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MSP - Lunch and Dinner for European Visitor

  • b

We've had a variety of international visitors at work recently, and there is one remaining. He is from Croatia and he's going home on Sunday. I'd like to show him a memorable lunch and dinner over the next few days. Something classically Minnesotan (or American) for him to tell people about. Up to now, he has been stuck with Applebees type meals for nearly 3 weeks (although we ate at the St. Paul Hotel and Fogo de Chao last week).

He is staying in Vadnais, so St. Paul is probably best, but Minneapolis isn't completely out of the picture). I'm not talking Meritage/Alma type territory here...something a little less fancy.

There are probably 50 threads just like this, but I wanted new opinions (if there are any).

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  1. assuming a "real american experience" & the atmosphere is a little more important than the absolute best food possible, you could go a few ways. i think cossetta's might be a good bet for a pizzeria, los ocampos (arcade street) for burritos might be good for the lunch. for dinner, what about mancinis for steaks or blue door or the nook for burgers & beers? or tavern on grand for some walleye? *definitely* hit izzy's for ice cream at some point, though!

    1. Barley John's is pretty close. The Town Talk Diner or Highland Park grill are screamingly American.

      The Blue Door pub has my favorite burgers, or you could take him to Be'Wiched (which actually shouldn't be much further). Sandwiches are what Americans seem to do best, And those are great examples of the genre.

      1. My suggestion: Drive up Grand Ave for a meal at either Brasa or Cafe Latte - the food at Brasa is better, but visitors usually love the desserts at Cafe Latte. Another possibility is Big Daddy's Friday and Saturday BBQ on University Ave @ Dale - it's very casual (take-out or eat-in-the-parking-lot only), so I say pick up some beer and head to a park for a picnic.

        Then, if you still have room for more dessert, head over to Izzy's for an ice cream cone. Or you could stay near Brasa for a cone at Grand Old Creamery - I'm not a fan of their ice cream, but it has plenty of admirers and the atmosphere can't be beat.

        And please tell your guest from me, "dobar dan, zabavite se u Minnesotu, i sretan put." (That's all I remember - very inaccurately - from my college studies... :-)


        1. you could go to the Mill City Farmers Market and get a few things from the Chef Shack(and some aebleskivers) then sit at the park behind the Guthrie overlooking the river.

            1. re: tipitina

              Or a Strip Club. I hear Sheiks has good food. He probably wouldn't forget...

            2. Tavern on Grand then Caffe Latte.

              1. Since were sticking in st paul - and you mentioned lunch - how about Manana? Ive never been but i would doubt theres any good pupuserias in Croatia.

                Unless by "American" you mean "USian" in which case its not a very good example. Whats more american/minnesotan than immigrant food? especially if its immigrant food he cant get at home.

                1. American? Think beef, think big beef, think over the top...gotta be Manny's Steakhouse. Never forget it from the checked table clothes, to the rolling out of the beef. Can't go wrong here.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ssgarman

                    Since the OP requested something less fancy than Meritage or Alma, Manny's would indeed be over the top, yes?

                    1. re: KTFoley

                      My apologies...not a MSP native so didn't know of Meritage or Alma. Both sounded more of an eclectic American / European bistro by the name, so looking for something quintessential American, and Manny's came to mind - wasn't paying regard to the prices...anything along those lines more reasonable?

                      1. re: ssgarman

                        Along the steakhouse lines, but more affordable, would be soupkitten's Mancini's rec above. Completely different ambiance, though.

                        For one meal, I would recommend Brasa on Grand. Afterwards, walk to Grand Ole Creamery and Golden Fig (not super cheap, alas, but fun to browse).

                        For another, Ngon Bistro.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          yeah think retro "rat pack" vibe with mancini's. ;-P

                          but i think it's the type of place a lot of eastern europeans might like describing to the folks back home.

                  2. Oh, I know of another one. How about, for lunch, Maverick's in Roseville for the roast beef sandwich and fries with a chocolate shake?


                    1. It's in Minneapolis but I don't think Hell's Kitchen has been mentioned yet. It is certainly Minnesotan, interesting and unique. Michael Stern, the Roadfood books writer, answered the Wall Street Journal interview question of what you would spend his last $20 on for a meal and he said Hell's Kitchen. That's quite an endorsement.

                      1. Ingredients Cafe in White Bear is a good option. Margaux has recently opened again for lunch - also in WBL. Tria in North Oaks is also a good option - sit in the bar and it is quite reasonable - great patio!

                        If you can drop a few bucks, Porterhouse is an underrated steakhouse near by.

                        A must for a pastry in the am - Taste of Scandanavia

                        5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks, MN 55127

                        Taste of Scandanavia Bakery & Cafe
                        2900 Rice St, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                        Ingredients Cafe & Take Away
                        4725 Highway 61, Saint Paul, MN

                        Porter House Steak & Seafood
                        235 East Little Canada Road, Little Canada, MN 55117