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Visiting for 1 day...where to go eat?

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Hey CHers!

I'll be in Minneapolis for the first time, but its only one day, possibly 2 days if I am lucky. I'll be arriving on Sunday afternoon, and leaving Monday night unless I can extend it. I know, those are the worst days for dining.

I'll be escorting my younger sister for her dental school interview. Both her and I are alwayss busy with work and our own relationships, that us dining out together rarely happens. I'll do up to $150 per person for an upscale dinner, but I wouldn't mind a greasy spoon, or a place that screams Minneapolis either, but I do want one nice meal beit lunch or dinner.

Leaving in 2 weeks.

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  1. No doubt, Toronto. I'd make tracks for Bar Del Grasso. Great food. Great energy. Very smart place. Small plates leaning toward Italian. Great pasta, sausages, fish. Great bar. Great service. I'm not Tony the Tiger, but it's all great.

    1. Bar La Grassa (not Del Grasso) is a very popular choice, as is La Belle Vie. Both are open Sunday. The latter will approach your price point (it is the priciest restaurant in the cities). For either, make a reso ASAP.

      Do consider a Monday lunch at one of our excellent Vietnamese restaurants as well. Quang is open for lunch, and is my personal favorite.

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      La Belle Vie
      510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

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

      1. Hi Toronto, I suggest 112 Eatery in Mpls (http://www.112eatery.com/menu.htm). If you do go, have the escarole side, a must have whenever I go. Same chef as Bar la Grassa that Yahooer recommended, I have not been yet to La Grassa but hear great things!
        -V

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

        9 Replies
        1. re: VVA

          Is there a dish or sandwich that is unique to the cities?

          1. re: stonedtoronto

            Walleye- in sandwich form or not and some cheese curds. Or the Juicy Lucy was reportedly born here (burger stuffed with cheese). I am no expert on the origins, but can tell you my favorite place for these heart attack inducers is The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul they have very creative varieties, the Merriam Park Blucy with a side of fried green beans and a good craft beer, delish!

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

            1. re: stonedtoronto

              My answer to this is a resounding "NO!"

              There are a lot of threads on here about foods "unique to Minnesota" and the bottom line is that there is no defining signature food item here (the response of walleye is damning evidence, especially given that you're coming from Ontario).

              I recommend focusing on having outstanding meals. I will say that it's tough to make any specific recommendations since your parameters essentially include every single restaurant in the entire MSP metro area. Where, specfically, will you be and is there anything you are looking for?

              1. re: stonedtoronto

                Yes, there are two sandwiches that are pretty unique to the Twin Cities, it's just that they aren't really "signature" dishes and they are not universally beloved, which makes it hard to recommend that a visitor drive all over town for. If these sammies seem like "comfort food" to you or you just feel you must, they are:

                1) the jucy lucy (various spellings) which is a cheese stuffed burger. My favorite place for them is at the Nook in St.Paul: I get the Molitor Burger version. The fries are hand cut and the buns are bakery fresh from PJ Murphy's up the street. Mostly, though, it's a nice neighborhood bar where you rub elbows with the locals. My husband's favorite at the Nook is the Lodge Burger, which is not a juicy lucy. Blue Door Pub in St. Paul has many varieties of "lucys" but I find them all a big sloppy mess and not that good--overcooked, greasy. Nice local beer selection, good tots, and nice hospitality. Mostly for hipsters, rather than regular blue collar folks as at the Nook. Expect to wait at either place.

                2) hot dago sandwich (yeah, that's the name, controversy and all)--Italian sausage, marinara sauce, and mozz cheese. My fav is seasonally available at the Dari-Ette drive in in St. Paul. Or, year-round at DeGidios on West 7th in St. Paul.

                Other things that are "Minnesotan": wild rice (if you can get the hand-harvested, hand parched stuff). Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis has a wild rice breakfast porridge (very rich.) Also, honeycrisp apples were invented here (the season is over.) Morel mushrooms (not in season) are our state mushroom. You can get lefse at Cafe FInspang in Midtown Global Market. Also, lutefisk, but it's frozen, so, you'd have to prepare it in a kitchen yourself or take it home in a cooler and prepare it at home, assuming you can bring it into Canada with you. Pearson's salted nut rolls (candy bars) are made here in St. Paul--you can buy them at convenience stores and grocery stores. Lake Superior smoked trout is pretty awesome, but hard to get in the Twin Cities. I get mine at Lunds Grocery Store.

                If you listen to a lot of Garrison Keillor, you may be craving hot dish, which is something people eat at home, not out. It's not something I would consider to be the "best" we have to offer in terms of cuisine. Pearson's in Edina reportedly serves a wild rice hot dish, but they call it casserole. They also have lefse, Swedish meatballs, and walleye. http://www.pearsonsedinarestaurant.or... Some locations of Key's Cafe (it's a loose chain--different locations are owned and operated by different members of the family) also serve hotdish some days of the week.

                Walleye is beloved because sport fishing is big here. My favorite place for fried walleye or sunfish is at Fisher's Supper Club in Avon, but it's closed for the season.

                Pasties and porketta are a definite thing in MN, but I haven't really found them except on the iron range or in Duluth.

                We have the largest Somali population outside of Africa, if you want to try Somali food. We also have the largest urban Hmong population in the world if you want to check out some Hmong food. There are threads on these things, but if you're interested, speak up and we can jump in with more details.

                ~TDQ

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

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

                DeGidio's Restaurant & Bar
                425 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

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

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Hmong foods sounds interesting. I was actually born in laos, but I rarely get a chance to get southeast asian food. Any particular places you would recommend?

                  1. re: stonedtoronto

                    Oh, you must visit the food court at the Hmong Flea Market in St. Paul during the day on Monday (it's not that exciting at night, unfortunately.) Great papaya salad, sausage, soups, ribs, fried fish, tricolor dessert http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3183...

                    It's a fun place to just wander.

                    Here's MSPD's report on Destiny Cafe. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7333...

                    There's other great Southeast Asian food (Vietnamese), here in MN, too. Anthony Bourdain said we have some of the best Vietnamese food in the country (which I imagine was a bit of hyperbole, but, still he's a professional and I'm just one person on an internet message board. But, still, it must count for something!) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5817... Also, for Thai, Bangkok Thai Deli in St. Paul.

                    There's a new Hmong market opening in St. Paul next weekend. http://www.startribune.com/local/stpa...

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      stonedtoronto -- both the Hmong Marketplace and Destiny Cafe would likely result in very good meals. I have been back to both recently and had excellent food both times. In the Hmong Marketplace (which is like a food court), I've found that, in general, the stalls towards the left seem to be the better ones.

                      1. re: MSPD

                        I think I am set on at least one place. White Castle....I know, I know. It's worse than Taco Bell. I've once got a company to Fedex overnight some burgers for me in dry ice, lol. We clearly don't have them here. Destiny Cafe is also another I think I will have to go to. I've made hotel reservations, so it looks like we'll be staying at The Hilton Marquette Hotel. It's relatively close to her university. I was hoping with the hotel now settled, maybe that would narrow down some restaurant recommendations.

                        1. re: stonedtoronto

                          Well, since you're staying in downtown Minneapolis, just head north on Hennepin Avenue for a couple miles (across the river) and you'll hit a White Castle. On your way up there, you'll see Brasa on the right side -- lots of positive talk about Brasa on here (deservedly so in my opinion). If you hang a right onto 4th Street, you can have a finer-dining meal at Restaurant Alma (which would be a very nice meal highlighting seasonal/local/sustainable foods). Both Alma and Brasa are Alex Roberts' creations; he is a recent James Beard award winner for Best Chef Midwest (again, deservedly so in my opinion). Alma isn't stuffy/white tablecloth if you are concerned about that. It's an urban upscale atmosphere just off the U of M campus.

                          I'm going to assume there's a good chance you are looking at the U of M. If so, as you head east on Washington Avenue out of downtown towards the U, you'll curve right on Cedar Ave before turning left onto the Washington Ave bridge. Instead, you can stay going straight into the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. If you like dives, the Wienery is a real hole but has outstanding hot dogs, Polish sausage, Chicago dogs, etc. I recommend the Picnic Dog (baked beans and cole slaw), the Upsetter (wrapped in bacon, topped with egg), or anything with their chili (no beans). The fries will almost kill you, but they are outstanding. The Wienery also serves breakfast all day -- typical greasy spoon stuff.

                          If you go a bit farther, turn left on Franklin and check out the Seward Co-op and/or True Thai restaurant. This is very close to the U of M and will give you and your daughter a nice feel for a typical Minneapolis neighborhood and what the city has to offer (the Seward neighborhood).

                          Back into downtown Minneapolis, Saffron and Sea Change will offer some options that you may not find in Toronto. They aren't "unique to Minnesota" but are somewhat less common concepts (refined Mediterranean/Middle Eastern and sustainable seafood respectively). These are both closer to fine dining than dives.

                          Hope that helps -- on such a short trip, it'll be tough to do it all.

                          One other thing -- most grocery stores here stock White Castle sliders in the freezer case. The closest grocery store to downtown is the Lunds between your hotel and the U of M (go north on Hennepin, hang a right on 4th and you'll see it on the left). Several Lunds locations stock them but I don't know about this location for certain. 612-548-3820 if you want to call.

                          -----
                          Restaurant Alma
                          528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                          True Thai Restaurant
                          2627 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                          Wienery
                          414 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

                          Sea Change
                          806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

            2. BTW, in my view a jucy lucy is a miserable excuse for a hamburger. If I was having a hankering for one I would go to Meritage and have one there with grilled onions, and those incredible pomme frits with bernaise sauce.

              -----
              La Belle Vie
              510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

              Meritage
              410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              1. It sounds like you and your sister don't get a lot of time to share a meal together. So you probably want someplace where you can talk? If that's so, I'd think twice about Bar La Grassa or The Blue Door Pub because both are loud. If that's not a concern, go for it.

                But another choice where you would have exceptional food with a lot of local ingredients would be Restaurant Alma. Great service, you can hear yourself think, and wonderful food. Not fussy or formal but very nice. Close to downtown Minneapolis by cab.

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                Restaurant Alma
                528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

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

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

                1. You are getting some excellent suggestions. One that I would add, is Saffron. Not far from your hotel, across the street from the 112 Eatery. Some of the best of Mpls-St Paul is happening at Saffron IMO. Tasting menu ($35) add wine ($15) and you'll be very happy with this selection.

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

                  Mpls-St Paul
                  Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Maggie19

                    Not sure why the places link for Saffron didn't work in my post or Maggie's.

                    www.saffronmpls.com

                  2. Hey thanks for the replies everyone. I am on the plane now (wifi apparently on AirTran). I've narrowed it to 112 Eatery, Ngon Bistro, and the new Hmong market...I wanted one more, maybe another bistro...or even better...I don't think my sister has ever tried molecular gastronomy...are there any restos in MSP that tinker with it?

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: stonedtoronto

                      Victory 44 is a bistro that does molecular gastronomy, and is open from 11a on Monday. Service is ponderous during busy times. Travail is similar, and less ponderous, but closed Monday.

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                      Victory 44
                      2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN