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Short Trip - 3 Questions (MSP)

Hi, all --
NYC 'hound here and I've been perusing your board for a bit now. Let me first say I have new-found sympathy for all of you who bemoan the fact of so many states sharing one board. Boy does it make searching difficult! I would guess it's even a pain for regular users. So when the Powers That Be at Chow start talking new boards, you have my vote. :)

On to the questions ... A quick trip to Minneapolis and St. Paul has come together for DH and me. We've got some things pretty well planned (I've been using these two threads as guides: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610897 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/624355 which have been great). We are also doing a 1-day side spin over to WI for a "cheese tour" using our handy dandy Wisconsin Cheese Map -- thank you, MplsMary.

But we have 3 questions:
1) is there anything noteworthy to eat at the Metrodome? I read on one thread that more ice cream is sold there than any other stadium. Is there a local favorite inside the stadium? If there's nothing of note re: food inside, is there somewhere right outside that would be good -- local/funky/fan-fun/whatever?

2) on many threads here I've read about the Mill City Farmers Market. The NY TImes recently had a blurb about the St. Paul Farmers Market -- as one of the oldest continually operated in the country and one of the largest. Both seem to be on Saturdays. Since we will have limited time before our flight out on Saturday afternoon, would you recommend one over the other? Which would have more things that we may not see here on the east coast/NYC? We prefer mostly food (produce, cheese, dairy, even prepared foods) over arts/crafts or tchochkes.

3) mentioned on several threads were Muddy Pig, Happy Gnome, Blue Door, and Old Town Tavern (sorry if I've gotten any names wrong). DH is very into local craft brews, cask conditioned ales, etc. Which of these -- or any others? -- would you recommend?

Thanks for any help you can provide. Oh, and as NYers we are used to walking everywhere or using public transit and we'll have a rental, so whatever you recommend should work for us.

LNG

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  1. 1. nothing too striking at the dome. If you want to address #3 on the day of the dome, there is the Town Hall Brewery that isn't too far from the dome.
    2. depending where you are staying would maybe dictate. The St. Paul market is primarily food and flowers. All merchants have to live within 50 miles of St. Paul so it is truely local produce. Haven't been to the Mill City market.
    3. You should try a Summit or Surly for local craft beers. Those should be found at most local places. Or, see #1 above.

    2 Replies
    1. re: liesel

      Ah, thank you. Town Hall is probably what I meant and misremembered the name. Too bad about the Dome.

      On Friday night we are seeing a game, so we will be staying not far from there. Then Saturday we have the morning to "play" before heading to the airport. We didn't think either market would be hard to get to, though I guess Mill City is really right there?

      1. re: LNG212

        Since you are going to a game, the only thing I can recommend is to be picky about where you buy your beer. Each stand has a flavorful option. Sometimes nothing special, but some of them have Summit or James Page brews. It is the same price as the generic Millers and Buds so if you are going to get a beer, might as well find one that is tasty.

        Famous Dave's is the only semi decent food there but isn't particularly special. I'd maybe suggest going to Spoonriver as a place to eat near the Metrodump. Or the new seafood place at the Guthrie (sea change I think?) Maybe sanctuary or spill the wine? Either way Washington Ave is your best bet with a couple of neat spots near the Guthrie Theater.

    2. 1) There is nothing noteworthy to eat at the Metrodome, nor is there anything in the immediate area. Your best bet is to use to the light rail to and from the other end of downtown, where your options increase exponentially.

      2) I'd opt for Mill City. Plenty of local produce, dairy, meats, and prepared goods, and the location is very cool.

      3) From a pure variety standpoint, Muddy Pig or Happy Gnome have exhaustive beer lists. Blue Door has plenty of local brews to try, and also a great list of Jucy Lucys, a burger stuffed with cheese that is popular here. For a place that has its own brews, I'd recommend Barley Johns in New Brighton, especially since they have the Rosie on tap.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kevin47

        "the other end of downtown" -- okay, so I guess I don't have my geography down yet. :) Does the other end mean sort of going down Nicollet (I guess that's southwest-ish)?

        DH was interested in the Jucy Lucy. Maybe we'll just see where we are since I've mapped the location of all three of those spots. He definitely wants to try local stuff (and we've never seen Surly or that sort of thing here).

        Thanks to both of you.

        1. re: LNG212

          My advice is this. Park somewhere near Nicollet Mall and 6th. A basic city map should get you to the vicinity, and you will have no problem finding parking, either by ramp or lot. Aim for a 5:30 dinner time.

          From there, hit our Downtown board for a recommendation.

          After, hit the light rail (which runs down 5th street... any waiter should be able to tell you how to get there) and head East. There's usually a crowd headed to the game. Cost is 50 cents each way.

          Don't go to Hubert's. It's a nightmare before games, and, rest assured, the Humphreys do NOT go there.

      2. hi, welcome to msp

        as far as i know (i am not a sports fan), the food at the HHH metrodome itself is typical sports arena fare: average and overpriced. i would second Liesel's rec of the town hall brewery for some better than avg-good food and interesting brews. alternately, or in conjunction, you could check out hubert's bar, across the street from the dome. it is the epitome of a local independent sports bar, with all the memorabilia and jerseys and such all over the walls. a warning that the place tends to be packed before and during sports events, but it may be of interest to you. it is very "fan-fun" as you say but i have no idea if the food or drinks are any good-- again i am not the biggest sports fan, sorry :)

        i heart both the mill city and st paul FMs, but they are very different markets. st paul will be mostly local produce, flowers, a few prepared foods, a lot of pastured/local meats. it's a serious shopper's market. if you go there get the hungarian pepper bacon from bar 5 to take home. mill city has many more crafts, which does annoy some folks. but it also has more certified organic/sustainable farms and more of a festival atmosphere. there is a local chef demo at 10 each week and usually live music or performers. *lots* of prepared foods. at mill city, buy real wild rice and wild rice flour, & ames farm single source honey (get the melon for sure). also buy some castle rock chocolate milk (one of the best organic dairies in the country) in the glass bottle from the general store and slurp it on the spot so you can get your deposit back ;)

        with apologies to their fans, i wouldn't rec any of the bars you mention to an out-of-town visitor-- they really are just neighborhood joints or 1/2 step up from neighborhood joints, i don't think they are worthy of a special trip, though they are nice to have in your neighborhood. look for SURLY beer on menus throughout msp and partake. surly furious is a good introduction to the brewery. do not be afraid if this craft beer comes in a can, it is unpasteurized and refrigerated throughout the canning process so it is perfectly awesome in a can as well as on tap.

        don't forget to report on your trip afterwards. can't wait to hear about the fun-sounding cheese tour!

        1. This is all good feedback. Thank you, everyone.

          1. Everything you've gotten here has been pretty sound advice, a few things id add:

            1. the dome has no good food. what soupkitten describes as "typical" stadium food is about as dated as the dome's architecture - most modern stadiums have foods that are supposed to represent regional cuisines of their teams' cities, but you'll find none of that here, just the same old hormel hot dogs ("dome dogs")turkey brats and yellow goopy nachos. if i were you id pick up some bahn mi or other portable foodstuff and bring it in with you (drinks would be confiscated, but you can bring whatever you'd like in as long as its not liquid).

            2. mill city, hands down. i love the st paul market, and its closer to where i live, but if i were traveling and interested in "scene" as much as produce, mill city can't be beat. chef shack is really excellent, check the website to see if there are any food demos and be sure to stop at love tree dairy for a taste of whatever they're selling - especially the extra old cave-aged cheddar. the abbelskivers and momos are other highlights (seriously, i think a mill city mkt trip may be the best single experience you could get to feel what the twin cities food scene is all about).

            3. on the craft beer front Surly is definitely a great recommendation, you can read around about their offerings but the bender, cynicale, and furious are the most commonly found types, though bitter brewer is fairly prevalent as well. the coffee steeped bender is truly something else with an intense coffee flavor.
            Lift bridge and flat earth are other local micro's that you'll see if you check out muddy pig or happy gnome (and a few other spots) which are very good.
            Personally id skip out on summit, its not bad but its fairly mass marketed and a little old-school when it comes to local beer (is too big to be a micro, much more a craft beer, and while the epa is fine and ubiquitous some of their other options -seasonals excepted - leave something to be desired. Some non local but regional favorites that you may or may not see out in ny include Bells beers from Michigan (their summer oberon tastes like a nice day outside) and Capitol from madison, wi.

            11 Replies
            1. re: tex.s.toast

              tex.s.toast - thanks so much for such good suggestions. Very much appreciate knowing that we can bring our own food into the dome. Not all stadia allow that (we are actually used to that since the Mets have always allowed it). Maybe we'll find some interesting wares during our walks that day.

              And thanks for all the info re: the beer. DH is very excited. He had heard of Summit but none of the others mentioned. This will be really cool for him.

              Sounds like we'll be going to Mill City farmers market. I will be noting all of the suggestions mentioned in this thread. I dare say we will eat a lot before getting on that plane. And hopefully find goodies to bring home.

              1. re: LNG212

                As someone about to become a NY resident, things i will miss most include our awesome farmers markets (i know there will be lots of options there - i LOVE streetside produce, even when its decidedly not local) for the outrageous commitment to localism, thats what happens when you only get local fresh produce a few short months a year.

                also high on that list are local beers - surly flat earth being the two im most saddened to leave. people are almost as excited about beer here as local produce (and hey, you can drink it all year around). though you should note that if he wants to buy beer to bring home/to the hotel he should do it before 10pm in minneapolis and 8 pm in st paul, and not on sundays because we dont roll like that - puritanical blue laws will not make my list of things i miss.

                One other thing i will miss, which i have been hearing i will not get in such quantity or quality in NY (and im not sure which borough you live in, but ill give you points for being Mets people) is vietnamese food - nearish to downtown minneapolis on nicollett you will find a couple of much beloved places, Quang which is a sit-down place known for their soups (though not only pho) and Pho Tau Bay and Pho 79 which are, obviously, known for their pho. Jasmine deli used to be my go-to sandwich shop but they arent very authentic and are kinda pricey for what you get. Down a block or two (at about 28th street and Nicollett) you'll find Hoang Thiep Y (ok my spelling may be off) which is in a sort of mall type thing (it has no street frontage, but faces a parking lot across from a taco shop/mexican grocer) which is my new eat-street bahn mi stop - though i will say i think i got an old roll the last time i was there. Also very close is Jasmine 26 which is a bit more upmarket sit down and has a bar where you can get alcoholic bubble tea, and, most importantly, salt and pepper tofu worthy of even carnivores. In st paul my two favorite spots are Saigon, a humble place with a walk through sandwich line that makes, imo, the best bahn mi in town (also very respectable bun, noodle salads, and great grilled pork spring rolls). Across the street/down the block is Pho Ca Do, my go-to pho spot that serves only that, a little shabby but great soup. Also nearby to both of these spots is Ngon Vietnamese Bistro which is an interesting spot with really good food, a comittment to local and organic sourcing, a great local beer selection, and both fusion-y and traditional vietnamese items. Some have been somewhat unerwhelmed but i think they do what they do very well and searching the board will provide plentiful reports of what to order.

                A final note on the metrodome (we go to lots of twins games) the food options outside on the fan-pavillion thing will be, generally, better than inside, butonly slightly, you'd still do best to byo). Inside i can vouch for the soft serve sundaes/root beer floats since you mention ice cream in your OP, but it wont compare to the numerous higher end creameries around town (search for Izzy's, Sebastian Joes, Grand Ole Creamery, and Pumphouse to get an idea).

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  Thanks again for some great info. I esp. like the way you approached it with "things I'll miss most". The produce/local/farmers thing is why we really wanted to see one of the big greenmarkets out your way. We've been to "fancy" ones like Pike Place in Seattle and the big one in SF but those seem so not "regular shoppers". And our experience here in the northeast is that most places don't compare to the big greenmarket in NYC (Union Square). So we wanted to see it "done right" so to speak. :)

                  We are Manhattan people but we do spend an awful lot of time in Queens with our poor pathetic Mets (and most years, yes, that is what we call them). The descriptions of the dome sound very much the way we would describe old Shea -- outdated architecture, terrible mass produced food, not reflective at all of the town in which it's situated. Things got much better (though not perfect) at new Shea. When you move here, you'll have to take a spin out there to check it out. We are hoping to take your advice and get some bahn mi or other interesting wares to bring to the game.

                  As for the Vietnamese restaurants, I'm certainly by no means an expert or really knowledgeable but I do enjoy it. Salt & pepper tofu sounds great. There are some places here that make their own tofu and such and it's supposed to be a real art. And *alcoholic* bubble tea, really? Now that would be cool. DH can't stand the consistency of the tapioca balls but I do love that stuff.

                  Thanks again and you'll get great recs over on the various city boards when you arrive. People are always helpful and there are some really knowledgeable hounds, esp. when it comes to various Asian cuisines. I think you'll spend a lot of time in Flushing! :)

                  1. re: LNG212

                    Though ive been professing my love for all things asian, as a native californian latino food is another passion - i'm planning on spending my birthday at the red hook ball fields as brooklyn will likely be my home.

                    on the farmers market issue - like i said above i grew up in SF so i have come to love the ferry plaza, and I would say that Mill City is channeling that ethos much more than a typical neighborhood market. In DT Saint Paul you will see people doing their weekly produce shop, with the option of buying a bagel/donut/coffee. Its great, and like i said, i love it and will miss it dearly. Mill city still has a great selection of local stands (if fewer that just do produce) but also has the types of things i look for when traveling and checking out markets - namely non-perishables and prepared foods to make a more complete experience out of a morning at the market. Go and enjoy, im sure you'll have a great time.

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      You'll love red hook ballfields. While NYC may not have as strong a Mexican pressence as, say, greater LA, it does have lots of carribean and south american food (colombian, ecuadorian, etc. etc.). We have friends who live in Carroll Gardens and we love that neighborhood too.

                      We are looking forward to Mill City market. And we are indeed hoping to come away with some goodies to bring home, both for ourselves as well as for gifts (our kitty sitter especially always appreciates the treats we bring back).

              2. re: tex.s.toast

                Seconding the Surly, it's so hard to come by outside of the Twin Cities and I swear I'm gonna figure out a way to bring a case of that stuff back to Texas. Every beer I've tried from their lineup is exceptional regardless of it being on tap or in a can. Coffee Bender is also my favorite, the creamy beer is full of caramel flavor, and it's so smooth and refreshing. OP has gotten plenty of great suggestions all around and I've also taken some notes for myself in the future. Props MSP 'hounds.

                1. re: air

                  <<Props MSP 'hounds.>>

                  DITTO!

                2. re: tex.s.toast

                  For the record, Hormel is a Minnesota-based company and they serve their "dome dogs" with Old Dutch potato chips, also a local brand. It's not very "chowhound'ish" and it doesn't represent the full breadth of local chow, but it is pretty "local". Also, it's apparently somewhat beloved among Twins fans.When they were doing research for the new stadium, they asked Twins fans what they would most miss from the Metrodome if it weren't in the new stadium. This was a general question, not a food question, but apparently the overwelming response was people really hoped they'd still have the "dome dogs" in the new stadium. Weird, but true.

                  Dairy Queen, which is where the very "popular" ice cream sold at the dome comes from, is also a local chain. Personally, I can't bear to wear in that long line for just a DQ ice cream, even if it is sold in a mini-Twins helmet, when it's the same DQ ice cream as found everywhere else in MN.

                  El Burrito Mercado has a stand outside the dome before many Twins games (they sell burritos, I think). I've never gone to the stand, but I've heard they have a hard time controlling the temp of the food, so, it's unfortunately, not the pretty good chow you'd normally expect from EBM.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Dairy Queen, the breadth and depth of your chow knowledge never ceases to amaze me. (Like, I never knew that El Burrito had a presence at the dome!) It's good to know that there's so much "local" food available at the game.

                    Anne

                    P.S. Old Dutch potato chips are the only chips worth eating. (I'm a native Twin Citian who was weaned on these guys.)

                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      The EBM stand is only outside the dome on the "plaza" before the game. It closes once the game starts.

                      ~TDQ

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      While all you say is true I have to register high pique that Blue Frakking Bunny is "The Official Ice Cream of the Minnesota Twins." Grrr. Kemps may blow but at least it's local(ish).