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Aug 16, 2010 06:24 PM

Please Help Plan our MSP Foodie Weekend!

My bf and I will be spending two nights in the MSP soon, getting a much needed little breather from living in the middle of nowhere, Iowa (we're NYC / SF transplants...times are tough). Therefore, we will spend this vacation eating, and eating, and eating, and drinking.
Specifically, I'm looking for recommendations on (starred items are priorities):
- Best morning coffee *
- Best breakfast joints
- Cheap ethnic foods that we don't get in IA (Hmong, Somali, Viet, etc.)
- IF there is good sushi in MPS, good sushi
- Jewish food?
- Anywhere that pours local wine (Midwestern)
- Authentic fish fry? Fried smelt fry, specifically? My bf is way into smelt. He'd just about melt (ha!) if I took him to a smelt fry *
- Beer nerd beer bars
- Best beer / liquor store *
- Great cocktail bars (like old school cocktails, not 'tinis)
- Late night / street food
And of course anything you want to add... We're not, by any means, rich, though we are the kinds of people who spend the money we have on eating. So tips on happy hours, specials, free things, are much appreciated.
Also, any recs on getting around town late night if we've been drinking without paying for cabs? Probably staying downtown St. Paul...


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  1. - Best morning coffee * -

    Depending on what the asterisk implies, I'd go with Kopplins.

    - Best breakfast joints -

    Hell's Kitchen is my favorite.

    - Cheap ethnic foods that we don't get in IA (Hmong, Somali, Viet, etc.) -

    Quang Vietnamese. Cheap and delicious. Pho is good, but so are most of the dishes.

    - IF there is good sushi in MPS, good sushi -

    Nami is good. I wouldn't make sushi a primary point of emphasis. It is NOT cheap, though the happy hour is affordable.

    - Jewish food?

    You'll be hurting for restaurants. I'd feel terrible if you somehow wound up at Mort's. Any Byerly's, though, should have the fixins.

    - Authentic fish fry? Fried smelt fry, specifically? My bf is way into smelt. He'd just about melt (ha!) if I took him to a smelt fry *

    Will you be here on a Friday? Red Stag has a great fish fry menu, which includes smelt fries.

    - Beer nerd beer bars

    Happy Gnome and Muddy Pig. Only food I'd recommend from either are the wings at the Pig, though.

    - Best beer / liquor store *

    Surdyk's for the sheer volume of options. Zipps for a quirkier selection.

    - Great cocktail bars (like old school cocktails, not 'tinis)

    Bradstreet Crafthouse.

    - Late night / street food

    One of the Los Ocampo locations is open until 4a. That's about as well as you can expect to eat much later than midnight.

    Be sure to visit Midtown Global Market... There is a nice cheese shop, an outstanding bakery (salty tart), lots of great Mexican and free parking.

    Other cheap/ethnic places to try

    Jasmine Deli (great Banh Mi)
    Bangkok Thai Deli (very authentic, if somewhat erratic Thai
    Blue Door Pub (search the board for Jucy Lucy for more details)
    Lemongrass Thai (the most ambitious Thai in the cities, and a sausage dish worth the drive)

    As for transportation, I'm afraid I can't be helpful in that regard.

    Midtown Global Market
    920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

    Hell's Kitchen
    80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

    Jasmine Deli
    2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

    Muddy Pig
    162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    Happy Gnome
    498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    The Blue Door Pub
    1811 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

    3777 Park Center Blvd A, St Louis Park, MN

    251 1st Ave N Ste 100, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    1. Here are a few more ideas:

      J and S Bean Factory, St. Paul

      Beer store:
      Four Firkins, St. Louis Park. This is a bit out of the way, but I was quite impressed when I went for the first time last weekend.
      Also, I have not been, but there is a new beer store in St. Paul called the Ale Jail.

      Liquor store:
      I second the Surdyk's recommendation. (They also have a decent beer selection, but not on the same level as Four Firkins.)

      I second Bradstreet Crafthouse (they do have some happy hour specials depending on when you are coming). Also, I love the cocktails at La Belle Vie in Minneapolis and Strip Club Meat and Fish in St. Paul.

      La Belle Vie
      510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

      The Strip Club
      378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

      1. Nerd beer bar & ethnic eats combo!: Ngon Bistro!

        All local beers, usually something on cask too, which is nice. Great Vietnamese / French / American fusion food with local, sustainable, organic, etc. meats and produce. Not exactly cheap though. They do have a happy hour - $5 small plates, so that's something, 3-6pm Mon-Fri and 11am-5pm on Sat & Sun (although it says "drink specials only on the weekend, dunno what that means, exactly). Although I will say, I've never been for happy hour, we usually go for lunch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: turtlebella

          I would add that Ngon also pours a few local wines.


        2. Beer nerd bar:
          I would recommend Buster's on 28th. Not quite as extensive a tap list as the Gnome or the Pig, but plenty of very good beers to sample. And I would argue that this is the best pub food you'll find in the cities.

          Old school cocktails:
          Check out Haute Dish. It's gotten lots of pub lately for the food, but I got a big kick out of their cocktail list, as well. Same basic philosophy as the food menu - updated versions of what your grandpa used to drink.

          1. If you're staying in DT St. Paul, you're going to have a heckuva time getting around cheaply at night. There are city buses and the Light Rail, but they might be confusing to out of towners, as well as "sketchy", depending on destination.

            Luckily, DT St. P has a couple things going for it.

            Meritage is a fancy-pants French joint, but they have an affordable Brunch on the weekends (most dishes are $10 or so), and a special 3 course offering on Sundays for $26. I had a 5 course tasting menu there, worth every penny.

            Senor Wong is a Mexican / Asian fusion. Sounds weird, but it works. Mock duck tacos were really good, especially if you like spicy. Had a couple other apps, and 2 of the 3 were good. Their wontons are a really nice value, they are huge and tasty.

            There is also Heartland. Heartland is by no means cheap, but it is "foodie", and worth the visit. All local / organically sourced, menu changes daily, James Beard nominee, etc., etc. Their new location has a full bar, with a top local bartender (from what I've read, he was formerly at Town Talk Diner).

            There are also two sushi places in DTStP, Fuji-Ya and Origami. I frequent Fuji-Ya and haven't had a bad experience yet.

            A short bus ride / good walk from DTStP is W.A. Frost on Selby. Lovely patio, excellent bar, good food at reasonable (and not so) prices. A few blocks over is Grand Avenue which has a plethora of shops and eateries. You could just walk it and pop your head in a few places.

            Whatever you'd spend on a cab (I assume a good $20 for downtown to downtown, if not more), you could stay within walking distance of where you're staying and eat at two of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, Meritage and Heartland Restaurant. Might even save a few bucks overall.

            You should also keep an eye on daily deal sites for our area, there are usually top restaurant offerings once a week for 50% off.

            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            Senor Wong
            111 East Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55101

            2 Replies
            1. re: semanticantics

              Origami is in Mpls. The other sushi place in St Paul is Sakura. Both are good, neither is great, from my experience.

              Also, for cheap eats, don't forget Tanpopo in St Paul.