Well, I'll kick things off. If you're ever in Apple Valley/Lakeville, Ronin Sushi Cafe is very much worth a visit. The highlights there are actually the noodle dishes -- the Drunken Noodles have pretty much taken the south metro chow circles (ha ha) by storm and other dishes are excellent. I haven't had a chance to explore the sushi yet. It's in the same complex as Penzey's on the SW corner of Cedar Ave and County Road 46.
Agree about the service. Good Happy Hour pricing but snobby staff. Dinner was spotty, food-wise, with about half of our group of 8 enjoying their entree and the other half being pretty disappointed. Been there a few times for Happy Hour, once for dinner. I doubt we'll go back outside of the Happy Hour hours.
Now that this thread has been bumped...
I love the idea of this challenge, but have been racking my tiny brain since January to think of a place I could review. Since I get *all* my restaurant info from chowhound, I haven't been to any place that I haven't seen here first. (My latest happy experience was at Pak Zam Zam - I adored the chana dhal and I bless this board for alerting me to this wonderful dish.)
I'm still thinking... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Aha - got one!
Dave's Popcorn on E. 38th Street.
Dave's is an old-style neighborhood snack shop, where kids can walk up after school for ice cream, pop, candy, hot dogs, and, of course, popcorn. We went on a late fall day to sample the corn - we had both caramel and cheese popcorn.
The popcorn was good - though not as good as Chicago's Garrett's Popcorn (but it's hard to match Garrett's). Our popcorn was made in advance, so they lose a point for that. But I'll bet if you hit them on a busy summer evening, it would be fresh. And they gain major points for old-timey charm.
They're closed for the winter, but they open in May. So check out Dave's Popcorn this summer!
Since my original post, I've been to Ronin several times and have enjoyed the sushi as well. It's not up to the level of my standards (Bagu, Origami Downtown) but it's a notch above typical suburban sushi. This place is a real asset to the south metro.
Pardon My French in Eagan, for which I started a thread, is like a giant south metro version of Patrick's Bakery in Edina. Another nice-to-have down here.
Ansari's, an Eagan Mediterranean place started by some family members of the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe (also in Eagan), was a major disappointment. The only reason I would go back is because I'm a sucker, and to fill the void when MCC closes its Eagan place to move to Burnsville (happening soon).
Barrio has already been mentioned -- I enjoyed my initial visit there. The black beans that came with the Oaxaca-style ribs were outstanding. Same with initials at Porter & Frye. Like La Belle Vie, The Strip Club, Heartland and some other places, it's equally appealing (and more economical for those that care) to sit in the lounge/at the bar and enjoy a nosh and some cocktails as it is to do the full meal deal.
Giuseppe's in Burnsville is a very tiny pasta place in an old Subway tucked behind Blue Max Liquors. Our initial visit, the pastas were fine, but seemed like anything we could cook out of our many home cook books. Since then, they've stepped up their game. It's not I Nonni, nor do they make the pasta in-house, but they make for a good meal, definitely better than an Olive Garden outing. If you live down there, it's worth a visit.
Legacy Chocolates in St. Paul has added a whole bunch of chocolate bar-type items and continue to add new truffle flavors. Not new to this board, but a reminder to go back.
Not open yet, but I'm curious about Kings, a new "coffee, wine, food" place that is being built across the street from Cafe Ena on 46th. Anyone know anything about this place????