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Oct 22, 2009 06:19 AM

Where to eat in Bloomington, MN

I'll be staying at the Sheridan in Bloomington for three nights for a conference and would like some dinning suggestions. Let me admit up front, that I could get lost on a straight street, so the ease of finding a place is important. That being said, I am open to all types of food but don't want to spend $$$$.

Any suggestions?

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  1. There aren't many good options in the immediate vicinity.

    Tandoor (Indian) is pretty good and not that far away, but you might have a little trouble naviagating to it :

    A little farther east, Mandarin Kitchen is chinese and I like that one too. They have a dim sum saturday and sunday at lunchtime which is good, but very popular (busy, crowded) and I've always found that the bill gets to be pretty big, so I prefer to go here for dinner or weekday lunch.

    There are several restaurants in that area, I just can't recommend them as they're either chains (Denny's, fuddruckers, olive garden, Chili's, TGIFridays) or expensive (Chez Colette, Chez Daniel, Bloomington Chop House, Kincaids)

    1 Reply
    1. re: galewskj

      Thanks for the tips. I don't know why conferences always seem to be in "chainland" when it comes to dinning. It was the same at the last conference I went to. I like to use the occasion to get a better meal than I can get where I live (which doesn't take much), so it is always a disappointment to have endless chain restaurants but few local ones.

    2. There is nothing to eat in Bloomington.

      Jfood has spent many nights in that hotel over the last year and can give you a good feel of the area:

      -In the hotel the choice is dismal and not very appealing. If you have to eat, the only that Jfood can somewhat recommend is the chicken quesadilla and the onion rings. That’s about it. There is a Starbys in the lobby that opens at 6 if you do not have access to the lounge.
      -Across the parking lot your choices are Burger King, TGI Friday’s and there is a Chili’s across route 100. All three are obviously dismal
      -Across 78th street in the Sofitel hotel there is a French restaurant. Jfood has not eaten there (well he did in 1985 but that does not count) but others say it is very good.

      That’s why you need a car. When looking at a map most places will be north of the hotel. The intersection of route 62 and 35W is under construction so if you are afraid of following unknown signs this connection on the return will be difficult, but not impossible.

      Your closest best choices will include:

      -Heidi’s (on 50th street) – Excellent new American cuisine and chef is getting great reviews. One of Jfood's favorites but make sure you make a reservation.

      -Blackbird – (Next door to Heidis’) – Jfood wants to try but has not been able to get a reservation (good sign) and it is always busy when Jfood eats at Heidi’s.

      -Corner Table – (47th and Nicolette). This is a great place with a very inventive chef who uses local ingredients.

      -Café Levain – (Chicago Ave) – Construction makes this a little difficult to get to as the exit off 35W is closed and you have to detour around it. Jfood loves the short ribs, hamburger and he ate a corn chowder that was out of this world.

      - Campiellos – Maybe a 5 minute drive. Lots of people love this place Jfood has mixed feelings.

      All four of these have menus on line

      -MSP also has a bunch of very good Thai and Vietnamese restaurants up in St Paul. There is one in St. Louis Park named Than Do. It is about a 10-15 drive, but very easy

      -Downtown Minneapolis offers a few great places including 112 Eatery

      -Saffron (across the street from each other

      -NE Minneapolis (just over the river offers tremendous variety, from Burgers to Pizza to Jfood's favorite restaurant in Minneapolis, Restaurant Alma

      -There are also a lot of restaurants on Nicolette Mall, including Vincents, Barrio, Masa, and others
      - (go in the bar

      St. Paul can be a shlep so Jfood will refrain from restaurants up there. If you think a 25 minute ride is in the cards, just post and people will be glad to help.

      10 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        In addition to jfood's excellent list, I'd add two other spots that are fairly easy to get to from the 100/394 interchange. If you take 100 up to 50th street and head east (right) you can either stop at France Avenue and eat at the Edina Grill or continue on until Penn where you will find Broder's Cucina Italiana on the north side of the street or Broder's Southside Pasta Bar on the south side of the street. Both are owned by the same family. Cucina is more casual - order at the counter and grab a seat. The pasta bar is more creative in its offering and is a sit-down type of restaurant. Both can get crowded, but you can call the Pasta Bar 1 hour ahead and get put on their list. I've never waited very long when I've done that.

        EDITED TO ADD that the map showing the location of Cucina Italiana is all screwed up. It's really across the street from the Pasta Bar

        Edina Grill
        5028 France Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

        Broders Cucina Italiana
        2308 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

        Broders' Southside Pasta Bar
        5000 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419

        1. re: bob s

          jfood almost went to edina grill last week for the first time. the place around the corner on 50th that suposedly has good burgers is not worth the drive, even their fries are badly prepared.

          Broders reminds jfood of a jersey diner that serves pasta. It has a big round counter area and tables around the perimeter. jfood thought is was OK. he was alittle afraid when he saw them place the lasagne in the MV to prepare, in plaine site of everyone. Gotta love their chutzpah.

          1. re: jfood

            I'm trying to picture what place you're talking about with the burgers - I can't picture it.

            The Edina Grill is very pleasant, but it's not earth shattering food. As you may know, it is now part of a small chain - Highland Grill, 3 Squares, Longfellow Grill are all siblings and the Groveland Tap is a first cousin. Quite frankly, I think that the quality has slipped a little and the imagination has gone down in the past few years - I think they've tried to standardize menus across the venues and it feels far too corporate for me. We used to eat breakfast there 2-3 times a month, but rarely make it there anymore.

            As far as Broder's goes, I'm surprised that you only had a mediocre meal there. We've generally had consistent good luck with the food. Oh well... Perhaps it's because I've never noticed the MV!

            1. re: bob s

              burger place was salut bar americain

              1. re: jfood

                Ah... I thought you were talking about a place on 50th. I'm not high on Salut either. I don't think someone will go away thinking it's the worst thing they've eaten if they go there, but the imagination/price/service/taste ratios are out of whack as far as I'm concerned.

              2. re: bob s

                I haven't eaten at Broders in a while. But as of last time I was there, they were making their own marscapone in house. Which tells me they have some commitment to authenticity and quality.

                1. re: karykat

                  If you want Italian and it is closer than Broders and waaaaay better, try the Italian place on France and 51st, Arezzo.


                  Great little place

                  Arezzo Ristorante
                  5057 France Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

                  1. re: jfood

                    This is very interesting, jfood. Perhaps we have differing Italian tastes. My one stop at Arezzo years ago was mediocre, bordering on bad. Perhaps I should put it into the rotation and try it again.

                    1. re: bob s

                      jfood did a take out pizza and the spinach pasta with sausage. The pasta was homemade and was very good and he liked the pizza. At Broders he ordered a pepperoni pizza (small) as an appetizer. The pizza crust was more white bread than semolina, the sauce was too sweet, the oven was not hot enough to crisp either the dough or the edges of the pepperoni.

                      For an entree he ordered the lasagne. As Jfood was eating the pizza he noticed the chef placing some dishes in the MV. He wondered what those were and when he saw the lasagna was prepared this way, he first hyperventilated, then relaxed. It’s not Rao’s, it’s Broders just sit back and relax. The plate was delivered and the chef sliced the rectangular piece on an angle and served the two wedges. Fresh Parmesan was brought (nice touch) and Jfood grabbed his fork. Then he noticed something he has never seen on lasagna. They sprinkled chives around the plate as it came from the kitchen. OK Jfood is game. One bite told him to leave that idea at one bite. Chives do not go with lasagna. His first bite told him two things. First the green and white pasta was homemade. Second, the chef was still experimenting as he placed basil leaves in the lasagna (Jfood tried that last year at home) and he will probably come to the same conclusion that basil and lasagna created a weird combination and he should place the fresh leaves on top versus inside. But Jfood has to say that he enjoyed the lasagna. The ricotta broke down a little from the MV, the Parmesan was a little overpowering, but the lamb ragu gave a nice texture and flavor to the dish.

                      So Arezzo has fonder memories than Broders. There are some other Italian choices that jfood would recommend over these two but geography comes into play with this request.

                      1. re: jfood

                        I remember your original review of Broders and thinking that I was sorry you didn't have a better meal. I agree that there is better Italian in the Twin Cities - probably not near Bloomington though.

        2. It's never popular, especially in light of the palates on this board, but you can find decent food at the Mall of America. Since you "could get lost on a straight street," just look for the giant building next to the airport.

          There are a few places there, that are a step above chains but not on the same level as some of the restaurants listed above. They are linked below:

          Famous Dave's
          321 South Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55420

          Tucci Benucch
          Mall of America, Minneapolis, MN 55420

          Twin City Grill
          130 N Garden, Bloomington, MN 55425

          Cantina #1
          406 E Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55425

          2 Replies
          1. re: GutGrease

            driving from the sheraton to the mall of america for dinner is a nightmare, and downtown would take as long. 494 east is a virutal parking lot starting at 330 until 630

            1. re: GutGrease

              Sorry, I hate to do this but, this is a terrible recommendation for a visitor. Everything on that list can be duplicated almost identically on France Avenue, five minutes from the Sheraton.

              Tavern on France is a carbon copy of Twin City Grill (and much, much better). Ciao Bella just off France is better than Tucci Benucch.

              There's a Famous Dave's much closer (98th Street, just off of Normandale Blvd...essentially one turn once you leave the hotel).

              I guess crappy Mexican is missing from that immediate area, so maybe Cantina #1 is still in play. But why go through the hassle of parking/walking through the Mall, when you could have the same basic thing at Chevy's outside the Mall across the street?

            2. If there's a shuttle to MOA, try CRAVE. Otherwise, check out Cafe Maud at 54th & Penn, which is very easy to find from your location. If you are with others and able to stray a little form the beaten path, maybe Cafe Ena, which is very accessible off of Hwy 35W at 46th & Grand.


              4 Replies
              1. re: leesinkorswim

                What is the fascination with sending this poor person clear over to the Mall of America? There is a Crave right by the OP's hotel (Galleria).

                1. re: MSPD

                  Crave is in the Galleria and the Westin is next door, the Sheraton is west of Rt 100 about 2 miles away from the Galleria. And jfood would not recommend Crave at the Galleria

                  1. re: jfood

                    However I would recommend the Good Earth at the Galleria.

                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                      jfood ate there last year and as he remembers their portions for very small.

              2. Wally's Famous Roast Beef Sandwiches.


                Since 1969 People Have Been Saying "Oh By Golly, Gotta Have A Wally."

                I must admit, that since Maverick's opened up about 10 miles closer to home, I have not had a Wally's roast beef. But they used to be very good. Get the jus.

                Go south on Penn to 90th. It's in the strip mall on the SE corner of 90th and Penn.

                9 Replies
                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                  Glad to hear you recommend Wally's. My Bloomington mother has been trying to get me there for years. She is a fan.

                  1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                    Important note for a conference attendee: Wally's is closed after 3 p.m. Not a dinner option.

                    1. re: MSPD

                      I went to Wally's twice when I lived closer and was never impressed. Their weird hours make it almost impossible for me to go there. How does this place stay in business - good lunch hour I assume?

                      1. re: galewskj

                        How does this place stay in business? It's a classic, blue collar independent neighborhood lunch joint. It appeals to people looking for comfort food, cheap and filling meals, gravy/meat/potatoes served by lunch lady types in a no-nonsense setting on a no-nonsense plastic tray. It's incredibly consistent. Food you can always count on.

                        It's for people that dig with shovels, carry heavy objects, work with their hands and/or need to fill the emptiness of their cubicle-sucked souls with a good hot meatloaf sandwich, not some namby-pamby banh mi with 1/2 ounce of pork and some wierd little veggies that you're supposed to eat with your well-manicured pinkies extended.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          Hmmm...I think you have the banh mi crowd all wrong. Have you seen the men who line up for banh mi at Trung Nam M-F mornings? None of those guys look like their souls have been cubicle-sucked. They look like pretty solid St. Paulites to me.

                          And when did cucumbers and pickled carrots become "weird"?


                            1. re: MSPD

                              Whoops. Well, clearly the "D" in TDQ stands for "dense."

                              Still, I really dig the weekday morning crowd at Trung Nam. It's like a little UN, right there on University Avenue.


                          1. re: MSPD

                            "It's for people that dig with shovels, carry heavy objects, work with their hands and/or need to fill the emptiness of their cubicle-sucked souls with a good hot meatloaf sandwich, not some namby-pamby banh mi with 1/2 ounce of pork and some wierd little veggies that you're supposed to eat with your well-manicured pinkies extended."

                            That's classic roadfood. :)

                            1. re: MSPD

                              Ok. I'll give this place a try again. I haven't been there for several years, but I was never impressed. I went there because they had an entertainment coupon and then when I tried to go again they had cut there hours down to 3pm, which made me think that their days were numbered. But again, that was several years ago and they're still around.