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Nov 11, 2007 04:31 PM

[MSP] Twin Cities dishes featuring whole grains?

Any recommendations for Twin Cities--especially St. Paul-- restaurants that feature whole grains in their dishes?

~Whole wheat pasta?
~Brown rice?

Dishes/restaurants that occur to me:

Tanpopo, St. Paul--buckwheat (soba) noodles
Bravo!, St. Paul--rice plates with brown rice as an option
Craftsman--offers whole wheat pasta
Highland/Longfellow--buckwheat pancakes
Whole foods--brown rice sushi to go
Byerly's--brown rice sushi to go

Also, any restaurants that routinely feature sweet potatoes?

Any other recommendations?

Thank you!


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  1. (FYI, TDQ, couscous isn't a grain -- it's actually semolina pasta.)

    Edited to add: I didn't call out specific dishes because several of these places have menus that have undoubtedly changed since my last visit, and others (Birchwood, Common Roots) have whole-grain offerings, like deli salads, that change daily. But they're all on my go-to list for whole-grain goodness. :)

    Hmmm, I can come up with lots more off the top of my head in Minneapolis:
    Cafe Brenda
    Common Roots
    French Meadow
    Seward Cafe
    Tao Natural Foods

    In St. Paul:
    Trotter's Cafe
    and . . . um . . . there's a Good Earth in Roseville . . .

    Birchwood Cafe
    3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

    750 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    Cafe Brenda
    300 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    Trotter's Cafe & Bakery
    232 Cleveland Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

    Seward Community Cafe
    2129 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

    Common Roots Cafe
    2558 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

    2409 Lyndale Ave S Ste 4, Minneapolis, MN 55405

    Tao Natural Foods & Books Health
    2200 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

    Good Earth Restaurant
    1901 Highway 36 W, Saint Paul, MN 55113

    French Meadow Bakery & Cafe
    2610 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

    7 Replies
    1. re: mcgeary

      Great list of places I'd forgotten and places I've not been to yet, thank you. For Tao Natural foods--do you mean the cafe or more for takeout?

      EDIT: by the way, what's Ecopolitan like? Any good? I went to a restaurant in SF called, unimaginatively, "Raw" and hated it. I wanted to love it, but I just didn't. Is the food at Ecopolitan any good? (It's the raw food place, right?)

      P.S. I confess I'm not a big consumer of couscous, so, thanks for the info. I wonder why it always appears on the "whole grains" lists--perhaps it's minimally processed? Ah, wikipedia to the rescue:


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Somewhat on-topic: Have you heard of the book "The 12 Best Foods Cookbook" (or something similar). My wife got it at Patina and it is by far our favorite (next to Joys of course). Lots of recipes with sweet potatoes, whole grains, beans, almonds, blueberries, etc.

        We have been to Ecopolitan several times as our vegetarian friends swear by it and recommend it often. But in all honesty, as non-vegetarians who don't restrict our diets in any way, we've found the food is generally very bland, though with good fresh recognizable flavors. But at the end of the day, we are never satisfied.

        1. re: Foureyes137

          Patina is an unlikely place for a chowish recommendation, but I'll have to pop in and look for that cookbook. Sounds perfect.

          Thanks for the feedback on Ecopolitan...


        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          whole wheat couscous is really commonly available, and since it doesn't affect the cooking time of the pasta at all, it's one of the biggest whole-grain no-brainers i can think of-- that said, i also can't think of any restaurants around that use it!

          oh and don't forget the wholesome porriage at hell's kitchen!

          1. re: soupkitten

            Ah, yes, wild rice should be on my list, too!

            Couscous just hasn't been on my radar until now. I don't know why.


          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            I've been to Ecopolitan a number of times and I LOVE it. I'm not vegetarian, although I love well-prepared veggies as much as I love a grass-fed t-bone. In particular, I really enjoyed the "burrito" and the "pasta" with marinara. The veggies always have lots of flavor and I always feel "clean" when I leave. I admit, however, that it's been a hard sell with some of my non-foodie friends who are just looking for a burger and fries.

            1. re: jennywinker

              It's been eon's since I've ordered it, but I 2nd the green burrito.. it was fabulous. Last time I went I ordered the pizzas. They were interesting, but I felt a bit strung out by how salty they were about 1/4 of the way through. Really wanted to finish it (I am a notorious member of the clean plate club), but could not. I've sampled that strawberry pasta in the past, and also thought it was lovely.

        3. Does Teff count? If so, you've got Fasika - the Ethiopian joint on Snelling..

          Also- I haven't been here for maybe 8 years, but it used to be kitschy-fun:

          There's a sweet potato something at Khyber Pass, isn't there?

          7 Replies
          1. re: reannd

            Harry's Bar has that beets side dish which includes farro, which is spelt- whole
            berries cooked like wheat berries. And FireLake has a whole grain risotto that
            includes kamut, also a maple-glazed yam & apple side dish, whole wheat lavash
            bread on at least one sandwich.

            1. re: faith

              Thank you! I always wondered what farro was-- bought some at Whole Foods in St. Paul the other day.


            2. re: reannd

              Hmmmm...I didn't see a sweet potato dish on Khyber Pass' online menu...but they do have a "rotating" special of butternut squash (not a whole grain, I know...but something that's nice to see on a menu when you 're trying to eat healthy, nevertheless...) They do have several dishes with brown rice, I see.

              Day by Day is a surprise. It's been a year or two since I've been there--and only for breakfast-- but I'll have to go back!

              I don't know about teff--will have to investigate!

              Thanks for the tips!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Ah.. it must have been squash that I saw on the plate.. but it was a while back. It seemed much more interesting than just 'garlic', so those 'family spices' must be the secret ;)

                As for Teff - Wikipedia makes it seem super good for you ( so you should give it a go. Do you eat African food much? It's one of my favorites because you get to eat w.your hands and it's mostly just spiced up beans. Looks so boring, but tastes soo good! Berberre sauce is insanely tasty (as well as one of the longest list of ingredients in a sauce I have ever seen

              2. re: reannd

                Coincidentally, I was at Day by Day yesterday for breakfast. I didn't think that they particularly leaned toward whole grains, although they do offer whole wheat and multigrain bread, and brown rice with some dishes. That said, I don't think the 2 eggs, multigrain toast (2 slices - buttered), ham and hashbrowns did any favors for my blood sugar level. But yum!

                1. re: jennywinker

                  I was trying to figure out the Day by Day reference too - but then I remembered they have pretty yummy buckwheat pancakes, especially if you add pecans and blueberries.

                  Buckwheat is a whole grain, right?

                  1. re: diesel

                    Yep, and they offer brown rice, too. I know it was a stretch, but at least they're trying a little..

              3. I'm so curious - I understand wanting to incorporate more whole grains into your diet, but why the desire for more sweet potatoes (not that there's anything wrong with sweet potatoes)? :)

                Moose and Sadie's has a really nice steel cut oatmeal with fruit and nuts for breakfast.

                5 Replies
                1. re: katebauer

                  Oh, oatmeal is a good addition to the list. I'll have to check out Moose and Sadie's. RE: sweet potatoes--it tends to be a better choice (over regular potatoes) for people who are concerned about keeping their blood sugar more constant...

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Got it - so you're going for low GI foods.

                    1. re: katebauer

                      For the most part, yes, but mostly what I'm looking for is places where the "starch" on my plate isn't going to be white rice, white bread, white potatoes...I'm looking for more fiber and, as you say, foods that are low GI.

                      Wild rice, as soupkitten, mentions above is another one I should add to my list of "wholes grains," too!


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        k I know I said the ethiopian thing already, but if you are looking to feel good after eating, the only place I feel awesome 100% of the time after eating are

                        1) blue nile (i only order the veggie and lamb dishes as a gosa gosa platter, though)
                        2) spoonriver (may be because their food is lite OR their drinks are phenomenal)
                        3) most of the time, tanpopo (but i do *not* order tempura anything)

                        I would say birchwood, but we inevitably end up getting dessert and coffee, which leaves me feeling unpleasantly over-full!

                        1. re: reannd

                          One of these days, I'll have to make it over to Spoonriver. I've popped in a couple of times to peek at the space and the menu, but have never actually dined there.


                2. As mentioned above, Birchwood is a good choice. They always have oatmeal or multi-grain porridge on the breakfast menu. Both are wonderful. And they always have at least one whole-grain salad for lunch and dinner.

                  Bravo Bakery lets you choose brown rice instead of white rice with their vegetarian stir-fry dishes. Oh, wait - you already said that! I'll add a places link.

                  Al's Breakfast has buckwheat pancakes on the menu.

                  As for sweet potatoes, I think the Highland Cafe / Longfellow Grill / Edina Grill trio serves them as roasted fries. Not necessarily healthy, but tasty!

                  And - not a restaurant, but - Rustica makes a glorious multigrain bread.


                  Al's Breakfast
                  413 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                  Highland Grill
                  771 Cleveland Ave S, Saint Paul, MN 55116

                  Rustica Bakery
                  816 W 46th St, Minneapolis, MN 55419

                  Longfellow Grill
                  2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                  Bravo Bakery
                  1106 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

                  Edina Grill
                  5028 France Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    I'm so glad to find another reason to go to Al's! Hurray--thank you for letting me know about their buckwheat pancakes. I've not noticed them before.

                    Edit: P.S. I do love those sweet potato fries at the Highland/Longfellow/Edina grill--at least they aren't fried in hydrogenated fat. They were better when they were wedges, though...


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I don't know if I was there on an off night but the sweet potato fries at the Longfellow Grill were awful when I was there a few months ago. They were soft and mushy, not crispy at all. Really disappointing.

                      1. re: katebauer

                        That's the thing--I don't think they were ever crispy, it's just when they were wedges, they weren't as limp. But, now that they are cut into "fries" there isn't enough sweet potato there to hold a shape. That's my theory anyway.


                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        And for the record, Al's offers a choice of buttermilk or whole wheat batter for
                        their blueberry pancakes.Also, at Ecopolitan, get the borscht if they ever have
                        it, and the young coconut shakes- you can sit at the counter and watch a
                        woman hack open your very own young coconut with a machete, then scoop out
                        the meat (young coconut meat is spoonable, not hardened yet, easier to digest
                        and delicious) and blend the delicious 'milk' with the meat for an amazing treat.
                        I also love their macadamia alfredo with raw zucchini ' noodles'.

                    2. I've had a really nice wheatberry, goat-cheese, and broccoli salad with olive oil at Cafe Latte on Grand. Always look for that again, but seldom find. They do however, usually have some type of offerings that include whole grains.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jeanmt

                        I wonder if I can go into Cafe Latte and NOT order the German chocolate cake? :)