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Mar 15, 2011 05:14 PM

one night in MSP

Father and son have one night in the MSP area on our way to see a local college in Northfield, MN
Best if it's convenient to airport or central city or something not too far a field.
We're both foodies and would love a dinner idea - anything good and local.
Local attitude and 'flavor' is always best! Does not need to be fancy.
We're into it all, Chinese, noodles, Thai, seafood, Italian, traditional American heartland
Thought I'd ask others who know more than I.
thank you much

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  1. I think Hell's Kitchen (although downtown, an easy light rail ride from the airport). We always have to go there when we visit. Be sure to get their toasted sausage bread with their fabulous house-made peanut butter and jams.

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      thanks much - that sounds like a fun place - great that you mentioned it's light-rail close (20 min.?)

      1. re: dougdude

        You are most welcome! I love going there - deffinitely different with good food! I would make reservations if you go. I just made reservations for the weekend brunch for when I will be visiting in May.
        Under HK's website, under the Hours/Map/Parking tab, they have these instructions for the light rail: LIGHT RAIL: Take the Hiawatha line to the Nicollet Mall Station and walk south (four blocks) to 9th St. along Nicollet Mall.
        You can go here to plan which light rail to take at what time. From what I saw, it takes about 25 minutes.
        If you love their food, they sell the cookbook and ALL the recipes are in there. I made their peanut butter for Xmas gifts to rave reviews!
        If you come in later, they have happy hour as well which we went to when I was there in Nov after attending the Vikings/Arizona game (remember that one??!!). It was really good.

    2. I always recommend Lucia's. Mainly local/organic, imaginative but not crazy, great desserts. A shining star for 26 years.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sandylc

        That looks like a nice spot. There's a reason why Italian is one of the world's greatest cuisines. (I recently ate a Bosnian place and was reminded why Bosnian is not...)

        1. re: dougdude

          welcome to msp. fyi, lucia's is *not* italian, it's a local-foods restaurant that has operated for almost 20 years now. chef is lucia watson (see her cookbook, savoring the seasons of the northern heartland). the small menu changes weekly and the food is solidly well executed midwestern-influenced from small local farms. it is in the uptown area, which may be "afield" depending on where you are planning to visit. i would rec lucia's highly, but for a "one night" visit, not as highly as alma (NE mpls) or heartland (lowertown st paul), both of which are also excellent local foods restaruants. in downtown mpls, saffron is a great rec, and since you seem to love italian food, you dudes may have a blast at bar la grassa. all of these restaurants are fine/semi-fine, run by best respected/awarded local chefs, but prob won't break the bank. encourage you to check out menus online.

          northfield is a cute town with great academic colleges but unfortunately it stinks of the malt-o-meal plant there. you will, uh, sense what i mean when you arrive, particularly if the wind direction is unfavorable. however the last time i visited i actually had a nice meal at the indian restaurant in town there-- just in case you are looking for a northfield rec.

          Lucia's Restaurant
          1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          1806 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

          1. re: soupkitten

            Good info from soupkitten. Alma is really amazing - we were there a few weeks ago. Lucia's has actually been in business for....26 years! They opened 6 months before we were married and have been freshly reliable ever since.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Just to expand: there are two Indian restaurants in Northfield. Chapati is downtown in the Archer House Hotel, very centrally located. Kurry Kabab is south of downtown, along Highway 3, but not far at all. Both are good, but I prefer Kurry Kabab, as it is a bit lighter and less greasy. Chapati has the advantage of being in walking distance of one College (Carleton).

              Kurry Kabab
              2018 Jefferson Rd, Northfield, MN 55057

              Archer House
              212 Division St S, Northfield, MN 55057

        2. My go-to rec is Restaurant Alma. The chef, Alex Roberts, was a James Beard award winner last year.... the food is always excellent, in a very relaxed environment. A delightful experience all around, and very Minnesotan.

          Restaurant Alma
          528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          2 Replies
          1. re: mtullius

            Wow - thank you all three.
            Those are three very different rec's!
            I tend to think that for us, Hells kitchen or Lucia's might be more the ticket.
            thank you all - Chowhound is a great thing...

            1. re: dougdude

              FYI on Hell's Kitchen. They are known for their breakfast dishes, and nothing else. They serve breakfast all day, and it is tasty.

              Lucias is in Uptown, which will require you to navigate south from the city center by car. Certainly worth the trip though.

              Just off downtown (a long walk or short cab ride, depending), you'll find Saffron, 112 Eatery, and Bar La Grassa. If you can't make it to Lucias, do consider a visit to one of those if you are staying downtown.

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

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

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

          2. Father/Son,

            I'm not too far removed from your age situation as my son graduated 2 years ago (24 now). Carlton or St. O. are great, but not in food terms.

            Brunch on Sunday - Al Vento

            Local Burger fun -
            The Nook is still closed (Fire) so go to the Shamrock (Lodge Burger) or Blue Door Pub (any Jucy or take a chance on the Jiffy Burger) in St. Paul or try a Jucy Lucy at Matt's in Minneapolis. Not high brow, but good and fun.

            Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) or Pho -
            Head down University Ave. in St. Paul. Hopefully, Saigon will be open but check this board for lots or recommendations.

            Something to talk about at home -
            How about Nepali /Tibetan cuisine? Everest on Grand is good food you may have never had before. Momos, yak, curries, ask for hot to mild.

            Steak -
            We have great steaks, but so does just about every city in the country.

            Also, we can likely give you great ideas for other Asian, Latin, Veg., Seafood, etc. places if you can explain what will make your trip special.

            Folks in Portland have been great whenever I've visited, so don't be bashful. We like to help.

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

            Al Vento
            5001 34th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            12 Replies
            1. re: RGT

              RGT - which restaurant would you say has the best Jucy Lucy?

              Since you are referring places in St Paul, how about delicious Ethiopian? We had a fantastic meal at Fasika last year.

              1. re: WildSwede

                I have a very good friend who is Ethiopian and we usually go to Fasika. However, I must admit when he comes along things get quite a bit a bit hotter. (Don't tell anyone, but Ive watched as he has given a bag of goodies to some friends there. Evidently, whenever someone returns from a trip home they come back with a suitcase full of spices, etc.)

                1. re: RGT

                  Yeah, they usually "white" stuff down when I go to Ethipoian places here (even though I tell them I love spicy). What I love about Fasika (and my favorite, Merkato, here at home) is that they have shakers of Mitmita on the tables (most Ethiopian places I have been to do not). I make myself a paste of Mitmita, lemon juice and salt (ask them for lemons) and dip my Injera into it before taking a bite. Makes it nice and spicy!! ;-)

                2. re: WildSwede

                  Best special Stuffed burger is at the Blue Door - tiny place but big tastes. Blue cheese/Garlic Blucy is great. Lots of other choices. (However, as weird as it sounds their Jiffy Burger is a go-to staple of mine lately.) Best classic Juicy( or Jucy ) Lucy until the Nook opens is Matt's. Heck, Matt's may always be the best, but I need the Nook to reopen so I can be objective.

                  1. re: RGT

                    I hate to say it, but I find the burgers at BDP inedbile. Have tried it 3-4 times and it never gets any better. I love the hospitality there, but the burgers are lousy. The tots are awesome.

                    If you're in St. Paul and need a jucy lucy, I'd recommend Shamrocks (even though it's not the same as the Nook's, but the Nook ain't an option right). But, really, just go to Meritage and get the burger there.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I'd like to second the props for the Meritage burger. I'm not sure why it doesn't get more buzz here or elsewhere-- I think it's the best one I've had.

                      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Sorry to hear you had such bad experiences at the Blue Door. I have to admit that I've cut back going there because the wait is usually too long.

                        I too miss the Nook and now go to Shamrock's for my Lodge burger.

                        As I've said before, the Blue Door's Jiffy Burger and Cajun tots is strange, but good for a casual stop with he guys.

                        Still love Matt's for a Jucy Lucy.

                        Never thought to compare them to the $12.50 burger at Meritage. Different type of experience and venue.

                        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                        1. re: RGT

                          No comparison to Meritage for the burger, really, except that Meritage's burger is amazing and BDP's burgers are inedible because they are consistently so grease-logged (bun soaked through) and the interior is often so undercooked to the point of being almost raw. But, yes, Meritage is an upscale brasserie experience and BDP is a neighborhood bar experience. Both have great hospitality. BDP also has a nice beer list, and great tots. Too bad the burgers aren't good.


                          410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                    2. re: WildSwede

                      Our new go-to place for Ethiopian is Flamingo, at University and Syndicate. Really fresh high-quality ingredients and delightful proprietors. It's the best we've had in the TCs.

                      1. re: mtullius

                        Have you been to Fasika? And you think it is better? Hmmm, I will have to try it. Thanks!

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          by the way, Lucia's is not Italian food....seemed like the op was thinking that from the comment above. It's a mix of various influences but always done well and not too far out in the foamy foofy realm. more classic. I recommend it. Also had some great food at Flamingo and not so great one time, I'd say to try it.

                    3. I would suggest skipping all the other suggestions and make a night of it . Saffron for Happy Hour(Lamb BLTs) and then on to Gorhka for dinner. Or Gorhka for Happy Hour(Mo Mo's mutton) and then on to Saffron for dinner. You will NOT be disappointed.

                      Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
                      123 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ibew292

                        You'd skip all of the above suggestions for Gorhka? I've had the momos, and they're tasty, but I wouldn't cancel plans to visit elsewhere.

                        Wouldn't dissuade anyone from visiting Saffron, though.

                        1. re: kevin47

                          I have a confession to make - sheepishly. Now that my request sparked this wonderful outpouring of advise and suggestions, we're not coming to MSP. Not yet anyway. My son still hopes to attend Carlton and now I do too, so I can visit MSP and try some of the spots that you all have suggested! Thank you all.

                          I never would have thought to enjoy Ethiopian while in Minnesota!
                          But I look forward to it - Doug

                          1. re: dougdude

                            Don't worry, it's not a problem. Hopefully the advice will help you when you do come back and visit, and in the meantime, it has already helped others - including me! :)

                            1. re: nsxtasy

                              Excellent. Makes me think I ought to dive into my local boards about Portland, OR!

                          2. re: kevin47

                            I've been to most of the other places mentioned numerous times, but Gorkha Palace remains our favorite for a variety of reasons: quality and consistency of food, lovely ambiance, wonderful and hospitable owners, restaurant's philosophy, and addictive palak paneer. So I understand ibew292's recommendation.

                            Gorkha Palace
                            23 4th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55414