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MPLS - Another visit, specific questions

WildSwede Jun 3, 2008 09:51 AM

We will be spending 2 days in MPLS - July 1 & 2 before I have to return home. We will be attending a Twins game on July 1. My brother is craving Sushi (has not had it since he moved to Hayward, WI 5 years ago) and Pho and I want to treat him to his first Ethiopian experience. We will have a car.
I understand by looking at past posts that the food in the Metrodome leaves a lot to be desired. However, I have to ask - do they sell cheese curds? This is one of the things I cannot get enough of when visiting the midwest!
- Where do they have the best cheese curds in MPLS?
- Eat Street has several restaurants and am leaning towards one of the Pho places there... or Saigon in St. Paul. Suggestions?
- Breakfast - we are debating between Al's and Hell's Kitchen - I understand that Al's has great pancakes and eggs benedict (my fave). Do you think we should just stick with Al's?
- Ethiopian - Where do they have the best fried fish and vegetarian sampler plate? Also, do they have the mitmita (their spicy chili powder) on the table (or is it at least accessible)? Also, are they open for lunch?
- Sushi - we are not sushi gourmands, but would definitely like decent sushi. Are there any good places that won't break the bank? And that are somewhat inventive with their items?
I am not sure where we should stay given that outlined above (if anyone wants to help, I would gladly (and appreciatively!) accept any assistance at eklundlatyahoodotcom). Preferably something under (as far under as possible) $100. We are not picky as long as the sheets are clean and we can shower without cockroaches! Thanks!

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  1. The Dairy Queen Jun 3, 2008 10:01 AM

    I have a question out to my Metrodome expert, so, I'll report back on that shortly. "Best" cheese curds is a matter of taste, but for ironic cheese curds in a bit of an upscale setting, try Town Talk Diner on Lake Street in Minneapolis.

    For a great St. Paul experience, try the cheese curds (as well as one of their soft serve cones) at Conny's Creamy Cone in St. Paul.

    I think pho on Eat Street would be an outstanding choice--Pho Tau Bay, as I said before, is my favorite pho place in Minneapolis. I prefer Saigon (they have great bahn mi sandwiches made to order, too) on University Avenue in St. Paul, but I do have a bit of a St. Paul bias in general.

    Al's and HK are both great--you can't do both???? Al's is a 14-seat counter. If there are only two of you, that would be my (personal) choice, if there are more than 2 of you, then HK.

    Have fun!

    ~TDQ

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      The Dairy Queen Jun 3, 2008 10:19 AM

      Per my resident Metrodome expert: There is a stand outside by gate H that has them. Check your email.

      ~TDQ

    2. c
      churchka Jun 3, 2008 10:16 AM

      For Pho, I'd go with Pho Tau Bay or Quang on Eat Street. They are my favorites, and most people's I think. But Siagon is good too.

      Al's and Hell's Kitchen are two completely different experiences. The food is good at both, but the atmoshpere and style are really different. I prefer Hell's Kitchen on a weekday, but I don't like huge crowds.

      A cheaper sushi place that I like is Midori's Floating World Cafe. There have been some service issues in the past, but I hear they have been fixed. It is a small place with a lot of charm and some great sushi. I'd say we save about $5 when we go there vs. other sushi places. Not a huge savings, but it is something. See the sushi threads for more info on the other places.

      Ethiopian, it is generally said by my friends in the Ethiopian community that Fasika on Snelling is the best. I've really enjoyed it everytime I have gone. But I don't know about your specific questions except that they are open for lunch.

      1 Reply
      1. re: churchka
        s
        snoboardbabe77 Jun 3, 2008 10:27 AM

        I agree with TDQ. If you want cheese curds, head over to Connie's Creamy Cone off Dale and Maryland -- and add on a chocolate shake while you're at it. She only takes cash (keeps the prices low) so take note.

        As for breakfast-either Al's or Hell's Kitchen, but since eggs benny is also my favorite breakfast/brunch meal-I would suggest (possibly too much for a St Paul trip)...the eggs benny at Bon Vie off Selby. I've eaten ALOT of eggs benny around the Twin Cities area-and if you're looking for the real deal-fresh hollandaise, true lemony scent, large toasted english muffin, etc. - this is the place to go (they have other solid breakfast choices as well). I stand by Bon Vie as the better choice for the benny-I mean, I normally wouldn't pay $10.95 for it without a side of potato if I wasn't serious about how good it is.

        I can't say much about any pho places. I'm not a fan.

        Ethiopian - definitely Fasika off Snelling in St Paul. On the right, heading North--great variety but again, not sure about the spice you are asking about.

      2. Foureyes137 Jun 3, 2008 10:47 AM

        You can get great cheesecurds and a far better baseball experience at Midway Stadium watching the St Paul Saint's. Cheaper beer, cheaper tickets, better vibe, and get this...they play outside!

        The best curds are at the State Fair (which stand is an ongoing debate) but you'll have to come back for those. I'm not a fan of the TTD's curds personally but people love them. I like the curds @ Red Stag.

        I will second Pho Tau Bay or Quang and add Pho79 simply because it is open late and is very good, though not as good as Quang's. All on Eat Street.

        For breakfast, you'll have to wait for a table at both, the nice thing with HK is that you can walk over to the Local and have a bloody while you wait as they give you a buzzer. Al's is traditional where HK is more fun with the menu if you weren't already aware. Great food at both.

        Koyi has good sushi (not great) but is definitely in your budget. The fish is fresh, they just do not have the variety that Origami or Nami will have. If you aren't drinking, you could conceivably keep the tab under $100 at those two places sitting at the bar.

        With those suggestions in mind, you'd likely want to stay downtown. I know that the Holiday Inn on Washington in Seven Corners is under $100 a night as is the Raddison in Stadium Village.

        1. MSPD Jun 3, 2008 11:00 AM

          I'll leave Ethiopian and pho to the others. Most everything else is easily accessible close to the Dome. Town Talk Diner has excellent cheese curds. More highbrow than the State Fair but no less tasty.

          For Sushi, Origami is a short distance from the Dome up Washington Avenue. They are inventive and you never have to break the bank for sushi since you can order anything a la carte.

          As you can read on here, Al's and Hell's Kitchen are vastly different. Al's is very straightforward. I enjoy the hollandaise there. If you like holes in the wall, Al's is a must-stop.

          Personally, I have great luck in any city with Priceline. In MSP, plug $75, 4-stars, and downtown in the "name your own price" and you'll be staying in a high-end place (not the Ivy, Chambers, 601 Graves, etc. but the next step down).

          1. s
            soupkitten Jun 3, 2008 11:28 AM

            i defer to the others' expertise on best cheese curds

            i am personally also a fan of quang for pho when dining on eat street. pho tau bay, pho79, and jasmine(not mentioned yet i think) are also favorite pho places on eat street. for a higher-end, bistro vibe, ngon bistro (also on university) has many fans, myself among them.

            al's is an immortal, ageless american diner. great food, fun experience, not a place to visit in large groups, or on saturday, or a place that allows you to linger over coffee (they need your stool for the guy standing 1/2 foot behind you. hell's is a fun and creative breakfast place, broader menu including lunch items, where your party will be able to sit facing each other and get dessert after your meal. it will be more expensive than al's. i love both places for different reasons and only you can decide which place will suit your needs!

            i'll chime in on fasika-- a good bet for lunch, food is always excellent. service can be. . . leisurely, but always friendly. i have loved all of the vegetarian items i have tried and they also do a great job with lamb. haven't ordered fish there.

            for sushi, midori's is a fine rec. also if you are trying to keep it on the cheaper side, try obento-ya on como-- you can stick to sushi or flesh out the meal with bento boxes. cute place, & i've eaten a ton of sushi there for under $20/person.

            1. drew13000 Jun 3, 2008 01:20 PM

              I love cheese curds and my favorites are at Psycho Suzi's (beer-battered) and Town Talk (also beer-battered, but more gourmet). But you know what they say about cheese curds. Even when they're bad, they're good!

              1. k
                KristinT013 Jun 7, 2008 06:02 AM

                I definitely agree with the others about Fasika. We often get their veggie platter as takeout and it is delicious.

                I can't weigh in on the breakfast debate, as I haven't actually been to Al's (shocker!). Just a note about Hell's Kitchen (which I love)-- they take reservations and last time we called they said they were booked 2 weeks out. You can also just show up and get on a list, but the wait can be LONG. So, if you decide for sure you will be going there, I would recommend calling for a reservation.

                5 Replies
                1. re: KristinT013
                  cheeseguysgirl Jun 8, 2008 09:00 PM

                  Are they booked out on the weekends, or all week long? I've never found much of a wait during the week, but it's heinous on the weekends.

                  1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                    s
                    soupkitten Jun 9, 2008 09:49 AM

                    agree w CGG. hell's is fine on weekdays. if wishing to dine for breakfast/brunch on the weekend i'd suggest getting there as early as possible in the a.m. and/or reservations. saturdays & sundays the atrocious lines at hell's are exactly as Kristin describes. of course, al's will be the same on sat/sun, but al's does not take reservations. i heartily rec going to both of these establishments during the weekdays, if at all possible. the weekend wait can make people angry right up until they receive their food, & then they forget quickly. . .

                  2. re: KristinT013
                    WildSwede Jun 9, 2008 09:43 AM

                    Thank you all!
                    We will be in town on a Tues/Weds so hopefully the waits won't be too long. If we get in early enough, we will go to Al's for breakfast, then on to the Mall of America (my bro wants to see it more than I do) then some Sushi in the downtown area (still deciding where) then the Twins Game. Will have Pho and Ethiopian on Weds. Stop at Trader Joes so my brother can pick up some of the items he misses and that is about it until he drops me off at the airport. Thank you all for your help!! We truly appreciate it!!
                    One quick question - the Pho places in the Eat Street: do you know what time they open on weekdays?
                    Also, can someone please explain/describe a Juicy Lucy for me.
                    THANK YOU AGAIN!! Best!!

                    1. re: WildSwede
                      The Dairy Queen Jun 9, 2008 09:48 AM

                      A jucy lucy is a cheese-stuffed hamburger. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jucy_lucy My favorite is at the Nook on Hamline at Randolph in St. Paul. Their fries are handcut and the burgers are fresh from the bakery down the street PJ Murphys. The Lodge burger at the Nook is good, too. The Nook is kind of a St. Paul institution.

                      Many credit Matt's Bar in Minneapolis with inventing the Jucy Lucy, but, I confess, I don't love it as much as the one at the Nook.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        The Dairy Queen Jun 9, 2008 09:50 AM

                        Also in St. Paul, I like the "cajun lucy" at the Groveland Tap (on St. Clair, a couple of blocks west of Snelling.) They also have pretty decent cheese curds and "frickles" (deep fried pickles...) and great beer-battered all you can eat fish on Fridays.

                        ~TDQ

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