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Jun 23, 2008 02:49 PM

Playing Tourist at Home [MSP]

A planned trip fell through this weekend (steam train to Milwaukee, but the tracks are still under 40" of water). Instead of moping, we decided to play tourists at home. Forget museums, lakes, and parks - to us, this means FOOD!

We focused on places that we've never tried before, and did quite well, food-wise. Plus, our cats were pleased that they still got fed at their usual times.

Here's what we tried:

- Korea House. I can't believe that I've never been here before! (I live a mile away.) But I'll be back often. Good cellophane noodles with beef and vegetables (lunch special #3). I can't wait to try the grilled mackerel and other fish dishes.

- Bangkok Thai Deli. WOW! (Reported here: .)

- Rotisseria. DOUBLE WOW! (Reported here: .)

- Scandia Cafe in Scandia, MN. On the way to our replacement train trip (Osceola to Marine-on-St-Croix), we stopped at this cute small-down diner. Tasty turkey dinner, but the gravy was too salty and the stuffing was boring. (Carol's in Blaine is much better.) But it was worth the drive for their strawberry pie.

- Smalley's in Stillwater. Good stuff, especially the jerk chicken and the blackberry mojito. (Reported here: .)

- Izzy's - We went twice :-). The first time, had blueberry ice cream (yum!) with a lemon custard izzy. The next day, we tried to use a 2-for-1 gelato coupon at a Grand Ave coffee house that doesn't have gelato any more. We were so sad that only Izzy's could comfort us. I had kalamansi sorbet (tart & unusual) with a coconut izzy (their coconut isn't my favorite, but it went well with the yummy sorbet).

Other places I'd go to if I were playing tourist again:

- Midtown Global Market (of course)
- El Mercado Central and/or a Lake Street taqueria
- Mill City Market (for those spice mini doughnuts) or St. Paul Farmer's Market
- A casual/upscale board favorite, like 112 Eatery, Saffron, Ngon, Bon Xai, or Birchwood
- Heartland Wine Bar
- A University Ave Pho joint (but I go to these places all the time...)

Where would other locals go to play (food) tourist in MSP?


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  1. You pay for it now, with changed menu and wonderful cook, maybe too much, but I go to W.A. Frost when I want an in-town vacation fix. Beautiful patio in summer/fall, beuatiful old building in winter/spring.

    1. I know - how about some places links?

      Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe
      2034 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

      Korea Restaurant
      211 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

      1532 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN

      Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque
      423 Main Street S, Stillwater, MN

      Bangkok Thai Deli & Supermarket
      315 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

      1. I had friends in town last week and I showed off 112 and Colossal Cafe to them. We also happened to have drinks at the outdoor patio at Chambers since they were staying there. I wanted to bring them over to the Nook for a Jucy Lucy (or whatever they're called over there), but we ended up joining up with another group in town and went to the Nicollet Island Inn. I always assumed that the food there would be stuffy and boring but it was absolutely fantastic. I had a roasted beet salad and the salmon nicoise entree.

        One of my friends had been in town previously and requested that we go back to Kramarczuk’s but no one else felt like that heavy food since it was so warm out.

        1. Funny question, because, when I'm a tourist in other places, I always want to try to "eat like a local"--so, if I'm a tourist in my own town, does that mean I want to try to eat like myself?

          Anyway, I'm assuming I'd take a couple of weekdays off and would try to get to all those places that are hard for me to get to during the week (Russian Tea House!) or that I've been meaning to get to, but haven't made it to (Manana!) plus line up a bunch of leisurely breakfasts (Hell's Kitchen, Al's, stealing Kate's suggestion Colossal Cafe, Carol's and Maria's--wow, that's five, so it looks like I'm going to have to take a full week off) and the Strip Club at an off-hour because soupkitten recommends it.

          And, I'd lounge for a leisurely lunch at Sea Salt (even though I do that a fair amount anyway)...

          One day I'd have to head over to Tea House II.

          And, I'd have to pack in a bunch of ice cream stops, Izzy's, Liberty Frozen Custard, Pumphouse to try that Rogue Chocolate flavor, Conny's cream cone just because (I'd pair that with a stop at Los Ocampo--I've never been to that one on that side of town), oh, and a leisurely mid-afternoon coffee at Kopplin's one day.

          For dinners I think I'd do Saffron, 112 Eatery, the Dari-ette on the way to a triple feature at the drive-in movie, Ngon Bistro, and maybe head to Stillwater to check out Smalley's. Hmmmm...that's five dinners, so I wouldn't have room to squeeze in La Belle Vie or Chambers or Cosmos or something like that, but maybe even though I have 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches and 5 mid-day treats, I could still allow myself a 6th dinner.