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Good Eating Spots in Downtown Minneapolis?

Ok - I admit that I haven't done my research because I'm seriously swamped at work, but I'm hoping some 'hounds will sympathize and help out with my shortcut.

I'm going to be in DT Minneapolis for 3 days, attending a conference at the Hilton. I've never been to MN before, and don't know anyone from the area, so I'd love some recommendations on some good eats within "walking distance" (I'm from Buffalo so I can handle sizable walks in bitter cold temps) because I'll be on foot and with co-workers who will not want to venture very far for dinner.

As far as eating goes, I like just about anything and everything. I'd prefer more unique (not Ruth's Chris) or local, but any suggestions 'hounds make, I'm willing to investigate!

Thanks for helping me out!!!

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  1. you are right at Nicolette Mall which has several good restaurants within a couple of blocks.

    Barrio, Vincents and Masa come to mind. If you want a longer walk, you have 112 eatery and saffron.

    do a search on these restaurants and think about price as well and post. there are some great MSP hounds who can give you lots of ideas.

    1. jfood gives 3 great suggestions within walking distance, right off the bat. Barrio is a raucous tequila bar with way above average small bites, Vincent is a white tablecloth spot with excellent French cuisine, and Masa (right across the street from Vincent) is upscale Mexican. I love all 3. All 3 have very good happy hours, BTW. Very much worth checking out if you get the chance.

      112 and Saffron are both ~1 mile away, but both are worth it. 112 is a hot spot, where you usually have trouble finding a last minute spot. Saffron won't be as busy, but the food is just as good.

      Other options on Nicollet Mall area:

      -Hell's Kitchen - Excellent breakfast (served all day)
      -Brit's and The Local are two pretty good bars on Nicollet, only a few steps from your hotel.

      There are a few other good options, depending on your tastes, budget and willingness to travel.

      1. a bit of a walk (but a very cheap cab ride) is across the bridge to Alma.

        After years of having 112 be my default, Alma has surely stolen me away; especially with their level of service.

        Granted I will say there are some misses on their menu (like their current swordfish offering, as well as the shrimp ceviche) for my palate; but their mezzaluna is probably the single greatest pasta dish I've had in the twin cities and ranks in the top 10 of any pasta dish I've ever eaten (and I've lived/eaten pretty much everywhere)

        Also, a fantastic cheese selection and I have to say it's the best wine by the glass offering I've seen here in the twin cities.

        4 Replies
        1. re: eburke91

          while i havent tried the mezzaluna, they were running a papardelle bolognese special at a meal we had last winter which was the best rendition ive ever had, which was surprising since its not in keeping with their style at all, and not surprising in the least since i think alex robert's runs one of the best kitchens in town there and id eat fried eggs and a short stack if thats what they felt like cooking that night.

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            I wish they'd bring the short rib back.

            And I agree entirely with how that kitchen is run. In fact, that entire restaurant is a tightly run ship.

            the thing I appreciate with them over some of the other notable restaurants in the TC (112, LBV, even Bar La Grassa has a bit of the bloated head syndrome already) is every time I've been there (even on a bustling night) I've always noticed how everyone gets treated as though they matter a great deal. It's the little things that count to make a dining experience great.

            1. re: eburke91

              I agree entirely -- get to Restaurant Alma if you can. Thoughtfully prepared with local stuff. Excellent service.

              It may not be walkable, but it won't be a long cab ride.

              1. re: karykat

                Although jfood did not include on his list (due to distance) if the legs and weather want to cooperate jfood still thinks Alma is the best restaurant in MSP. If you do go, jfood likes the downstairs better than the second, but others may disagree. E\ven a solo (which jfood has been) is a welcome guest at Alma.

        2. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I will check into all those places, and I'll be sure to keep Alma in mind if I get an evening alone or can convince the crew to take a cab.

          Much appreciated!!

          1. There's a French guy who runs a tiny little crepe shop right on Nicollet mall, about 3 blocks up from the Hilton. He makes real blé noir (buckwheat) crepes, and they are fantastic. Very fun for breakfast or a quick lunch.