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Apr 16, 2008 07:57 AM

MSP-Ethnic near Downtown Minneapolis

Where is a good spot within a quick drive of downtown? I've been going to Jasmine Deli but am looking to branch out.

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  1. Up Central there are good Indian and Middle Eastern places. I particularly like Holy Land, but I know there are mixed reviews.

    Up Nicollet I recommend Quang, Pho Tau Bay and Peninsula.

    If you can make it all the way to Lake, I recommend La Taqueria la Hacienda, Tacqueria Los Ocampos and Pineda Tacos.

    1. I second churchka's recommendations, and add these:

      - Solera (Spanish)

      - Vincent (French)

      - Kramarczuk's (Polish/Ukrainian)

      - Punch (Italian/Neapolitan-style pizza)

      - Bombay 2 Deli (Indian)

      - Safari (Somali/Middle-Eastern)

      - Christo's (Greek/Cypriot)

      For more ideas, see tvdxer's list of restaurants with "less common" cuisine:

      Bon Appetit!

      P.S. Here are Places links for addresses and info.

      Vincent A Restaurant
      1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      Punch Neapolitan Pizza
      210 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

      Bombay 2 Deli [Closed - May Reopen in Different Place
      ]1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

      900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      Christos Greek Restaurant
      2632 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

      Safari Restaurant
      1410 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      Kramarczuk Sausage Co
      215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

      1 Reply
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        And here are the Places links for churchka's reqs.

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

        Holy Land Bakery & Grocery
        2513 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

        Pho Tau Bay
        2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

        Taqueria Los Ocampo
        417 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

        Taqueria La Hacienda
        334 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

        Pineda Taco's
        311 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

        Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine
        2608 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

      2. Drive over to Stadium Village on Washington.

        Village Wok for the Wor Mein or Iron Hot whatever (forget the appetizers).
        Hong Kong Noodle for sausage fun with XO sauce and a bunch of other good stuff
        Korea Restaurant
        Bona for Vietnamese

        1 Reply
        1. re: JimGrinsfelder

          One more for Stadium Village:

          Caspian Bistro (Persian) at Washington & University - and there's a parking lot in the back!

          Oh, and there's also a branch of the Jasmine family of restaurants: Jasmine Orchid.


          Jasmine Orchid
          304 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Hong Kong Noodle
          901 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Village Wok
          610 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Caspian Bistro
          2418 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Bona Vietnamese Restaurant
          815 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Korea Restaurant
          211 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

        2. Way too many to mention so I will post a choice reviews off our blog... Here's Quang (Vietnamese)

          Quang Restaurant
          2719 Nicollet Ave
          Minneapolis, MN 55408

          Category: Vietnamese

          Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
          Food: 8
          Service: 7
          Ambience: 5

          Recommendation: Very Good. This Eat Street favorite serves up great Pho soup…and a whole host of other tasty authentic dishes.

          No other Vietnamese place in the Twin Cities gets talked about as much as Quang…and for good reason. This sparsely decorated restaurant is always bustling and if you go there during normal lunch or dinner hours, be prepared to wait. The good news is that the restaurant is quite large, the food comes out of the kitchen in a hurry, and the servers are always running to clear tables and keep patrons moving. The crowd is diverse and you see as many Asians as Americans, which is usually a good sign at any ethnic restaurant.

          The menu is authentic and diverse but there are a few things on there that are favorites with us. The Pho (noodle soup) is the specialty here and we have tried both the beef and the chicken phos. The soup consists of a flavorful clear broth, served with rice noodles and meat (you have some options here). The servers bring a side of jalapeno peppers, sprouts, lime wedge, and Thai basil that you can add to your soup. We add all of these in plenty because it adds to the flavor and texture of the dish. The traditional way to eat this soup is with the chopsticks in one had and a soup spoon in the other – once you get the hang of it, you’ll have fun. The Spring Rolls are served with a hoisin sauce and have a very light and fresh flavor. Try the Lemongrass Chicken which is nicely flavored for the American palate. The Iced Coffee, made traditionally with Chicory Coffee and sweetened condensed milk is nice and strong. Quang’s also serves Vietnamese Sandwiches, which are real popular for takeout.

          $. Entrees are under $10.

          Update (April 9, 2008) – A coworker who was really interested in trying Quang convinced us to visit for a weekday lunch. The restaurant was busy as usual and although we were seated quickly, it took a few minutes for a server to notice us. We decided to skip the Pho this time and focus our attention on some other dishes. We ordered both the Spring Rolls as well as the Egg Rolls and both were excellent – the former has subtle flavors with a chewy texture while the latter was hot and crispy (try them both and compare). I also thought highly of Quang’s Original Pork Chop platter – the meat had a nice char quality but wasn’t dry. If you’ve never had the Vietnamese Sandwich, you’re in for a wonderful surprise…think Parisian baguette packed with Asian ingredients and flavors. The Chicken Sandwich was served on a crispy French bread with pate, mayo, chicken and some veggies – it’s a staple in Vietnam. To accompany the meal we ordered a couple of Bubble teas – both the Hazelnut and Strawberry teas were awesome…I especially love the chewy texture of the tapioca balls and sucking them through the large straw! Once we ordered the food, service was quick and conscientious. We paid about $12 per person for quite a bit of food.

          1. And Nalapak...our favorite Indian restaurant. Its a little further away (10-15 minutes up Central Ave)

            Nalapak (formerly Udupi Cafe)
            4920 Central Avenue
            Columbia Heights MN 55421

            Category: Indian (South Indian/Vegetarian/Vegan


            Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
            Food: 8
            Service: 7
            Ambience: 6

            Recommendation: Very Good…South Indian comfort food and a haven for vegetarians/vegans. This restaurant is one of our favorites in the Indian food category.

            Nalapak (formerly Udupi) serves delicious South Indian food, which is a rarity in Minneapolis (most Indian restaurants here cater to the North Indian palate with their naans, chicken curry, and tandoori meats). The buffet is a steal for around $10 and allows you to try different dishes without having to order off the menu. Although the restaurant itself is nice from the inside (tiled floor, fireplace, popular Hindi music in the background), the location (on Central Avenue by I-694) is not ideal and the windows have blinds on them, so you can’t look outside.

            The buffet has a changing mix of curries, soups, fried veggies (pakoras), and lentils but when here, you must try the Idli (fluffy white patty made with rice and lentils), Dosai (pan fried crêpes stuffed with spicy potatoes and onions), and Vada (deep fried savory donut made with lentils and spices). All are served with Sambar (broth made with lentils and vegetables), Coconut Chutney, and a spicy Tomato Chutney. If you do the buffet, the servers will bring fresh dosais directly to your table. They also serve drinks like the Mango Lassi, which is excellent. Desserts are the usual fare you find at most Indian restaurants (Gulab Jamun, Rice Kheer, etc). Try their appetizer, Chat Papri (Crisp flour cookie sprinkled with chickpeas & marinated with Indian spices & sauces). This appetizer is commonly available in street corners in India and is a local favorite.

            $. Reservations are typically not required as they have plenty of seating capacity.

            Update (February 20, 2008) – Another fabulous experience at Nalapak. We went for dinner and it looks like the restaurant is going through a very positive image overhaul. Our meal was served in simple white square plates that were very classy, especially for an Indian restaurant. Servers were attentive and the food was brought out quickly…we actually felt rushed because the courses came out in quick succession and the next course was on top of us before we had finished the earlier one. The Punjabi Khana Thali (combination dinner $17) came with one Samosa, Tomato Soup, one drink, Chole Bhatura, and one Gulab Jamun for dessert. Chole Bhatura is a traditional North Indian dish made of spicy chickpeas and served with a fried bread called Bhatura. The Chole were very flavorful but the Bhature was not very authentic. It didn’t have the dense chewy texture we are used it. The Gulab Jamun was one of the best we’ve had in the Twin Cities. We really liked the Sweet Lassi drink (a traditional drink made of thin yogurt and spices) – if you haven’t tried it before, it’s a must. The Masala Dosai – rice crepe filled with potatoes and onions ($7.49) was excellent. The crepe had magnificent texture with crispy edges and soft center, and the filling was delicious. The accompanying Sambar and Coconut Chutney did not disappoint.