutefisk is seasonal (it's like asking where you can get yulelog in the middle of summer) but you can get it frozen at Ingebretsen's or their outpost in Midtown Global Market, Cafe Finspang if you wanted to take it with you. You can also get lefse at Cafe Finspang. Wild rice dishes are quite common if you're on the lookout for them--the most "famous" being the porridge at Hell's Kitchen. I also like the "loon omelet" that has wild rice in it at Key's Cafe--they'll usually give you a little side of housemade rhubarb jelly to go with your toast, too. Walleye is a lot of places, too, like Tavern on Grand in St. Paul. As far as hotdish, it's like asking where you can get a peanut butter sandwich. It's something you have at home, not at a restaurant. If you went to a restaurant and served pasta that had been baked with ground beef and Campbell's mushroom soup, topped with potato chips, I'm guessing you wouldn't think of that as a great value. But, you can find hotdish on menus in the Twin Cities, upscale versions, it's just that they are more likely to be called casseroles. It's not really the season, though, and one thing that's seriously different in the Midwest than in SF where you have a much longer growing season and a more temperate climate: we live and die by the seasons and we're not craving hotdish when we're having fresh from our garden tomatoes. Nevertheless, there's one place that always has hotdish and that's Pearson's Restaurant in Edina. Most people wouldn't consider it a "chowish" choice...because, again, it's food you'd eat in your home...

                                      I talk in this thread about the restaurants that serve the other Minnesota specialties. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40219...

                                      Here's a link to the discussion of the Hmong Market that tvdxer references) and the food court therein (with a long discussion of where to find it because it's hard to find and, later on in the threads, photos) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/318303


                                    2. re: tvdxer

                                      While driving by Aesop's Table the other day I saw tater-tot hot dish on the specials board outside.

                                    3. believe it or not, my lovely wife had a tater tot hot dish at the Big 10 bar and grill in Hopkins.....against my nudges btw, i mean, who orders a tater tot cassarole at a restaurant? lol. well, i've been here in mpls for 2 yrs now and still can't find a defining dish on MN. cheesesteaks in philly, pork roll in NJ, hot dogs in chitown, lobsters in maine, i could go on a long time here, but what the heck is MN known for...hot dishes? cripe is that all?

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: buenosds

                                        Not hot dish, but honeycrisp apples (when in season), wild rice, walleye, lake trout, lake salmon, smoked whitefish, herring, herring roe, smelt, lefse, lutefisk, rhubarb dishes (when in season), Southeast Asian cuisine, Pearson's salted nut rolls, jucy lucy (cheese stuffed burgers), hot dago sandwiches, cheese curds--fresh and deep fried, sausages, egg coffee, not to mention all of the locally-crafted artisanal cheeses, ice creams, beer (Surly's getting huge buzz, and then there's Summit and Grain Belt etc.) and meats and fresh produce, when in season. Almost all of which are mentioned in the link I provided in my last post. The state muffin (yeah, we have one), is "blueberry" and there is nothing finer than a Minnesota blueberry, when in season.

                                        Oh, and caramel rolls the size of your head. Again, I like the ones at Key's--the locals all eat them with a pat of butter. Go figure.

                                        P.S. this is a clear sign that winter is upon us if it's not so sweltering hot that the idea of hotdish was not a complete turn-off for your wife. Fall is almost here and it makes me want to cry--not because I don't like fall--I do, but it will be short and then winter will be upon us.


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          every one of the thing you listed I could get in either NY or Wisc.....still no defining MN dish!

                                          1. re: buenosds

                                            The jucy lucy was invented in Minneapolis at either Matt's Bar or the 5-8 club. The University of Minnesota invented the honeycrisp apple. Surly Beer is almost impossible to get outside of MN, if you read Dara's column from a couple of weeks ago. Grain Belt is brewed here as is Summit. Pearson's salted nutrolls are made just off of West 7th in St. Paul. If you're finding these in New York, I'd say some PR folks here in MN are doing darn fine marketing jobs.

                                            My apologies that we share the largest freshwater lake (by area) in the world with Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada, but we do get to count it as being unique to those places. But, you're right, some of these things are unique to the upper Midwest in general, because we share many things including climate, Lake Superior, and some immigration patterns.

                                            But, the OP is coming from San Francisco.

                                            The bundt cake was invented in Minnesota. And (sorry) so was Spam.

                                            EDIT: They don't have hotdish in Wisconsin?

                                            EDIT (again): By the way, I agree with you that there's no "defining" dish, but there's plenty that's unique here in the Twin Cities and Minnesota/the upper midwest in general. If you asked people outside of MN they'd probably mention lefse and lutefisk.


                                            1. re: buenosds

                                              As TDQ mentioned, the Jucy Lucy is our answer to Coney Dogs in Detroit, Phillies, Weck in Buffalo etc. Doesn't apply to the whole state but it does belong to South Minneapolis.

                                              1. re: buenosds

                                                You can get Philly cheese steaks, or hot dogs, or Buffalo hot wings or anything else in NYC or Wisc or anywhere else in the country. That doesn't make them less their own. I agree with TDQ - there are many things MN is known for. Except that Jello seems to be fading from the local cultural consciousness.

                                                1. re: Loren3

                                                  But I've yet to have a decent Philly cheese steak anywhere in the midwest. Know of any to be had?

                                                  1. re: clepro

                                                    No one seems to know. But, the question has now been asked three times in less than a month. Maybe some smart restauranteur will finally get the hint that we need one and put one on his or her menu.




                                                    1. re: clepro

                                                      The best I've had in the Midwest were at the cheese steak booth at the MN State Fair. Go figure.

                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Oh, and how could I forget the official MN State mushroom: the morel (delicious when in season, which is spring, not late summer, alas.)

                                                  In fact, we were the first state to have an official state mushroom--fancy that, we are at the forefront of fungus acknowledgement. But, I just discovered that state fruit is the aforementioned honeycrisp apple and the state drink is...milk! Naturally. And, of course, the state grain is wild rice--but, everyone knows that already.



                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    And the state muffin is ... blueberry!

                                              2. I think the walleye sandwich at tavern on grand in st. paul is worth a shot. nice crust, lightly fried, defines mn in the summer. you can have your walleye prepared many ways, upscale or otherwise, but this is the most commonly minnesotan, a friday fish fry style, tartar sauce, on a bun.

                                                Tavern on Grand
                                                656 Grand Ave
                                                St Paul, MN 55105-3402
                                                Phone: (651) 228-9030

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: mitch cumstein

                                                  My favorite "regular" (ie outside of Lent) fish fry in the Twin Cities (not that I've tried them all or even significant number of them) is at the Groveland Tap in St. Paul. Sadly, though, it's not walleye. It's whitefish in a Leinenkugel batter. Yum. And, it's AYCE, too, though, the serving they initially bring you is usually enough, unless you feel the need to order one more piece of fish "just because you can."

                                                  EDIT: and I'm sure that I'm committing some kind of heresy by saying while walleye is perfectly fine, it doesn't really rock my world. It is indeed local (although, what you find in restaurants isn't), if it's something you really want to try because you are the kind of person who wants to try all the things you've never tried before when you go to a new place (which is what I like to do), but, don't be disappointed if you go, hmmm, a basic white fish. My favorite preparation of walleye to-date is sadly, not in the Twin Cities, but about an hour and 10 minutes North of the Twin Cities at Fishers'. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/435270


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I think there's a reason why restaurant walleye doesn't impress -- it's missing most of what makes Minnesota walleye matter.

                                                    Walleye is a game fish. People who describe a Minnesota tradition of eating walleye have in mind those that they've gone out and caught themselves. If not for that, walleye wouldn't be nearly as significant as it is. Witness how the Fishing Opener is observed with the same reverence as the Easter Vigil (not to mention, a more regular attendance throughout it's liturgical season!)

                                                    The "fishing" aspect so outweighs the "eating" aspect that it can be taken for granted that (1) walleye on one's plate means more if it got there via one's hook; (2) catch-and-release is good, good, good even though the walleye on the hook never ends up on the plate; (3) even if one catches nothing at all, a day fishing for walleye is still a good day.

                                                    Perhaps the family fishing tradition in the land of 10,000 lakes isn't really central to the chow discussion, but it is key to understanding why people give it so much prominence as the quintessential Minnesota food.

                                                    1. re: KTFoley

                                                      I think you are 100% correct. Although walleye is truly a fish that isn't widely available in, say, San Francisco, where the OP is coming from. So, yes, it's on the Minnesotan consciousness because of the game aspect (I've never caught a walleye, not even to release, I don't think --but I have caught panfish like sunnies and crappies), but it always makes these "what's special about the chow in MN" threads because it is a fish reasonably unique to Northern climates. I just don't want him to be disappointed because he was expecting the most delicious, unique tasting fish ever.

                                                      And, if anyone wants to dispute how important fishing is in this culture, they can go try to get a good viewing spot at the fish pool outside the DNR building at the State Fair this weekend and see if they can get an elbow in! HA!

                                                      Here's a recent thread about panfish. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/415574


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        I will not be dissapointed!

                                                        I grew up fishing off the north coast of Long Island, so I grasp the "what I catch tastes better" concept. I am also at home chowing on a boney whitefish (sounds similar to the East Coast Porgy or Humpback). I look forward trying the Walleye.

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Kind of like how tomatoes in season from the farmer's market are really good, but tomatoes from your own garden are sooooo much better, for a bunch of different reasons. Yes?

                                                          1. re: KTFoley

                                                            Yes, especially if you paired those homegrown tomatoes with fresh, hand-pulled mozzarella you bought at Jakeeno's in Midtown Global Market and some fresh basil and nice olive oil you got at, say, Cossetta's in downtown St. Paul or at Buon Giorno in Lilydale. (Seriously, folks, it doesn't get better than this.)

                                                            But, it's even one step more for a visitor from out of the area and that is, if you came from a place where they had plenty of lovely summer vegetables, but no tomatoes, growing in their yards or on restaurant menus, you'd want to try them!


                                                  2. Am I right in thinking that the name, “hotdish”, is what’s unique to Minnesota rather then the food itself? I find it kind of hard to believe that people don’t eat the same basic thing in other parts of the country and just call it a casserole or something. Is there something special about the way we make it here?

                                                    Or as we ask on Passover, “Why is this Hotdish different from all other Hotdishes”?

                                                    Uncle Ira

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Uncle Ira

                                                      Yes and no. If a San Franciscan asked you what you were going to bring to a potluck and you replied hotdish, they would expect you to show up with something hot--maybe chili or mac and cheese or spaghetti or lasagna. If you wanted them to imagine what a Minnesotan would call "hotdish", you'd have to reply that you're bringing casserole. However, in spite of the fact that they've heard of casserole, to a Californian, tuna casserole is something mom made in the 70's--it's not really part of the basic fabric of everyday living as it is here. I think that the extreme cold of winter here makes folks crave the rib-sticking comfort food that hotdish is.

                                                      Another good place to check for hotdish or casseroles in the Twin Cities is in the prepared food sections of Lund's or Byerly's (upscale grocery stores.) They have lutefisk in their freezers, usually, too.


                                                    2. Another thing I would be looking for is decent frozen custard joint, which is non-existent in SF. Suggestions?

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: jonlabo

                                                        My favorite Frozen Custard would be Liberty (and not just because it's by my house). It's a fun place, they have a bunch of old timey penny arcade type games and you can take a nice walk by Minnehaha Creek while you are there. Here's an article about it. http://www.citypages.com/databank/26/... Don't bother with the hotdogs or sandwiches there (IMHO
                                                        )BTW -the street it's on is pronounced Nick-ah-let.

                                                        There is also a Midwest chain called Culver's that's pretty good.

                                                        Liberty Frozen Custard
                                                        5401 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419

                                                        1. re: jonlabo

                                                          Or, for a nice walk on Lake Minnetonka, head out to Excelsior for Adele's Frozen Custard. It's a summer stand near the lakeshore that has some very nice flavors.

                                                          Adele's Frozen Custard [DUPLICATE]
                                                          800 Excelsior Blvd, Excelsior, MN 55331

                                                        2. I would highly recommend two restaurants that were mentioned in the link from a prior discussion: Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis and Heartland in St. Paul. Both really focus on local ingredients and the cooking is superb in both places. True Minnesota fare put together with great care and passion. You won't go wrong with either. Try them both if you have time.

                                                          1. These are not delicacies, nor are they anything that would make Minneapolis famous, but for some reason you find in so many places:

                                                            Mock duck is huge in this area, and not just at Chinese restos. Lots of places have it. Mock duck pizza for example. I don't get it.

                                                            Also, artichoke dip - you absolutely cannot find a resto that doesn't have it on their apps menu. The nicer places will call it a ramekin and fancy up the description, but it's still just artichoke dip.

                                                            1. Me again. Another place I would try for local foods expertly put together is Corner Table at 4257 Nicollet Ave South in Minneapolis. The menu is small, everything is fresh and expertly put together. The place is small and quiet. We've really liked it every time we've gone. We're due for another visit, I think.

                                                              1. Tater Tot Hot Dish -- St. Paul Winter Carnival recipe: http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/myfox/...