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Feb 13, 2010 01:42 PM

help coming to msp tomorrow for 4 days! viet? somali? beer?

sorry for the late notice hounds but i appeciate your help. im coming from nyc to minneapolis tomorrow for 4 days. i'd appeciate any recs for uniqueness. ps ill be staying downtown with no car!

viet and somali are top priorities. for viet i was thinking NGON and most definately the hmong market by the capital. how would those be? viet food is so lame in my area ugh.

what would you rec for somali? funny i lived in columbus for awhile, the other american city that got the big somali influx but it was well before that happened --so i missed that boat -- oh well ;) we have tons of pan-african food around nyc, but no somali so thx for you help!

craft beer bars -- i'll need beerfan assistance - ha! STUB&HERBS on the u of m campus looks mandatory, yes? for uptown/lake i was thinking BYRANT LAKE BOWL? other suggestions? anything right downtown that has lots of local and regional selection? and please any recs for types of locals that are your favorites?

miscellaneous: is HELLS KITCHEN worth a try? its not like i can get native american dishes either so i am very interested about this place, yet kind of worried too for some reason. straighten me out on it please .also, is there anyplace for local lake fish you might rec? any neighborhoods 'nodes' with good stuff where i can walk around to several places without getting on a bus or something?finally -- i'd really like to hear some skyway recs too, not that i plan to live up there but i do want to take a walk around it with my camera of course.

thanks again for all your suggestions -- looking forward to the visit!!!

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  1. Eat street (Nicollet Ave S. about 12th to 29th) you can walk and stop at a variety of great places. There are bars and restaurants in a concentration like no other place in Minneapolis. there is a void of places from about 15th to 22nd. so there would be walking involved.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ibew292

      There is actually only one bar on Eat Street, though a lot of the restaurants have liquor licenses of some kind, though not all do. I'd say the only decent place for beer is The Black Forest, and only for German beers. I like the food, but it is generally seen as only okay.

      1. re: churchka

        Azia's got a pretty nice bar, too. Not a beer-connoisseur type place, but good to stop in and people-watch.

    2. If you're going to be in downtown Minneapolis, Ngon (though great) is a ways away. If you want something closer by for Vietnamese I'd look at Quang at 27th and Nicollet - on the 18 bus route, I think. It's a different vibe than Ngon, not fancy, but generally considered one of the best. Nicollet Ave between Franklin and the Greenway would be a good neighborhood to walk around and pop into several places - then you can walk to Lake/Lyndale and Uptown pretty easily (weather depending).

      I haven't been to Hell's Kitchen in a while but it's generally well-liked. I'm not sure they have a ton of Native American emphasis. Frankly I can't think of a place where that's a big focus, though maybe Wolves Den on Franklin... maybe someone else will know.

      Bulldog NE would be a good place for a beer lover; people also will recommend Town Hall, which is a microbrewery on Washington Ave. I have lived here most of my life and never been to Stub & Herb's, so it is in no way mandatory.

      1 Reply
      1. Welcome!

        Since you won't have a car, I want to make sure to orient my advice to what will be most convenient for you. However, I'm a little confused about where you will be staying. Downtown St. Paul or Downtown Minneapolis?

        A note of caution re: Vietnamese. You are coming tomorrow? Tomorrow, alas, is the start of Tet. At least a few Vietnamese restaurants are closed for Tet on Sunday & Monday. And Monday OR Tuesday are when many Vietnamese restaurants are closed anyway. You might call ahead to any Vietnamese place you plan to visit, just so you don't end up disappointed.

        If you are staying in downtown Minneapolis, then Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and the Hmong Market (which is Hmong, by the way, not Vietnamese, and quiite a bit different from Vietnamese cuisine ) are in St. Paul, and not very close to where you will be. But, they are two of my favorite chow spots in St. Paul.

        The Hmong market is pretty lively during the day, but fizzles a bit around 5:30 or 6pm. Many of the little stalls in the food court close up around then. Also, it's a little hard to find, so you might make sure before you head out that you are clear on exactly where it is. It's not a neighborhood I'd like to be lost in at night, but from from downtown Mpls, (6th Street and Hennepin, I THINK you could the 94C bus, which will drop you at Cedar and 7th Place in downtown St. Paul, then you would walk to Wabasha and 7th Place 0.7MI and catch the 3B, which would drop you at Como Ave and Marion St. The Hmong "International Market Place" is at 217 Como.) But, seriously, it's hard to find and it's not a great place to be lost in.

        If you will be in downtown Mpls, then one of the Vietnamese spots on "Eat Street" (ie., Nicollet) would be more convenient for you. My favs on Eat Street are Pho 79 and Pho Tau Bay. Very divey and hole in the wall'ish. If you want something more "upscale" then Jasmine 26 might be worth a shot--I've been to their "downscale" deli on Eat Street, but never Jasmine 26.

        If you are staying in downtown Mpls, Hell's Kitchen is definitely worth a visit (Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes! Huevos Rancheros! All condiments housemade!), but aside from the wild rice porridge, which was inspired by a Native American dish, there's not much Native American on the menu. Also, I think breakfast is their best meal of the day. Pretty good for lunch. Weak for dinner.

        Local lake fish is hard to get this time of year. Walleye served in MN restaurants is from Canada. But, again, if you're in downtown Mpls, you might try The Dakota Jazz Club, which often has local lake fish on the menu (but not right now as far as I can tell...


        For Somali, lots of the Somali food in the Twin Cities is snack fare sold from little tea and coffee shops tucked into Somali malls, not very restaurant'ish, really. Hamdi or Qoraxlow, both on Lake Street in Minneapolis, are full service restaurants. Perhaps you could take a bus or a cab from downtown Minneapolis.

        Here's an old post on Qoraxlow:
        Here's an old post on the Hmong Market:

        Here's an old post on "Hmong and Somali" cuisine, since those seem to be particular interests of yours.
        Here's tvdxer's thread on TamTams (Ugandan), one of the Somali malls, and the Hmong Market:

        If you want a bunch of ethnic restaurants and shopping possibilities all at once, you might consider visiting Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis on Lake Street (it's right next door to Hamdi by the way). It's mostly cafeteria style, but they do have a Somali stall (Safari Express) and a Vietnamese Deli (Pham's). Phams isn't my favorite for Vietnamese food, alas.The MidGloMo (no one calls it that, btw) gets a little sleepy after 6pm.

        I think the 5E might be the bus you'd take to get to Lake Street from Mpls.

        Good luck!


        1 Reply
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          P.S. If you do end up at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul (to which you would either need to take a bus,16A I think, or a cab from downtown Mpls), they have an awesome local beer list. Ngon's hook is that they try to source locally as much as possible. Their beef and pork is fantastic, they also have (sometimes) local rabbit, duck, elk, and pheasant.

          Stub and Herbs (also accessible via the 16A from downtown Mpls) has an awesome beer list. They recently (say in the past year or so) started focusing more on local beers. Other places with good beer lists: William's or Herkimer or Bulldog in the Uptown district of Minneapolis. In St. Paul, Muddy Pig (decent food, too, of the burger variety) or Happy Gnome (meh food).

          I would say Uptown is pretty easy to explore on foot, as is Grand Avenue in St. Paul (Brasa on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is worth a visit, though it hits almost none of the things you mentioned you were interested in.). Tavern on Grand has a pretty iconic walleye sandwich on its menu.

          Saigon on University in St. Paul (the 16a bus from Mpls again) is apparently having a dragon dance at 1:30 on Sunday Feb 14


        2. For Vietnamese, hop on a bus down Nicollet Ave, get off at 26th Ave, and go to any of the Vietnamese places within 4 blocks of the stop. For bare-bones places, I like Jasmine Deli, Pho 79, Pho Tau Bay, and Quang (about one inch above bare-bones). For slightly upscale, I like Jasmine 26 (has a liquor license).
          [EDIT TO ADD: If I were to guess about which Vietnamese places would be open during Tet, I'd bet on Jasmine Deli and Jasmine Orchid. But I don't know for sure - call before heading out.]

          Somali restaurants are a taxi-ride away; not close to downtown (the rents, don'cha know). But you could take a bus to the Midtown Global Market to eat at Safari Express (to echo The Dairy Queen's excellent recommendations). I love Safari Express!

          By the way, Hell's Kitchen doesn't serve Native-American dishes. Unfortunately, nobody else does, either. But wild rice is available all over town. Do yourself a favor - go to the Wedge Co-op at Lyndale & Franklin for some hand-harvested, traditionally-produced wild rice - you'll be amazed at the quality.

          Enjoy your trip, and eat lots while you're here!


          1 Reply
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            just a little correction on Anne's bus directions, it would be 26th STREET , not 26th Avenue, off of Nicollet for the Asian restaurants. Wedge Coop is at 22nd and Lyndale. Bon Appetit!!

          2. If you are looking for a beer in a restaurant other than brewpub beer try a Surly Brewing brew. They are a local craft brewery with few outlets outside the Twin Cities and they are very good.


            They have a find a bar page.


            The downtown Minneapolis zip codes to enter are 55401 and 55402.