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Oct 25, 2008 06:33 PM

Minneapolis Cheap and Fun Foodie Food???

We want to get my sister and her family a gift certificate for the holidays for an inexpensive, but fabulous foodie food place in Minneapolis. They have two worldly eater children (9 yrs and 13yrs) and are adventurous. Ethnic is fine. Dim Sum? Breakfasts?
We're not familiar with Minneapolis and any input is gratefully appreciated.

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  1. You could get her a gift card for Barbary FIg for some fun foods to take home...if you are thinking breakfasts you could think about sending her to two different places-like cash to go to AL's Breakfast, and then a gift card to a place with a nice brunch. (Meritage? I've never been there, but I've heard it's very good)

    9 Replies
    1. re: jenniegirl

      jennie--you never made it to Meritage? I thought you were going for your hubby's bday! Where did you end up instead?


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        DQ-I am still planning to take him....we had a very small wedding with ten people on his birthday in August (we planned to get married in October, but I had an accident, and spend two months in a rehab recovering...)we had planned to not live together before marriage, so he wrote me a song, and asked me to marry him when I got out of the rehab, so I would have someone to take care of me. Anyway, the Birchwood cafe (where we always drink iced coffee and play backgammon!) made a wonderful wedding brunch for us, all set and ready to go. (Including this wonderful turtle cake which we are still dreaming about!) We were their special customers I guess! So, we just had our reception with the dress and the hooopla this last week on a champagne boat ride out of Stillwater. I'm on crutches, but was able to dance at my wedding! So it's been busy...but we'll still go to Meritage! I remember how you said it was so good!! So after that long message, I would tell anyone to go to the Birchwood. We ordered several cakes from there for our Groom's dinner- a turtle one and a carrot one-which I didn't get any of either! They went that quick!

        1. re: jenniegirl

          jfood is a big fan of the food and the owners of Meritage as well. Well worth it.

      2. re: jenniegirl

        Just a point of clarification to jennie's first post: i THINK she meant to say Golden Fig, which is a local specialty food shot located on grand avenue (at grotto). i HIGHLY recommend a gift certificate there - you didnt say if your sister was new to the twin cities or not, but the golden fig carries an excellent selection of locally made cheeses, meat goodies, chocolates and canned/jarred things (last time we were there we picked up some walnut banana butter, it looked like cinnamon snot and tasted like heaven).

        the barbary fig is a north african restaurant also on grand ave, not too far away. i havent been in a long time as i wasn't ever terribly impressed, as much as i, and numerous other chowhounds, want to like this owner-operated place it never seemed to have the polish and value i wanted to see there.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          I did mean to say Golden Fig--I think that would be a wonderful place to get a gift card. They are so wonderful, it's a fun place to visit, and I had some great cupcakes there the last time I went-lemon and raspberry.
          I went to Barbary Fig once, and it was OK, but I don't think I would take kids there.

          1. re: jenniegirl

            the cupcakes are from miel y leche, and are delivered every friday.

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              Am I the only person on the planet who doesn't get all the hubbub about her cupcakes? I mean, they are pretty, don't get me wrong, but for the price I was expecting much more. The cupcakes aren't that big and there isn't a lot of filling in them. And frankly, some of them just aren't that good. Maybe I just don't do the whole vegan thing very well. I do think the raspberry lemonade ones are the best though, so you did well on that score.

              1. re: Seige

                No, you're not alone. Several of us have noted that they don't live up to the hype. I find them on the small side and too dry. The cupcakes from Cupcake are much better, in my opinion.

                1. re: Seige

                  No. I got red velvet from her once - special request - and they were pretty bad. Dry, waxy, flavorless, and small. And for $36 for the dozen, expensive. I have made better from the box. The owner was kind enough to email me, after reading a comment of mine on these board, to offer some way to make it up, but I didn't take her up on it.

        2. Does it have to be Minneapolis or anywhere in the metro? If the metro works, I'd suggest Little Szechuan in St. Paul. Very reasonablely priced, adventurous food if you want it - more "Minnesotan" Szechuan if you don't, and I have NEVER had a bad meal there. Seriously, never. You can check out their menu here -

          1. Oh, if only the Midtown Global Market had gift certificates! It would be perfect - it's fun, adventurous, food-centered, multi-ethnic, and reasonably cheap. (You could easily feed a hungry family of four for $50 - $75.) I don't think they've figured out a way to offer gift certificates for the dozens of vendors. But maybe you could send one of those Visa-type cash cards for them to use at the MGM?


            Or perhaps some of the places on Eat Street (Nicollet Ave.) have gift certificates - such as Peninsula (Malaysian), Quang (Vietnamese), and Black Forest (German). The family could have a great meal at one place, then stroll down Eat Street and visit the ethnic grocers along the street.


            Al's Breakfast is a great idea, but the logistics might be hard for a group of four (not impossible, though). There would be wait to eat together - there's only 13 seats at a counter. However, they have something similar to a gift certificate - Al's sells a booklet of coupons for regulars. Not sure if you could organize it over the phone, though - they're rather a seat-of-the-pants kind of place. If you decide to try, call during off-hours (10am, perhaps, or right before they close at 2pm).

            For more ideas, check out this thread on "the cheap fancy-pants food challenge":


            Note: Double-check with us if you choose a place from this list, as some have closed and a few others have gone downhill since 2006.


            P.S. to JennieGirl - your proposal and wedding story is so romantic! It made me feel all mushy and teary-eyed. Congrats and best wishes!

            Midtown Global Market
            920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              op-- the "cheap fancy-pants" thread linked by Anne is a really good place to start-- you can get your sis a certificate for a place that is closest to their home, or sounds most like their style

            2. I'd echo the Birchwood rec in a heartbeat.

              Assuming St. Paul is OK too:

              Also echo the Golden Fig, Birchwood and Little Szechuan recs.

              Meritage is very good but I wouldn't consider it inexpensive (as the OP requested).

              Also consider Tanpopo - Well-executed Japanese fare, mostly noodles, very reasonably priced, casual. And you can get gift certs online!

              Tanpopo Noodle Shop
              367 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

              1 Reply
              1. re: diesel

                The first two spots that came to my mind were The Birchwood and Tanpopo.

              2. I can't say enough good things about Gangchen, 1833 Nicollet Ave S. They call themselves a Tibetan restaurant but they really have all kinds of Aisan food. I love the cranberry curry puffs and the red curry. Everyone i've taken to Gangchen has loved this place and it's very reasonably priced. Great happy hours specials too.