summer trip to Minneapolis
My BFF and I are planning a long-overdue "girls weekend" this summer and chose Minneapolis for our rendez-vous. (I'm on the Atlantic, she's on the Pacific - we decided to split the difference!)
Looking for suggestions of places to eat while we're there. Nothing too fancy, but GOOD food appreciated...any type... what are the "best ofs" that we shouldn't miss.
And, OT, if anyone wants to suggest the perfect hotel or hotel location, we'll take advice....seems like staying along Nicollet Mall makes sense in terms of access to everything, including good food, but will it be too noisy????
We won't be renting a car, so everything needs to be downtown or easily accessible by public transportation (if that's an option there).
Drinks at Brit's on the patio are a must, especially if it's a nice summer day.
Dinner suggestions: Barrio is great and on Nicollet Mall. You could also walk to Cafe Lurcat which is in Loring Park. I prefer to eat in the bar area and their small plates are delicious (get the burgers, fries and miso cod). Another option is 112 Eatery where you can have an expensive dinner or a fried egg sandwich.
Nicollet Mall is not too noisy, so you'd be fine in one of the hotels along it (Hyatt, Millenium) but a few of the nicer hotels (the Ivy or the Grand) are just off Nicollet Mall and still centrally located - I would definitely recommend one of them for a girls weekend.
Brunch on Sunday could be at Key's or Hell's Kitchen. Some people are mixed on their reviews of Hell's Kitchen, but I've had great experiences there.
I would also recommend doing the Mill City Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. You can pick up an amazing breakfast sandwich at one of the stands and pop into the Guthrie free of charge - go up the escalator and walk out on the endless bridge - a great view of the river.
Have a fun weekend!
Great deals on hotels right now. Depending on your budget; Chambers, Graves, Ivy, and the W are all downtown/theater district and you can score rooms from 150-200 per night right now. If your budget is less than that: The Crown, Hyatt, Hilton, Ramada and Marriot are also downtown and VERY affordable right now.
112 Eatery. Don't miss it, it will fit just about any bill.
Public transportation in and around the city center is very convenient and relatively easy. I recommend a trip a few blocks south down Nicollet (Eat Street) for lunch one day ($1.75 bus fare, save your transfer if you come back downtown within 2.5 hours). The Twin Cities is lucky to have terrific Vietnamese, and it is hard to beat Quang, Jasmine/Jasmine 26 and Pho Tau Bay (roast pork bahn mi and a bowl of pho). Hit these up one day for lunch. Start with a cocktail at Azia, also on Nicollet.
I'll defer to others for more ideas...but definitely hit some of the rooftops while in town..our favorite is Solera. Cheers.
I agree. If you're DT - have a drink at Brit's Pub, it's fun, low key and great people watching. If you're into scotch eggs, well you're in luck because that's where they're at!
I personally am NOT a Hell's Kitchen fan but lots of locals like it so go check it out and decide for yourself - their menu is online and there is something for everyone. I'd probably take the bus over to Nicollet Island Inn on a Saturday (Sun. is a $30 5 course deal), but I've always been pleased and the view is great.
Also, since you're not renting a car-might I suggest taking the 17 bus to Uptown. It is right there on Nicollet Mall and you can then explore say, Barbette which is fun for late night drinks and eats, or Lucia's for breakfast. Plus, you can walk around the lakes if you're feeling adventurous.
Alma in combination with the Stone Arch Bridge is a nice idea. But late diners should note this important fact: The Stone Arch Bridge closes (yes, CLOSES) at 10 pm. It's a city park and thus is subject to park hours. We've had park employees chase us off the bridge (albeit slowly and politely) when we've been strolling after our dinner at Alma's.
You can walk back to downtown via the Hennepin Ave Bridge, but it's longer and a bit less scenic.
528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Hey, we live right there and didn't know that - thanks for the heads up!
NOW, something you should not miss is the colored lighting of the new I35W bridge at night, which is readily viewed from a lot of spots along the river in the Mill District (Guthrie, etc). Fairly awesome!
And just to be accurate, the Hennepin bridge is "a bridge too far". The closer bridge to get back from Alma after 10 is the 3rd Ave bridge.
And just to make my post legit, there's a great Greek restaurant, there's Brasa (roast meats - run by Alma owner) and there's a Polish deli (think it's Polish) all on the Alma side of the river, but north of Central (which is 3rd Ave on the other side of the bridge.
I did a hunt for best of downtown Minneapolis but the search function leaves so much to be desired.
Atlantic and Pacific coasts are a little vague so I have no idea which foods and cuisines you have in abundance. I’m guessing that you have seafood covered and except for our two places in the parks (Tin Fish http://www.thetinfish.net/ and Sea Salt http://seasalteatery.wordpress.com/ ) there’s little to recommend. Sea salt is a short walk from the light rail. http://www.metrotransit.org/rail/ and Tin Fish is a two block walk from the 17 bus that runs on Nicollet Mall. http://www.metrotransit.org/
Anyway, here are a few discussions on Minneapolis food.
“If you had just a few months left in Minnesota, where/what would you want to eat on a farewell tour? Your top five, please...” http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604322
“Best Indian food-Downtown Minneapolis” http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/603658
“MSP, downtown, three days....” http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/433569
“A month in Minneapolis - need advice” http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/520157
If you have questions about anyplace, just ask. A couple of these threads have far flung places but contain downtown Minneapolis spots as well. Since those discussions are amongst locals and have no reference to location it will take some Googling to sort out what is where.
Hope you have fun and lots of great chow.
You're all so helpful (that Midwest friendliness???)... These suggestions sound terrific (but don't let that stop anyone else from adding two more cents). We will start to research. Sounds like we could pretty much eat our way through the weekend if we want.
Neither of us is really a big drinker, but we'll take those suggestions under advisement.
In answer to Mary: I'm in CT but originally from NJ. With NYC just a quick train ride away, there isn't much we can't get in the way of food types. This was more of a "what's best" question, rather than a quest for something we can't get here. My friend used to live here in CT but moved back to CA. Originally from SoCal, she's living outside Sacramento these days. I have absolutely no idea what she's eating (haven't been able to visit)!
We both love Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. so it looks like we'll try some of those suggestions for sure. And seafood availability aside, the idea to go to the falls and then eat at Sea Salt sounds like fun.
Keep those great suggestions coming....we're going to pick the best of the best!
Some places are very easy to get to from downtown via bus.
Take the 18 bus (catch on Nicollet) and hit eat street. Of if it is nice you can walk. It is Nicollet Ave South of Downtown. Try Safari for Somali, Peninsula for Malaysian, or Black Forrest for German. Also in the area is Azia, a very hipster cool kind of place with decent food and excellent but spendy drinks.
Out of Downtown you can catch the 24 bus to Maria's for breakfast. It is Columbian and has the best corn pancakes in the world. Get it with the cheese on top.
The 17 bus, which also is caught on Nicollet Mall, will bring you to Uptown. The "hippest place around." Get off at the Uptown Transit Station (you can't miss it) and you will be in the heart of hip places with mediocore food. A standout, for the view, is Stella's. It is a fish place, so not so impressive for those from the coast, but it has a rooftop deck with awesome views. Also in Uptown are a variety of bad Thai places (stay away), a good diner called the Uptown Diner, and lots of shopping and bars. A fun place to go after dinner some night.
From the Light Rail you can go down to Minnehaha Park and check out the Sea Salt Eatery. They have their fish flown in every day and do great po boys. They offer local beer and a view that can't be beat. It is in the park pavillion of one the most famous MN Landmarks: Minnehaha Falls. There is a famous Longfellow poem about the area, though he never visited, called The Song of Hiawatha. It is a fun park with the falls as a many attraction. But also there are often people drumming to traditional Native beats, lots of history, and bike rentals.
Churchka's suggestions and tips are great. I have a few notes and additions:
The Safari Restaurant on Nicollet Ave. is closed. (Wah!) They still have a booth at the Midtown Global Market (see below) called Safari Express.
Uptown has a few good places scattered amongst the mediocre food: Lucia (a small "three-plex" of fancy restaurant, wine bar, and bakery/take-out), Barbette (hipster French), Delites of India (decent veg-only Indian; newly reopened), and Namaste (Nepali & Indian) - at least, I've heard it's good - I haven't been here yet.
Expect major lines at the Sea Salt Eatery if the weather is nice. To avoid the worst lines and long delays for the food, go at off hours.
My suggestions are just seconds of those above
- Definitely go to the Mill City Farmer's Market, plus the Guthrie's endless bridge and the wonderful Stone Arch Bridge. Check out the ruins below Mill City Museum, too.
- Go to the lakes in Uptown for food and great scenery. You can rent a canoe at Lake Calhoun, then paddle under the bridge to tour Lake of the Isles. Me, I'd get a picnic at Lucia's Bakery, then take it to an island. You said you're not big drinkers, but note that if you want wine or beer, there's a "no open bottle" law in Minneapolis; it's not aggressively enforced if you're discrete (brown-bag it, and use the plastic glasses from your hotel).
- 112 Eatery is great! I'd say it's a must. I also love Saffron for upscale Middle Eastern food - it's right across the street from 112 Eatery.
- If it's pouring rain, you could go to the Midtown Global Market (take the #5 bus from 8th & Nicollet) to stay dry while sampling some good examples of our local ethnic food - great Mexican, Caribbean, Somali (Safari), and Middle Eastern (no Vietnamese or Thai, though). Plus it has one of the best bakeries in town: Salty Tart. But if I was just here for a weekend and the weather was nice, I probably wouldn't go here - I'd spend my time at the lakes or rivers or parks instead.
Have a great trip, and thanks for choosing the Twin Cities!
Midtown Global Market
920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Sea Salt Eatery
4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
123 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Mill City Farmer's Market
750 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55402
1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
2512 Hennepin Ave Ste 1, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Delights of India
1123 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Welcome to MSP! One hotel you may want to check out (other than the great suggestions already given) is the Marquette hotel--it's reasonable, nice, and very centrally located downtown. And don't worry about Nicollet Mall being noisy--it's not. Downtown, I second the recs for 112 Eatery, as others have mentioned (the food is great, and it's reasonable. Just be sure to make reservations). Drinks/apps on one of the rooftops (Brit's Pub or Solera) is also fun. I also like the bar and restuarant at Cosmos.
If you're just here for the weekend, you may want to limit your bus trips to other areas. Yes we have busses, but they're not all that convenient and it can take a while to get where you want to go if it's not a straight-shot route. Of the places mentioned already, I would second a trip to the Uptown lakes (if you want to hang out by the water and see another neighborhood) or Eat Street (if you're looking for a great variety of ethnic chow). They're both unique areas to the Twin Cities, and both would be short, easy bus rides from downtown.
I HIGHLY recommend going down to the Mill City Farmer's market on Saturday and spending time exploring the Guthrie, Mill City Museum, and river area. Take a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Main for some lemonade at one of the sidewalk/deck cafes and back. It's beautiful, and VERY Twin Cities. On a nice day, this walk--with great views of Minneapolis--can't be beat.
Pardon the interruption, folks, but in order to keep our forums narrowly focused on finding the best chow, we ask that you limit your discussion in this thread to restaurant and other food-related recommendations. Hotel recommendations are considered off-topic for our forums.
Adding the links for places mentioned in this thread, so HungryKids can research all these great suggestions. I hope you plan to eat non-stop, HK! :-)
80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402
528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
The Tin Fish
3000 E Calhoun Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Black Forest Inn
1 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Quang Pastry & Deli
2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment
1110 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Nicollet Island Inn
95 Merriam, Minneapolis, MN 55401
2550 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Stella's Fish Cafe
1402 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Pho Tau Bay
2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
1113 E Franklin Ave Ste 102, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Jasmine 26 Restaurant & Bar
8 East 26th Street, Minneapolis, MN
601 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55403
2548 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Keys Cafe & Bakery
821 Marquette Ave Ste 114, Minneapolis, MN 55402
925 Nicolett Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine
2608 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Solera is a fun place for a girls night... rooftop patio, small plates to share. I would also reccomend 112 eatery but make sure you book a reservation. I called last week and they were booked on weekends for 2 weeks out.
This is fabulous! Apparently we will be eating our way through Minneapolis (and I'm afraid to ask about St. Paul....) We'll have to remember to pack the antacids.
Thanks for all the terrific advice and the links. We'll be researching, reading, and re-reading as we plan our trip, which can't arrive soon enough!
Clearly we made a great choice when we decide to come visit your lovely city.
In the name of good chow, the automobile reigns in MSP and will greatly increase your options. As an alternative I'd consider renting a bicycle (see freewheel co-op). Minneapolis is one of the most bicycle friendly communities in the country despite frozen winters.
Breakfast day one: Lucia's in Uptown. Very simple. Long standing use of local farms etc.. Nice service. Magers and Quinn around the corner is the best independent bookseller in town.
Breakfast day two: Rustica bakery. Not technically a breakfast, but if you like real baked goods, it's the best in town. Breakfast at Al's is an alternate, but that's if you like quirky little places. For a more traditional plate of breakfast, Birchwood Cafe, counter service, very friendly sometimes slow vibe, always quality.
Dinner day one: Brasa in Northeast. Get there early or plan to wait a long time. Tie in a cocktail at Nye's Polynaise for some legendary glitter vinyl, the piano bar, and a look at the regions psychological core.
Dinner day two: Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls. Basic fish. Tap local beer. Beautiful oak canopied ambiance with the falls ionizing the air.
Lunch day one: Spoonriver next to the Mill City Farmer's Market, or Chef Shack at the market - the brainchild of two great culinary talents. Tour the Guthrie while you're in the neighborhood. Go up to the 9th floor and head towards the river to experience vertigo. The food at the Guthrie has been a weak point, but there's a new toque coming soon...
Lunch day two: If you like funky try Bryant Lake Bowl. Local food sourcing. Simple sometimes to a fault food, and bowl a few frames....
If you'd like to splurge, hit 112 Eatery (possible to eat quite economically) or Alma.
For a left field suggestion, The Lexington in St. Paul in Grand Avenue. The Lex makes it on to national lists of significant long standing dinner joints. It's very old school, and a bit of a time capsule. A true insight into the psyche of St. Paul circa 1970's.
Good luck. Nic Mall, Mary Tyler Moore hat tossing and all, has gone by the wayside.
I agree. Your best options are not downtown (with a few exceptions like 112 Eatery and Hells Kitchen.) Oh, and maybe Manny's if you want a traditional steakhouse (may be a bit pricey though.)
For that reason, I too would recommend a car, or, since you won't be here all that long, just figuring on doing a bit of strategic cabbing.
I would consider Cosmos, Chambers, 112 Eatery, Saffron, Porter & Frye and Vincent to be a good percentage of the top echelon of MSP dining and all are downtown. Cafe Lurcat is arguably "downtown". Many people would also put Solera and D'Amico Cucina in this list.
Add Masa, Barrio, Cafe Brenda, Sapor, Origami, Oceanaire (for some people)...I'm not quite ready to declare a rental car/cab a necessity for a weekend in downtown.
That said, I think keg put together a pretty good list -- I like the recs for Brasa, Lucia's, Rustica/Java Jack's (the adjoining coffee place) and Bryant-Lake bowl. Personally, I think a car is a good idea, not because you NEED one, but because you can get a good feel for the neighborhoods of MSP.
I guess if I wanted to send my wife on a 30-something girls' weekend (and I have), I'd say stay at the Graves 601 and make good use of Cosmos. Probably send them over to the Chambers and/or Porter & Frye for drinks and a nosh. If I just got my bonus, I'd send them to stay at the Hotel Ivy, taking advantage of some of the spa services and maybe a full dinner at Porter & Frye, although the atmosphere there is more conducive to quiet dates than fun girls' weekends. Breakfast at Lucia's followed by shopping in Uptown -- maybe lunch/walk around Lake Calhoun at Tin Fish or another Uptown place like Barbette. 112 Eatery would fit in there somewhere. The other night, we had a date night of casual dinner at the Birchwood, followed by a walk along the river. Then we went over to Sebastian Joe's to grab a cone and browsed through Patina next door. Total "chick night".
Personally I ride or drive in this town. I haven't used the bus since the mid eighties.
IMO the bus should be free, and parking should be ridiculously scarce and expensive. Then the city should build a light rail system, like the one we used to have. People will act in their own self interest.
Rain potentially rules. Inclement weather on a bus stop, no thanks.
Chow redirect: Kopplin's for a capp. at Ham Ran in St. Paul. Best coffee. Search the board for "Juicy Lucy". Available at various venues and is the indigenous form of hamburger - we seem to think we invented it. Walleye is praised here like manna - it's our local fish, and strangely it's not commercially fished, so all that State pride really goes to Canada. Also check out Heavy Table for some in depth journalism on the food scene.
Sea Salt comment made by another poster is correct. The service concept here can move at glacial speed. It is not worth the wait, unless you can be comfortable in the moment, and realize that you're there for the whole enchilada, not just the vittles.
If you were staying for a week, I would agree that a car would be best. But for a weekend? We're talking 6 meals at most, probably. You will find PLENTY to do, see, and eat within easy walking and bussing from downtown Minneapolis. I agree with MSPD that there are LOTS of great options downtown. Both keg's and MSPD's lists will get you some great chow. If you go to the Mill City Farmer's Market, please try food from the little white trailor at the end of the outdoor stalls, closest to the river. Their Indian spiced mini-donuts are to die for.
My wife (born in MN, educated at the U) returned to Mpls 2 years ago to retire. You have made a great choice, especially in the summer. If you can walk pretty well, you are even better off. If you are good bicyclists, the bike trails here are awesome.
Anyways, some food recommendations:
- La Belle Crepe (on Nicollet Mall): awesome crepes in a cramped space!
- Max's at Hotel Minneapolis: happy hour and flatbread pizza
- Chambers Kitchen: very cool, celebrity chef, neat artwork (see the small exhibit area too)
- Cafe Brenda: famous chef, vegetarian
- Dakota Club: cool jazz scene, dinner menu
- Basil in IDS tower: get the Mary Tyler Moore table if you can
- Manny's bar: awesome chopped salad, you could probably split it!
- Joe's Garage: Loring Park, eat on the roof, get a view of downtown skyscrapers
Slightly away from downtown:
- Jasmine 26: awesome Vietnamese (Jasmine Deli for lunch)
- La Belle Vie: pricey, but apparently worth it!
- Lucia: this place is great, research it!
After three long months of reading your responses and lurking on the Midwest board to read other MSP suggestions, I've finally arrived in your fine city! This morning I made a quick trip to St. Paul for business, then returned to MSP to meet my friend. We'll be having dinner at 112 Eatery per all of your suggestions, but we needed a light bite this afternoon to tide us over. La Belle Crepe (mentioned here and elsewhere) was right near our hotel, so we wandered in.
Today's options sounded yummy, and after some discussion we opted for the Turkey Club and the Ginger Chicken, figuring we would share both. We sat outside and waited patiently for our food. Before long the crepes arrived. To our surprise, the color of the crepes was darker than we would have expected, making us wonder if they could be whole wheat crepes....and sounding an alarm inside my head. I asked if the crepes contained buckwheat and, unfortunately, the response was that they were, in fact, buckwheat crepes.
It just so happens that I have a fatal allergy to buckwheat! (Yes, it's odd, I know.) We explained that I could not eat them. They offered to remake the crepes using the "sweet" recipe (the dessert crepes) which do not contain buckwheat. However, I confirmed that there was only one crepe griddle and, given the cross-contamination, I would not have been able to eat those, either.
No offer to refund part of our money was forthcoming so I kept my friend company while she ate some of the crepes. She was less than impressed with both.
Nowhere on the signs inside the shop did it say that the crepes were made out of buckwheat. It would never have occured to me to ask.... although when I lived in France I knew that the crepes in Brittany were traditionally made with buckwheat, the standard "crepe on the street" in Paris was not.
I do see that 112 Eatery serves soba (buckwheat) noodles, so I will be careful to ask them not to cross-contaminate my dinner (e.g. same boiling for pasta).
In case you wanted to take this further:
Have questions, comments, or just want to say hi?
Then please email email@example.com
Labelle Crepe has 2 locations in Downtown and Uptown:
Medical Arts Building
825 Nicollet Mall #100
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Aura - Calhoun Square
3001 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
I think a refund was in order. That was not "Minnesota Nice" at all!
I checked their site and other than "a taste of France through healthy fresh and delicious menu items" which does tangentially imply buckwheat, no mention of same.
Glad you checked before you took a bite. Better luck with all future meals.
re: MplsM ary
Wow - your message was "Minnesota Nice" even if you don't think the creperie handled it properly. Considering the cost involved ($13 for the two crepes combined) we didn't bother to press the point. Not worth the time or trouble!
But I am incredibly impressed by YOUR response!
You didn't miss much. After hearing a few positive reviews I went a few weeks ago and thought it was awful. My crepe was soggy, bland and $7.00. I had asked for no whipped cream but it was still slathered all over it. When I complained, she did not offer to remake it and I ended up trying to scrape it off. The employee sat and talked on her cell phone the entire time (raining outside so had to eat at the counter) and somehow I felt like I was violating her privacy. I will be happy to never return. Hope the rest of your MSP travels are better!
jfood has been a somewhat constant visitor to MSP and can give you some of his favorites:
1 - Alma - jfood's favorite, the chef is brilliant and the menu changes fairly regularly.
2 - 112 Eatery - Other than jfood's last unfortunate visit this is jfood's second favorite place. The foi gras meatballs are great, baby lamb chops super, even the burger (assuming your server remembers to input into the POS) is remarkable.
3 - Meritage over in downtown St Paul - great place with great owners
4 - Strip Club Also over in St. Paul. An old speak-easy and the steaks are fantastic
5 - Corner Table - a little of the beaten path, but this is a nice small local place. Sitting at the bar and watching the cooking is a nice time
6 - Heartland - Jfood had a nice meal here a few months ago and it makes the list, but he would probably not place in the gotta try list.
112 Eatery: It would be passing strange not to eat here if you are staying downtown.
Eat street Vietnamese: Quang, Jasmine Deli, Jasmine 26, etc... You can pick your poison, but Vietnamese is a BIG part of the culinary landscape.
Be'Wiched: Outstanding sandwiches for the perfect lunch.
Bank: A gorgeous space for cocktails. Stick to the bar, though.
I would not recommend:
Sea Salt: Too many variables, from length of line, to weather, for a weekend trip.
Thai food: If you are coming from either coast, we have nothing that will impress you.
With eight days to go (and counting) before we arrive in MSP, we've taken all of your wonderful suggestions into account and made some plans. Brunch on Saturday at Hell's Kitchen (despite some naysayers it sounds like a must-try - plus brunch lets us split the time difference since one of us is on West Coast time and the other East Coast), then dinner Saturday night at 112 Eatery. Saturday afternoon we'll find a mid-afternoon light snack based on wherever we're sightseeing.
So we need to make a decision about Friday night dinner and we're debating between a not-so-expensive-but-still-delicious ethnic meal (Indian? Somali? Hmong? Vietnamese? Something else?) and the prix-fixe Chambers dinner that is about to disappear... which would you choose? And if you would choose the ethnic food dinner, which would be the consensus top choice?
Last, but not least, need to make a decision about Sunday brunch...
MSPers please weigh in. I've been reading along on all your other MSP posts for the last few months but can't make a decision!
And jfood, if you're listening, since you and I both frequented the same NJ haunts back in the day (e.g. Don's) and we seem to live somewhere near each other hear in Ffld Cty, I'd love to get your input...your earlier post on this thread was helpful!
(oh...one more thing...we decided to skip the rental car and we're staying downtown, so easy public transportation, walking distance, and/or not too far by taxi would all be appreciated!)
The downtown restriction makes it a little difficult since jfood has been driving to St Paul recently since that trip in November and December would have been less fun than now. And the places he seems to gravitate to these days are in NE Minneapolis (literally across the bridge from 112). He's been enjoying some BBQ at Brasa, burgers at bulldog (love the truffle fries and hot dogs), south american at Manana, pakistani at Pak Zam Zam (do not consider goingplease) and vietnamese (over in SP at Ngon). Likewise he was on a Jucy Lucy (stuffed hamburger) fetish for a bit so a bunch of bars were on the radar (Matts and Nook). The burgers are nothing like Don's though and Richie would never survive with his attitude in MSP.
Friday dinner - Jfood loves Alma even with his less than perfection two weeks ago. Also on that list would be Heartland and Meritage (both in St Paul), but Alma would be first. At 112, jfood strongly recommends the pasta with foie gras meatballs. Get a half order to share if you must but it is something that is very special and should not be missed.
Sunday Brunch - jfood does not do brunch and there are better MSP hounds that can guide you.
Ethnic choice - The vietnamese place that jfood likes is in St Paul Ngon Bistro. FFD Cty has none so it may be considered. If you two want to be a little adventurous in NE Minneapolis, there is Manana for Mexican/South American. The Mexican that receives acclaims from Adamclyde (for the MSP hounds he is the rosetta stone of mexican out in CT) is the big yellow truck. Jfood thinks adamclyde might actually rent an apartment after trying Manana (even though it is more Guatamalan than Mexican at times). Now it is a hole in the wall but there are three generations of ladies hand making all the mexican "breads". Nothing fancy by any stretch. Some MSP lady hounds may give insight whether two coastal-BFFs would feel OK in Manana.
If you want a little more casual, you may want to consider Red Stag as well. You need to be careful on choices here (no cassoulet) but it is a nice introduction to the NE Minneapolis area.
What's more important is you trying the ice cream. Since FFD has absolutely zippo ice cream to speak of, you must figure out a way to get to Izzy's in St. Paul.
So if you want where jfood plans on taking mrs jfood it will definitely include Alma and 112 for meals and Izzys for Ice Cream. Then maybe Ngon as a third choice.
Oh, yes....I've been following the ice cream (and jucy lucy) discussions. I am arriving one day earlier than my friend for a work-related meeting on Friday which, conveniently, is in St. Paul. I promise not to leave w/out trying Izzy's - and thanks to the other thread I know about the 5-scoop sampler AND the salt/caramel flavor!
Re: Manana - it sounds great (on the thread where you discussed it). Why do you question the comfort level for us? Is it in a bad neighborhood? Or is there another issue? For what it's worth, I do speak Spanish and have traveled and lived abroad...although admittedly my friend is less likely to venture out of her comfort zone...so elaboration from you on your concerns or a response from MSP women would be great!
jfood ate the 5-scooper at Pumphouse, not Izzys, just to make sure you have your ice cream parlors in sync. and jfood was not that enamored by the salt/caramel.
Manana neighborhood is more like east orange versus short hills. as diesel mentioned the neighborhood is a bit rougher and yes it is in st paul.
yes - in my haste to finish typing before running out the door to a meeting i mixed up the pumphouse and izzy's in terms of hte 5-scoop sampler (but now, thanks to getgot, we both know we can try 5 at izzy's, too)... and while you weren't enamored of the salt/caramel, there were enough dissenters to your opinion to make it worth trying...
the east orange/short hills comparison is helpful. sounds like venturing to manana would be akin to dinner in port chester or bridgeport instead of greenwich or fairfield - which would be fine
Is jfood talking about Manana in St. Paul (E 7th St. near Arcade)? Or is there another place called Manana? The Manana I know is in St. Paul - it's in a rougher neighborhood, and it is pretty much a zero in terms of ambience, but yes, the food is excelente! And my female self and my lady coworkers go there for lunch all the time. The only problem you might encounter, hungrykids, is that it's a long public transit ride. I haven't made that journey before so I'd be hard-pressed to estimate jsut how long. You can get there in 15 minutes in a cab (in low traffic).
thanks, diesel, for the female perspective! short cab ride sounds fine, although i'm still not sure if we'll choose Manana or some other type of ethnic food....
waiting to see if we get consensus here and/or to see what my friend wants to do - she tends to be partial to indian food, which i also love, so that might win out over manana...
we have a week to decide!
Here is more female perspective for you on Manana. I went there for lunch with some of my coworkers a couple weeks ago. We work in an office near Metro State University, a few blocks towards downtown St. Paul.
We truly loved it. As an authentic place. Near where we work.
I loved the puposas I had which are kind of an El Salvadoran specialty.
And it has been on my mind ever since with a return visit planned soon. In fact, it will be on my regular trajectory.
The ambience is zero, as stated.
When we were there, noone spoke good english, but we got by fine, and hungrykids, you will manage exceptionally with your Spanish.
Speaking for myself, I would not be comfortable around there myself after dark or in the general environs. Maybe I am overly cautious. But I wouldn't.
At lunch, with other people, it was very welcoming and a wonderful experience.
Hmmm - 15 minutes by cab sounds like the travel time from downtown St. Paul. If you're in downtown Minneapolis, the cab ride will be longer. I'd guess at least 25 minutes if traffic is light. But there's *always* heavy traffic (and construction) in this town. Count on at least a half hour by cab.
Closer to downtown Minneapolis are the many bare-bones Mexican taquerias on East Lake Street. I like Taqueria La Hacienda (great al pastor) and Los Ocampos (good huraches), but they're both order-at-the-counter places with little ambiance and no alcohol (if I recall correctly). Alas, neither have soup (which is delicious at Manana - well worth the trip if you have the time and cab money).
If you decide to go for Indian food... Me, I love Gandhi Mahal on E. Lake & 27th, which is 3-4 blocks from the Lake Street light rail stop. (Neighborhood is a bit gritty, but there's always people around and you walk past a police station, so I think it's safe during the day and early evening.) And there are a few Indian restaurants downtown, but I haven't been to any of them so I can't compare.
Here's a Gandhi Mahal thread:
Taqueria La Hacienda
334 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
828 7th St E, Saint Paul, MN 55106
3009 27th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN
Taqueria Los Ocampo
809 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Dinner tonight was WONDERFUL!!!!!
Thank you to everyone here who insisted we try 112 Eatery and made a point of telling us to make reservations (which we did last week).
We shared the Sweet & Sour Crab Salad and the Lamb Scottadito to start. The crab salad was superb! The sauce with the lamb was also outstanding - subtle, tasty, perfect - and the lamb was delicious BUT a little fatty, which we only "complain" about because it meant less of the lamb was available for us to enjoy.
We shared a half order of the Foie Gras meatballs and tagliatelle for one of our main dishes. Having read through all of the CH reviews of this dish prior to our meal, we were a little concerned about the tagliatelle. But we attacked it early and vigorously so it wouldn't have time to congeal and, therefore, avoided the mishap that some posters mentioned. We both thought the dish was sublime! The meatballs really did melt in our mouths and the pasta was (to our tastes) cooked perfectly and flavored just right.
We agonized over the second entree we wanted to share....the risotto w/calamari and sausage sounded wonderful (and looked great on the table next to us!) sounded like too hot and heavy a dish after such a humid day. Ditto the country ribs and the lamb sugo (plus two lamb dishes in the same meal didn't tempt us). Perhaps to our detriment, we chose the gougere and mortadella fried sandwich. It was perfectly fine but not in the same league as the other dishes. (Which we should have known, since no one here has ever mentioned it! Oh well.)
Dessert was the tasty Butterscotch Budino - a lovely end to a lovely meal.
Thank you all!
Next stop: Breakfast at Hell's Kitchen...
Clearly, one weekend is not enough time to enjoy all the great food that MSP has to offer!
We had brunch this morning at Hell's Kitchen. It was a mixed experience. I see why people like it - although I think it's become a little bit of a destination rather than a foodie spot... We shared the lemon ricotta hotcakes, the classic American bkfst, and a cup of the Mahmonim porridge. The porridge was the big hit with my friend, who asked that they serve it with the maple syrup on the side, as she was afraid it would be too sweet otherwise. We both liked it as it was and did not add the syrup. I'm not a big porridge lover so, although I enjoyed a few bites, she finished it with gusto.
The rosti potatoes (which came as part of the Classic) were my favorite part of the meal. I thought they were just perfect - and not the kind of thing I could easily duplicate at home. (Somehow I just can't get that "griddle" taste.)
We both thought the maple bison sausage was okay...but not overwhelmingly wonderful. And the eggs were just eggs.
The lemon ricotta pancakes were good. But I was disappointed after hearing so many rave reviews (not so much here on CH but in general). The ricotta in the batter created an eggier texture (which was fine) but I expected more of a zesty lemon bite. I wish they had served a lemon wedge on the side - I would gladly have squeezed it over the top! And I'm certain I could do better at home....where I would not only add more lemon to the batter but some zest as well, which didn't seem to be part of their recipe. So it's not that the pancakes were bad...they just weren't over the top.
The peanut butter was fine. I see why people like it, although I can't say either of us was motivated to buy a jar to take home. The accompanying jams (orange ginger and blackberry ? ginger were delicious).
And the bread.....once again we were challenged to find something we could both eat. The signature sausage bread appealed to neither of us. My friend is not a big fan of sourdough. We wanted the multigrain but it turns out that buckwheat flour is one of its ingredients (who knew???) - so we were stymied by my allergy once again!!! (This time we were careful to ask in advance, however, so no harm, no foul.) Our server promised my friend that the sourdough wouldn't be too sour, so we defaulted to that - and I have to say it didn't taste like sourdough at all - which was good for my friend and not so good to me. Oh well.
We had some fun and we can say we've been there.
The unfortunate part of the HK experience is that by the time we were done we were STUFFED! And since our next stop was the Mill City Farmer's Market, it may not have been the best planning on our part!!
We looked longingly at Chef Shack, Mo-Mo, et al....but couldn't possibly consume another bite....someone please let us know if the beet ice cream would have been any good? We did thoroughly enjoy the view from the top of the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum tour, as well as our walk back along the river.
We're craving ethnic, so dinner tonight looks like Jasmine 26....
Phew! We're exhausted!!
We took the bus from our downtown hotel all the way down (up?) Nicollet to Jasmine 26. Easy enough to do, so not a problem to get there without a car.
Given the posts on some of the other threads that mention Jasmine 26, we thought it might be a little more upscale. It was a nice place - and certainly compared to a "hole in the wall" type of restaurant, we understand why other posters mentioned the decor - but we could have dressed down and still been fine there.
We started with the Hue style rolls. Delicious! Sweet and a little crunchy and serving them "sushi style" made it easy to pick them up and eat them.
From there we went to the Sweet Potato Shrimp Toast for two reasons: one, because neither of us could picture what they would be like and two, because somewhere someone raved about them. They were good but not outstanding. We both felt that they tasted a little too oily - they were too fried - and would have been better if they'd spent a little less time in the oil or something.
We were having trouble making our next few choices, so we asked our server for some help. First, we wanted to know what banana blossoms taste like. She responded that she had never tried the banana blossom salad and couldn't answer our question. Then we asked her what lotus root was like and she said she didn't know that, either. At that point she offered to go ask one of the other servers, which seemed like a good idea to us! The restaurant was practically empty so we didn't feel too bad about making her work a little bit.
She returned a short time later with an explanation about the lotus root and an offer to bring us a small sample of banana blossom since it was "hard to explain." We accepted her offer and appreciated her willingness to get answers (but wondered why she hadn't tried more of the dishes in her own place of employment).
We were split on the banana blossom (I liked it, my friend didn't). We both wanted the Fresh Water Crab Cake Soup and were disappointed to learn they were out of it.
So we moved on to our main courses....the Jasmine Crepe and the Caramelized Lemongrass Shrimp. The shrimp were delicious albeit a bit too spicy for my friend (which was not reflected on the menu....had we known we might have ordered differently). The Jasmine Crepe was also outstanding: light and sweet with a delicious stir fry of shrimp, pork, and vegetables. (And, yes, we made sure there was no buckwheat in the crepe before we ordered it!!!!)
We wanted dessert but the offerings didn't tempt us. We asked our server for suggestions but she was no help. On our way out the door we decided to ask the three young women standing around the hostess station. They enthusiastically offered us directions (via public transportation) to both Sebastian Joe's and a place called Zeno (Xeno?) which we hadn't heard of but which they described as "posh with great desserts."
With all three of them describing our options for the bus, we were decidedly confused as we walked out the door. Nevertheless, our sweet tooths sent us walking....and walking....and walking....down to Lake Street to catch a different bus (and although they assured us it was safe, we were clearly in a less desirable part of town at this point). We got off the bus at Hennepin and, thinking we were heading to Zeno, took a bus up to Franklin.
Of course all you MSPers know what happened: we found ourselves at Sebastian Joe's.... not the worst fate for a couple of women in search of dessert!
I had the Pavarotti (banana, caramel, and chocolate chip if anyone reading this doesn't already know) and it was PERFECT! My friend had the Coffee, Caramel, Oreo ice cream which she also deemed perfect (but for me, a non-coffee drinker, it was too strong).
One more bus ride and we were back "home" for the night - and ready to start researching options for tomorrow.... We only have 1/2 day before we head to the airport.
What to eat? What to eat? What to eat? So many choices, so little time!