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Aug 29, 2007 08:56 AM

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 ( Another good version is at the 5-8 Club and a slightly upscale version can be found at Buster's on 28th ( 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" (


      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:

                      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's also a colder water "fresh water" fish, which is a good 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.


                          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: (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:

                                      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:

                                          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.