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Restaurants You Love - And Nobody Talks About

Since we have another thread talking about what we don't like, let's start one where we talk about what we do enjoy. Name a restaurant that you love that doesn't get the attention you think it deserves.

Mine is Cafe Biaggio on University. I've been eating there for years now and every time I go, they seem to up the ante. The pastas are fantastic and their Carbonara may be the best version in the Twin Cities. The last few times I've been there, they had a lamb shank dish that also was out of this world good. I've brought dates, friends, family members, and business associates and everyone has left impressed. The room is decorated well and it's always fun to see the owner sitting at the bar enjoying a glass of wine and just surveying the place to make sure everyone is happy and having a good time. I just believe they are doing some good things there and I hope some of you will give it a try the next time you are in the neighborhood or craving Italian

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  1. That is weird! I was just going to post about that place. I had never been there or even heard of it until a couple of weeks ago. I was in the area and met somebody there for lunch. It blew me away! Even for lunch it was awesome. We ended up having wine and dessert with lunch! It just made you want to try everything they had. So, I agree with Café Biaggio and would like to add my place. The Ideal Diner! It is very basic and really good when the mood strikes. Breakfast of champions. Something about the omelets on the grill and the giant pancakes made from neon yellow batter. Mmmmm.

    1. KimBinh, which sadly closed or got turned into some pan-asian joint a couple weeks ago.

      1. I'm a huge fan of Singapore in south Minneapolis. It's a nice little restaurant in a quiet neighborhood. And they have the most amazing curry. I probably get take out from there once every couple of weeks and it has never let me down. I can't understand why more people don't go there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ksioux

          Hi ksioux- I also think the food at Singapore is delish. It seems that the owner just started a marketing type plan, with coupons in the circular, but before that, I don't think she was doing much in the way of making herself known. And I hate to say but the service can be slow, since it is usually her and maybe one other person. I encourage the Chowhound board to give it a try. The Captain's curry and Singapore noodles are my favorite dishes.

          1. re: ksioux

            Just went to Singapore for the first time. Great food, good portions, good prices. The chicken satay appetizer is almost a meal for two on its own. The curries we tried were great -- robust and complex flavors. We're definitely going back and bringing friends.

            Singapore Restaurant
            5554 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

          2. Cave Vin

            So, this place gets plenty of love from critics and foodies, and it seems that their business is booming. But I still feel it's underrated - maybe because it isn't much to look at from the outside.

            The first time I ate there I came in with moderate expectations, having never heard anything about it. That day represents, by far for me, the biggest blowing away of expectations of a restaurant ever. And I've never been disappointed since.

            5 Replies
            1. re: keithinmpls

              That's so funny, I was going to say Cave Vin also. I love that place.
              So instead, I'll say Rainbow Chinese. The egg rolls and schezuan wontons are delicious. Plus I'm totally addicted to their chowfun.

              1. re: meljohns

                I like Kowloon on the UofM campus. Very popular among the Chinese graduate student set at the U. The duck on taro and steamed tofu are top of the line.

              2. re: keithinmpls

                I love Ruam Mit Thai in St. Paul. I am addicted to their Spring Rolls and Rad Na with chicken. The black bean sauce is so good that I sop up of all of it with sticky rice. Everytime there is a thread about Thai food, I look for a mention and never or rarely see one. Sometimes the service is lacking and the tables not cleaned fast enough...but I love it.

                1. re: leeniebeanie

                  Worst service ever over the lunch hour. It always takes more than an hour to get in, order, eat, and pay. Good food though.

                  1. re: leeniebeanie

                    This used to be our go to Thai place. And then all the changes...being closed, different management(?)...it all got so weird...but I'll have to try again.

                  1. re: green56

                    +1 on Fasika. Never had a bad meal there and it's the go-to restaurant when I introduce people to Ethiopian food.

                    And, just to add a bit to the thread, I'll nominate Shish over by Macalester in St. Paul. A little heavy-handed with the olive oil sometimes, but just a nice place to enjoy food that's a little different.

                    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      +1 for Shish as well - I'm very happy that the last 6 times I've gone there its been packed.

                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                        My own nominee is The Lexington. Stopped in last night for a filet and it was excellent. I hadn't been in a few months.

                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                          HA! I always think of that place as filled with "blue haired babes." But I got invited a while back and had a butternut squash ravioli with crab and it was surprisingly good. Although it could have used a lot less butter. But what would Julia say!

                      2. re: steve_in_stpaul

                        Never had Ethiopian before I tried it at Fasika and I have to say that I've been dying to go back as well as try even more places. Mmm!

                        1. re: Bill Roehl

                          Fasika is my fav restaurant. I haven't been in ages as I've not the funds and don't enjoy eating alone all that much - it is so much more fun to get into the moment when you have someone to chew the fat with...

                          I'm glad you enjoyed it. Took me awhile to get over the clammy, dead flesh like feel of the injera... I love Fasika. Vastly uncommented on and appreciated. Fabulous food.

                          1. re: green56

                            Fasika is especially fun with a group, so you can order a bunch of things and share everything with the injera bread.

                            1. re: green56

                              oh green56! I will not be able to eat injera without thinking of flabby dead flesh now! thanks a lot! :)

                              That aside, I do love Ethiopian food, and Fasika has always been very good.

                      3. I always wanted to try Biaggio. Will put it on the 'play list' for sure.

                        1. Senor Wongs, great fusion food with a fun bar (creative drinks, decent wine/beer list) in a great space in DT St Paul. Never seems busy. If this place were in Uptown it would be packed!
                          Rainbow Chinese...Chowhound seems to focus on the Teahouse/Grand Sch. debate.
                          Agree on Cafe Biaggio, have always had a good meal there...its sort of in the forgotten land between cities there on University.
                          Birchwood Cafe, reliable and wholesome. A neighborhood classic that I wish was in my neighborhood.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: run2eat

                            I agree with Birchwood. They have always been our favorite-especially since they hosted our wedding brunch for 15 with three days notice (we didn't have much notice ourself-we decided to get married pretty quickly!!) My favorite from there is the boysenberry cobbler.

                            Birchwood Cafe
                            3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                          2. Obento-ya. Some of the best non-sushi in the city at a great price. It is my go to lunch place with friends. And they have really good, properly brewed green tea.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: churchka

                              Brasa. Having living in the south, it is rare to find good pulled port. This is a good as any i've ever had

                            2. Cowboy Jacks
                              4120 Berkshire Ln N, Plymouth, MN 55446

                              everything is home made love the pizza and ribs *all beef on bone* and they look like something out of the Flinstones they are so big...... Throw the peanut shells on the floor you can get them from a big barrel when you come in the door. In the summer drink out doors and has a bar window just for patio.. Great place and dancing on Sats I think.

                              1. I'll echo some of the posts: Shish is terrific. Shish's breakfast is underrated, for sure. Obento-ya for the price is unbelievable.

                                Restaurante el Huachi at Mercado Central--the seafood soup is a fantastic value.

                                A very unheard of restaurant: Bangkok Market in North MInneapolis (not the one in St. Paul), off of Lyndale and Lowry. Very rarely do people get to the Hawthorne neighborhood but this place is great.

                                Even though people have given Ngon love, I am consistently amazed at its food.

                                1. For me, I think it'd be Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque in Stillwater. I wouldn't say everything on the menu is to die for (I wouldn't order the sugar cane skewered shrimp again), but most of it is. Love the fritters, the pulled pork, the sweet potatoes are to die for and the key lime pie is super yummy!

                                  1. Biaggio is a solid choice. Great lunch spot.

                                    I'll beat my obligatory gong for Bahn Thai in New Hope.

                                    I've said a couple of times that Zelo isn't appreciated enough for changing downtown dining, though it has allowed other places to catch up.

                                    Erte and Duplex don't get the mentions here they probably deserve. I think people take the former for granted, and many have yet to discover the latter. Plus, both operate at a particularly competitive price point,.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kevin47

                                      I got a groupon to Duplex recently after a co-worker raved about it. Looking forward to getting there one of these days, finally!

                                      1. re: kevin47

                                        Zelo is an excellent mention - very easy to forget about it - but its a crowd pleaser......

                                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                                          Zelo's compatriot, Bacio in Minnetonka is another that gets little mention. It seems a tad more upscale to me than Zelo though they are very similar in quality. That may because I've only gone to dinner at Bacio and many times to lunch at Zelo's.

                                      2. Enjoy! - I am the only person I know who has been to this place.

                                        Obento Ya- maybe not super obscure, but definitely blows any other sushi joint out of the ocean.

                                        Golden Nugget - Standard 'burb joint, but with some surprisingly great dishes.

                                        Volnay - Had my first trip there today. It's in Wayzata, so I'm not too surprised it isn't well known, but it should be. Quaint, lovely, affordable and the Bochee a la Reine was delicious!

                                        Casablanca - I asked around about this place tirelessly before I visited it, and got maybe 1 response. My visit there was a collection of misses, and some total hits. The ambience is very nice and modern, but it's the insane variety of food that will keep me going back.

                                        I must say, there isn't a great variety of places I've NEVER heard of in this thread. Bacio? BRASA?? Easy to find a number of write ups on all these places. Then again, I'm sure I'm just a pig. :-)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: greenidentity

                                          Volnay in Wayzata has piqued my curiosity. I was a fan of Chez Foley in that same space because the atmosphere was absolutely just right. Does Volnay still convey that?

                                          1. re: Davydd

                                            I can't say, as I have never been to Chez Foley. I would not say Volnay is completely French (they have a chicken ranch wrap there?!?!) but they do boast 2 chefs from Brittney, and it is quite quaint and lovely.

                                            1. re: greenidentity

                                              Chez Foley was very French (to me having never been to France) and had a live entertainment piano player during the dinner hours. The decor was rustic. They may have over done it with the rooster sculptures and paintings. :)

                                        2. Mr. Barbecue. Columbia Heights. On Central Avenue. Next door to a freaking McDonald's.

                                          It's fairly new, opening last fall, but from the street it looks like a run down chain. But it's a real family-owned BBQ place, with its own smoker. All the sauces and sides are made from scratch with original recipes. Their barbecue is good to great. They do mostly pork, but also beef ribs and whole chickens. Their other specialty is chicken wings.

                                          I love everything I've ever tried there. I almost feel guilty mentioning it because the outer image is truly awful. But like most BBQ places, the proof is in the eating.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: dougrw

                                            Given the title of the thread, the following was bound to happen eventually. Apologies in advance for the upcoming rant (especially to you dougrw):

                                            Why the HECK haven't you brought this place to the board's attention before!?!??!

                                            I guess this whole thing is a great reminder to get the word out on your favorite places. If "nobody talks about" a place you love, grab the reigns and be the champion. It could very well be it's the difference between your favorite place living or dying (see: Ronin in Lakeville).

                                            1. re: MSPD

                                              Ahem... In my defense I have meant to, but never quite got around to it. This thread prompted me to finally speak up. Maybe it should be one we kick off every month. ;-)

                                              (Also, the place is doing pretty great regular business, so I didn't see imminent failure as a danger.)

                                              1. re: dougrw

                                                Well since I'm not ranting any more, thanks for the heads up. I intend to get up there ASAP.

                                                Along those lines, a new BBQ place just opened in north Burnsville (Cliff Road, between Cedar Ave and Highway 13) called the Rack Shack. It only opened a few days ago, but it's really promising. It's not going to compete with southern BBQ joints or even Big Daddy in St. Paul, but it seems to be a good addition to the south metro scene. Once I'm comfortable that I have a good feel for it and they've had a chance to be open a while, I'll send up a full "report". If you live down here, or are in that area, I'd encourage you to check it out.

                                              2. re: MSPD

                                                If the parking lot is any indication, I doubt Mr. BBQ will be dying any time soon.

                                            2. Mine's Que Nha on University in St. Paul. There's not much atmosphere, but there's delicious Vietnamese food at reasonable prices. The menu is quite large; there's something for everyone. I haven't tried their pho yet, but their rice dishes are delicious. I think I remember their spring rolls having tripe in them. That's something I've never encountered before, but perhaps I'm not well versed in the spring roll area :)

                                              1. Himalayan Restaurant--I eat here at least once a week. They have the best palak paneer in the cities (IMO) and the momos are out of this world.

                                                I second ksioux's rec for Singapore and their delicious curries. A neighborhood gem that I wish more people knew about.

                                                Tacqueria Hacienda and Tacqueria los Ocampo get all the attention, but I think Gorditas el Gordo, right down the street, is pretty awesome too. I could eat a dozen of their empanadas.

                                                Cosmos is one of the best restaurants in town--delicous and innovative food, gorgeous space, great service--but when someone on the board asks for a high-end rec, I always seem to hear the same names--LBV, Meritage, Alma. Where's the Cosmos love?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: drew13000

                                                  I completely agree about Cosmos. We've been twice for dinner and at least four times for lunch and have never been disappointed. The service is absolutely impeccable and I'll always remember how they made me an alternative to the raw tuna amuse bouche when I was pregnant without me even saying a word. I wish more people knew about it, I've been there too many times when the dining room was less than half full. Maybe people hesitate because it's not on street level/it's in a hotel?

                                                  Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Himalayan, I love both momos and palak paneer. I see a visit there soon for us.

                                                  1. re: drew13000

                                                    Here here to Gordita el Gordo!

                                                    Best huaraches on Lake Street.

                                                    1. re: drew13000

                                                      Himalayan Restaurant is amazing. I loved the food and the atmosphere.

                                                    2. Victory 44 by a mile.

                                                      The tasting menu I had a few weeks back was one of the most delicious, creative and fun meals I've ever had in MSP. And at $30, it has the be the best deal in town right now.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: BigE

                                                        V 44 , has it all going just right.

                                                      2. Phil's Tara Hideaway in Stillwater. Phenomenal steaks and seafood by a very talented chef (Brad Nordeen). The place is ALWAYS busy. I've probably eaten there more than 30 times (we live nearby), and I can honestly say I've never had a bad meal there. Their steaks are as good as you will find in the Twin Cities. Always perfect temperature, and he knows how to rest them before they're served, so no bloody puddles.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: HuaGung

                                                          Phil's is great although anytime I mention that I came down from the cities, people there ask me not to tell anyone- they want to keep it their little secret, haha.

                                                        2. Zakia Deli, on Stinson Ave NE. To me, easily the best middle eastern in town (and I live right by Holy Land!). Their falafel sandwich blows everyone else's away.

                                                          1. I guess it kind of surprised me that the Farmington Steakhouse isn't more prevalent on these boards - it's kind of what I'd assume was the definition of a Chow-type restaurant - good food, very reasonable prices - maybe a little lacking in "refinement", but making up for it with friendly, treat-you-like-family service. They don't have a website, but here's a pretty thorough Facebook page:


                                                            The steaks are - interesting. It probably won't be the best steak you'll ever get, but I bet it'll be the best $6-7 steak you'll ever get. The "10 oz" ribeye - usually weighing in at more like a pound, in my experience, is around $6.50 (last time I was there) Thurs-Sun (there are different specials each day) and includes a bowl of soup or a salad and a baked potato and freshly-grilled garlic toast. Even better are the pork chops - three big ones, grilled with lemon/garlic/herb seasoning (owners are Greek). Same seasoning on the grilled chicken breast. Great gyros, also. And fresh-cut fries, in enormous portions. And fried chicken.

                                                            Everything is cooked as you watch - kind of a cafeteria-style line, with grills behind the counter. It's similar to the "Best" steakhouses scattered throughout the metro, but even less expensive, and even friendlier. Kids can eat a burger or chicken nuggets and fries for about $2.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: greghoffman

                                                              Love the Farmington steakhouse. Went there last summer after playing golf all day and I was starving. I figured for $8 (or whatever it was), I wouldn't get anywhere near filled up but I was wrong. For the price, this place is impossible to beat. Don't expect a Manny's or Clancey's cut of steak here, but expect a damn good meal for under $10.

                                                              1. Barbary Fig on Grand Ave. The rabbit and fish specials are among the best single dishes in the Twin Cities.

                                                                Calorie buster for sure, but the Italian Beef with melted cheese and hot peppers at Chris and Rob's is awesome.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Michael Florey

                                                                  Totally forgot about Barbary Fig. Love that place!

                                                                  Barbary Fig
                                                                  720 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                                                                2. Cave Vin - I love the food there.

                                                                  1. Satay's to Go in Apple Valley. The owner is a love, and she prepares foods that you find in the markets of Asia. She's always traveling back home to find new things.

                                                                    Apple Valley was a wasteland when it came to good food, but it's improving. I love Ole Piper Pizza (free popcorn!) and my daughter loves Remy's, a Mediterranean Cuisine place just south of 42.

                                                                    I know we're not trendy like you city-folk : ), but give us some time. Some interesting things are happening.

                                                                    1. Cafe 128. That pork adobo dish rocks.

                                                                      1. Gopher Bar & Grill. For the Coneys.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: green56

                                                                          There was an interesting article about that place recently - it matches my one brief experience there pretty well.


                                                                          (Note: PG-13 for strong language)

                                                                        2. El Meson, on Lyndale at 35th street. I LOVE the Bistec Encebollado and the key lime pie!

                                                                          El Meson
                                                                          3450 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                          1. Went to W. A. Frosts in St Paul. I got a groupon so i could try it.

                                                                            I love the dim lights. oil paintings and fire place. The up-scale service and food. It was a great all around expierance. I had the quail wrapped in bacon, was a little salty for me. Friend had sword fish it was great. They give you fresh bread and a soft cheese at every table, loved it.
                                                                            Had had a cheese plate and it was great with a rapberry puree. Desert was perfect they have small portions for 3.00 had the creme brulee. was great. So, it was a hit and miss. Mostly a hit

                                                                            Again, I've only been there one time.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: sweetkim

                                                                              I also went to W. A. Frost for the first time on the back of a Groupon.

                                                                              The first time I took my mother. I had an incredible Tofu dish, it was crusted with phyllo dough strands and served on baby bok choi and mushrooms in broth. My mom had the small plate of rutabaga gnocchi with panchetta and a pear, goat cheese, date, and walnut salad. We shared the dessert sampler plate.

                                                                              The second time I had the portabello mushroom sandwich with fries. My friend had the trio of MN pork. I had the full portion of carrot cake for dessert, my friend had the bread pudding.

                                                                              The mini-desserts, alone, really don't seem like much. The full portion (still smallish, but executed beyond any dessert I'd ever had) are a better overall value.

                                                                              Both times I ate in the bar area. The first trip my service was exceptional, I was well attended to but it wasn't overly fussy / forced. The second trip I was a bit disappointed, ordered a drink "neat", got "rocks", on the bill I was charged for the more expensive of the two examples of the brand name I asked about, bill was adjusted down upon receipt.

                                                                              Really excited about going back, waiting for a new menu at the moment. Being a vegetarian, and although it was the best tofu dish I've ever had, I like a little variety.

                                                                              1. I have a few places that I enjoy a lot in different locations across town. Forgive my spelling issues.
                                                                                1. Chindian (Chinese+Indian) Cafe is so wonderful! Everything I've had here has made this my favorite take-out.
                                                                                2. Monterrey's in the North Metro has this pollo fundido that is fantastic!
                                                                                3. There is another wonderful Asian place but I cannot remember the name. It is in Brooklyn Park, in a strip mall and next to Gold's Gym.
                                                                                4. Breadsmith Bakery is really very, VERY good. I prefer the breads here over all of the top-rated bakerys.
                                                                                5. Sea Salt is seasonal but such a fun place.
                                                                                6. Not sure what it is, the food is just ok but I really enjoy Cossetta's in St. Paul.
                                                                                7. Delmonico's Italian Grocery in NE Mpls has to die for housemade product for home.

                                                                                I could go on, and on. Have a great day, k?

                                                                                3939 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55424

                                                                                Chindian Cafe
                                                                                1500 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: savvyguy

                                                                                  Chindian rocks. It's really good.

                                                                                  Chindian Cafe
                                                                                  1500 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                2. jasmine 26 on eat street. delicious vietnamese food, excellent cocktails, astoundingly affordable. it is my go-to place for a later-night happy hour.

                                                                                  1. I have to say that Butter Bakery and Cafe on Grand Ave. has pretty awesome breakfast/brunch. The migas are amazing!!! And their turkey sandwiches are made with real roast turkey, all made in house.

                                                                                    1. Victor's for breakfast! If I could eat one food for the rest of my life, it would probably be their corn pancakes. Cutest little Cuban breakfast place ever I'm pretty sure.

                                                                                      Note: I've honestly only been here twice, but I was extrememly impressed by Eli's down by Loring Park. Their menu seems to change daily, but it's very unique with excellent combinations of flavors.

                                                                                      Another note: Not sure if this is allowed, but number one on my list for good, cheap bar food and an excellent atmosphere is Bullwinkles. I love that place dearly.

                                                                                      1. Khyber Pass!! Grand and Snelling in St. Paul.

                                                                                        Khyber Pass Cafe
                                                                                        1571 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                                                                                        Snelling Cafe
                                                                                        638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104