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Apr 7, 2010 05:28 AM


my fiance and i are headed to minneapolis later this month and we've heard brasa is a good restaurant. we're staying at the chambers, so if brasa isn't good, we'd love suggestions for great restaurants that aren't too far of a drive.

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  1. Brasa is probably our favorite casual eating place in the TCs (though we go almost exclusively to the larger St. Paul location nowadays). Everything on the menu is great, and it's food you can feel good about (the meat is all local and sustainably raised). The only downside to the Mpls location is its size: it is tiny and often full. And loud. But if the weather's nice, the outdoor seating helps increase capacity a bit....

    1. There are few, if any, places at that price point that are better. Some haters exist (mostly due to expectations that the restaurant is quick-serve), but it's almost universally loved in the neighborhood.

      Expect laid-back service, local food, a wait for a table, and especially if the patio is open: a leisurely pace. Have a glass of cava and enjoy the smells.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Foureyes137

        To address another post further down: my southern food cred is 14 years in Texas, brother lives in Georgia...we take road trips between the two states regularly and into SW Texas BBQ country and up to NC from Savannah. I know southern food and while there are elements of southern cooking in Brasa's food, that's not really what it's trying to do (main + 2). They don't have good Greek food either.

        The grits aren't hominy, but they are delicious provided you're not expecting traditional southern hominy grits. Do not miss then.

        1. re: Foureyes137

          Brasa's website in bold says that there food is inspired by the wholesome home cooking found throughout North America, the Caribbean and South America. To me, that is a good characterization of the kinds of food you find in the variety of different types of BBQ's in the south or the roast meats in CA. We can disagree on the grits. A number of people whom I have been to Brasa with also thought they were terrible. Very runny with bland flavor. To each his own.

          I just think it is not that distinctive and Vietnamese in MN is.

          1. re: danfromsf

            I suppose it depends on where they're coming from. I know we all like to think MSP has cornered the market on authentic cheap Vietnamese joints...but your handle seems to imply you come from a place that proves that sensiblity wrong...

            I've not had the runny grits. I eat at Brasa twice a month. Perhaps your luck will change!

            1. re: Foureyes137

              I think the Vietnamese is equal to or better in MN than CA. I think that places like the Slanted Door are more exciting than Ngon but that is really fusion so over all, I think places on Eat Street or Saigon are wonderful and very affordable.

      2. Definitely give Brasa a shot. Like others said, capacity can be an issue during normal meal hours, so go earlier or later if possible.

        Otherwise, you are in the heart of downtown Minneapolis and within driving distance of many good restaurants. If you'd like recommendations on that front, give us some guidance in terms of budget, cuisine type, etc and we'll be more than happy to help. :)

        5 Replies
        1. re: BigE

          i know i am more of a foodie than my fiance (scott) but he's turning, i can feel it. we love ethnic cuisine such as thai, japanese and indian and i lived in paris for a spell, so french food has a place in my heart. i love anything from bistro and brasserie food to high-end restaurant food. we love new american cuisine as well. we both eat meat, but it's not a must in our eyes in terms of a great meal.
          if brasa is casual in terms of dress (nice pants/blouse/skirt) then if possible, we'd like a suggestion for a place where fancier dress is necessary. is the restaurant in the chambers hotel decent?
          and let me change something i'd written in my original post. it's fine if the restaurant is more than a short drive away. if the food is exceptional, it's worth the drive.
          we're going to be in MSP for the annual ART-O-MAT get-together. my fiance is an artist and we'll also be stopping by the walker (as we do each time we're in minneapolis).
          thanks for all your suggestions!

          1. re: atticaster

            Chambers is the home of the revamped high-end D'Amico restaurant called, imaginatively, D'Amico Kitchen at the Chambers. I've eaten there once for lunch and it was fairly good. It is generally well-reviewed and has solid - if not especially adventurous - food with an Italian emphasis.

            D'Amico Kitchen
            901 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            1. re: atticaster

              Brasa is 100% casual. Next time I go there, I'll be wearing shorts and sandals.

              The restaurant in Chambers (D'Amico Kitchen) is a long established name here and the flagship has always been quite good, from what I've read. This version has gotten some mixed reviews, but the negatives may have been due to the early jitters they faced a year or so back. I've not been there, so I will leave the full reviews for others who have.

              If you want higher end, my short list (with a short drive/walk) would include:

              Vincent - Very good French restaurant ~5 blocks away from Chambers. White table cloth.

              112 - Consistently the most busy restaurant in MSP. Get a reservation if you'd like to go. More casual than Vincent.

              Saffron - Excellent middle eastern fare (the head chef was just on Iron Chef America). Across the street from 112. Also more fancy, but certainly not coat and tie required.

              Alma - A 5-10 minute drive across the river brings you to my favorite restaurant in town. 3 courses for $45, very much worth it. Fancier dress.

              Bar La Grassa - New Italian restaurant by the Isaac Becker, owner and head chef of 112 (and multi-time Beard award nominee). This place is just as busy as 112, so I would suggest a reservation. The food is outstanding and is served in a way that you two can sample 3-4 dishes. Casual dress.

              If you want a real blowout, La Belle Vie is the best of the best. Local super chef (and 2009 James Beard best chef midwest winning) Tim McKee's flagship serves an 8 course tasting menu that is the most exquisite dining experience in town. And if you're at the Walker, La Belle Vie is no more than 2 blocks away. Definite white table cloth/fancy clothes kind of place.

              Also in the Walker is 20.21, the local outpost of Wolfgang Puck. It seems to get very good reviews.

              Most of our best ethnic food is just south of downtown on Nicollet Ave (AKA Eat Street). However, my knowledge base on that area is nil, so I'll let the other fills in.

              I hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions. :)

              La Belle Vie
              510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

              Bar La Grassa
              800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

              1. re: atticaster

                atticaster -- an idea for you to combine the art and chow would be to stop in One on One Bike for coffee or a snack. It's right around the corner from 112 Eatery and Saffron, and just down the street from Bar La Grassa. Even if you're not into cycling, it's a neat place with good coffee, lunch-type food, etc. and some great visual interest.


                112 Eatery
                112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                Bar La Grassa
                800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                1. re: atticaster

                  Not sure how much time you have for food-related endeavors, but I would urge you to take in a cocktail and a snack at Bradstreet Crafthouse in the Graves Hotel. Definitely upscale, with amazing cocktails. They are open, with full menu, until 2a, so you'll have plenty of time to catch one or more of the other recos on this thread.

              2. It really depends where you are from. If you have regular access to BBQ or good southern cooking, I would skip Brasa and focus on Vietnamese for casual food in MSP. I know Brasa is loved in the twin cities, but having had great BBQ in the south and Mexican roast meets in CA, I think it is average on a national scale. High quality ingredients but I have had dry chicken and OK pork. The grits are terrible.

                1. Jfood loves brasa and would definitely put it on your list, with some caveats. Jfood completely recommends the three sadwiches at Brasa . They are probably some of the best sandwiches jfood has eaten. Because the bar is set so high with the sandwiches the sides just do not live up to the perfectness of the sandwiches. They are OK to good. Now the head's up and others will chime in with heated disagreement. Jfood has ordered the roated chicken four time and all four times it was vastly overcooked and dry. Others may have had better luck but jfood has tried way more than he should have and the roasted chicken after 4 attempts is definitely on the DNR list.

                  Amazing that with dry chicken and OK-good sides jfood loves this place. Why? The people are great and those three sandwiches are so over the top fantastic he couldn;t care less about the chicken and sides.


                  9 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    I had the same experience with the chicken and will never order it again. I think it should be removed from the line up until they learn to cook it right. The sides were enjoyable. I will try the sandwiches because you say they are great and I seem to enjoy a lot of the places you write about. Keep up the posts as I am always looking for new places to try.

                    1. re: jfood

                      Thanks for the recommendation on the sandwiches. I am originally from NY and lived in CA for 15 years. Having seen what you have written and generally agreed with it, I am excited to try the sandwiches. I would be thrilled to find good sandwiches in the Twin Cities-now don't get me started about Bewitched or Broders. To be fair about my feelings about Brasa, I have never tried the sandwiches and haven't been back in a while. I did go 4 times so I feel like I tried it enough. Got the chicken all times so I am glad that others share my opinion. I thought the pork was ok but prefer pastor from places on Lake St. and the beef was too sweet for me. May be in sandwiches they would be better. Some of the sides were ok to good, but I really didn't like the grits. I do like Alma a lot.

                      1. re: danfromsf

                        if you find the meat a little dry use the green sauce, it is a fantastic way to add flavor and moisture. jfood agrees that they need to take a look at improving the sides.


                        1. re: jfood

                          Which sides have you had that you weren't impressed with? All the ones I've had I thought were good to great. My favorites are (pace danfromsf) the grits and the creamed spinach. My wife usually gets the plantains and the beans and rice. I've also had the collards and thought they were excellent....

                          1. re: mtullius

                            yams & andouille, cornbread, collards, grits were not to his liking
                            fried plaintains were OK
                            guac and chips were very good

                            And here is the one thing that was a bad upsell move as it left a bad taste in jfood's mouth. once when he called (a few months ago) he heard, "and the sandwiches come with 2 sides." That was on the dine-in menu, not the take-out (now the dine-in comes with 1 side).

                            BTW - jfood misses the banana pudding, after eating at Alma one night he went to Brasa for dessert.

                            1. re: jfood

                              The butterscotch pudding, in my opinion, is better than the banana. Also the new chocolate tort is amazing....

                              1. re: mtullius

                                jfood is typing this after some guac, a 1/2 pork sandwich and a 1/2 beef sandwich, followed by the butterscotch pudding. Now as he licks his lips of the pudding he has to agree with the butterscotch is actually better than the banana. The whipped cream by itself could be sweeter but when eaten with the pudding, fantastic

                                1. re: jfood

                                  I myself like whipped cream to be not-too-sweet so you taste the cream itself and not just sugar. On your recommendation I will be trying the butterscotch pudding. And the pork sandwich.

                                  1. re: karykat

                                    make sure you get some of the green sauce for the pork sandwich. The beef was a little dry tonight but the pork is a consistent 10.