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4 nights in Minneapolis--got the basics, looking for input

Hi all,

Coming to town for four nights later this week, staying at the Hilton downtown. It's a conference thing, so I'm thinking breakfasts at Hell's Kitchen mainly and area lunches at La Loma Tamales/My Burger/Brothers Deli and while I guess it's sadly too early for the food trucks maybe I'll scope out a turkey sandwich from the Turkey To Go guy if he's set up in the food court near La Loma. That all seems to fill breakfast/lunch downtown comfortably, but if I'm missing something basic let me know.

For dinners, one day I want to get out and do the Mercado Central/Midtown Global markets thing and I'll probably eat at Los Ocampo and maybe grab an octopus taco or two from La Sirena Gorda. I also managed to stumble over the fact that I can get the local Spring Grove soda at some place in Midtown Global--any other specialties I maybe should look out for here?

One other early night is probably a trip to M.I.A. and then it seems like the Vietnamese spots for dinner, probably Pho Tau Bay or Quang's. I do love Vietnamese food too and this seems a real strength of your city, so I may even decide to go to both these places on separate nights. Seems to be good other options nearby, too.

I also feel like one day I'll go slightly north and eat at maybe 112 Eatery or bar Legrassa or some such slightly more upscale option. Those seem like good dinner choices fairly nearby. Or I may even cheap out and venture to sub in a fish fry dinner for this instead--I haven't done enough research yet to see if there's one of these near enough downtown to make that an attractive choice, but it seems like the time of year to check out this tradition.

Anyway, that's what I've got as basics so I think I've got myself in good shape. (and thanks for all the pointers--as always I found plenty of solid information here on chowhound to get me started). What I'm looking for is just any additional hints as to anything that's near to the area I've mentioned that's special enough to make it worth a side trip. I love anything local or classic, and though I'm mostly interested in less expensive options I'm open to anything from road food to haute cuisine. I also think maybe I'm weakest here in bakery/dessert, so if anything stands out as a glaring omission on my part please just clue me in.

Thanks in advance for any tips.

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

La Sirena Gorda
920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

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

Pho Tau Bay
2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

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  1. >> I also think maybe I'm weakest here in bakery/dessert, so if anything stands out as a glaring omission on my part please just clue me in.

    I've been putting together my own itinerary for an upcoming trip to the Cities, and I will post it here some time in the next few weeks. I looked for a topic recommending the very best pastry shops, but couldn't find one. If there is already one, maybe someone could post a link to it? I've seen mentions of Salty Tart Bakery (which is in the Midtown Global Market that the OP here is already planning to visit), Rustica, and Patisserie 46, but I don't know whether or not those are the best around. So I too would appreciate any direction regarding bakeries for sweets.

    9 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      The bakery question depends on what you're looking for. Patisserie 46 is excellent, so is Salty Tart (though that will get some argument around here). For a plain cake donut, A Baker's Wife is as good as it gets. Right next store, Buster's on 28th is a great neighborhood pub. Outstanding beer selection and above average grub. It can be pretty busy during prime time, however.

      BTW, you've been an incredible amount of help in the CHI board...I'll be sure to help the best I can when you visit our fair town. :)

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      Buster's on 28th
      4204 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

      Salty Tart
      920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407

      1. re: BigE

        Thanks!

        What I love is European pastry – stuff like croissants, French macaroons, entremets (mousse cakes), bostok, éclairs, etc. I’m not looking for “comfort food” type baked goods – no cookies, no lemon bars, and for heaven’s sake enough already with the cupcakes! :) It sounds like my top choices are Patisserie 46, Rustica, Patrick's, and Salty Tart. A quick check of websites leads me to believe that the places mentioned for St Paul (Sweets Bakeshop, Bread and Chocolate, A Piece of Cake, and Bars) all lean towards the conventional stuff that I'm not interested in.

        I'm holding off on posting about my upcoming trip to MSP because it's over three months away, and things can change between now and then. I'll probably post about it 6-8 weeks beforehand. (But in case you're curious, the places I've already got on my tentative itinerary are La Belle Vie and Restaurant Alma for dinners, and Hell's Kitchen for breakfast/brunch.)

        1. re: nsxtasy

          id. . . honestly. . . skip patrick's, it's just the same damn mass-produced opera cakes for 20 years, all showy presentation and no spark anymore. other places with less showy offerings have moved past patricks in terms of using high quality ingredients. doesn't take *me* back to paris, and i'd bet my garters you have access to far better in chicago.

          rustica is brilliant, but they are primarily an artisan bread bakery. they have some croissants and small pastries which are fine, but, simple and "rustic," an afterthought to the fine breads, imo.

          patisserie 46 and salty tart are better bets with more technique and contemporary flavor innovations going on. i can't stress enough--please go to the actual salty tart location in midtown global market to get good, fresh selections. some of the stuff she sends out to local restaurants is frustratingly uneven, but i've had some really sublime things at the actual counter, there's a reason she gets put up for the james beard award. and yes, several of the crew at salty tart can be quite grouchy. hell, downright bitchy. that's coming from *me*! so be prepared-- they can also be sweet as pumpkin custard. loopy bakers, heh ;-P

          looking forward to having you in town, your advice on the chicago board is always **so** thorough and helpful to visitors!

          1. re: soupkitten

            Yeah, skip Patrick's - everything looks dazzling in the case, but lacks flavor and quality. Patisserie 46 is very very good. Rustica does get more attention for its breads, but I think their fine pastries are often overlooked. Their bostocks are very good, as are their coconut tarts, gougeres, lemon tarts, etc. They just don't offer the more frou-frou French pastries. I haven't hit Salty Tart when they have had much left yet. Seems like everytime I'm able to get there, they're out of everything.

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            Salty Tart
            920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407

          2. re: nsxtasy

            Add Bar La Grassa and book it now.

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

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I love European pastry too and I get it, really I do, but please don't poo poo conventional quite yet. Bars Bakery uses local ingredients and really - you won't find such Minnesotan baked goods anywhere else. I suspect you're drowning in European pastry in Chicago, but do you really have to die for lemon bars and molasses cookies and caramel rolls that I'd pretty much sell a limb for? That said, Patisserie 46 is on my list of go to places as well. Oh and Sweets Bakeshop, while it does make cupcakes, it also makes some kick ass macarons - I suggest the salted caramel. :)

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              Bars Bakery
              612 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

              1. re: Seige

                Actually, yes, in Chicago we also have plenty of those "comfort food" type baked goods as well as European pastry. (For example, the cinnamon swirl rolls at Fox & Obel here are pretty darn awesome.) Nothing wrong with that - it's "different strokes for different folks". It's just my personal preference towards the more European type pastries. Between the mentions I've seen for the pastry cream brioche at Salty Tart, and the bostok and frangipane at Rustica, and that photo of the entremets in the Heavy Table review of Patisserie 46, I'm sure I'll find what I'm looking for!

                1. re: Seige

                  maybe not for Nsxtasy, but for the op, some of the other bakeries in town would make good recs. bravo! bakery comes to mind as a unique place for cake and confections.

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                  Bravo Bakery
                  1106 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

                  1. re: Seige

                    I very much appreciate what Bars Bakery is all about. That said, I have been there three times, at different times of day, and the available choices were very sparse. The display area is very small, and I wonder how they can survive with such low volume. Also, although I do like both European and American baked goods, I don't like either one to be excessively sugary. Bars is VERY sweet - just too much for us. When you use good quality ingredients, you shouldn't have to rely upon sugar so heavily.

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                    Bars Bakery
                    612 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

            2. I think you've got some excellent plans For downtown lunches, La Loma is a great quick and (relatively) cheap option. The Turkey To Go cart definitely is in the same food court, kind of tucked back a little bit. Super tasty sandwiches. I personally think My Burger is awful. Right next door to My Burger there's a Japanese place called Zen Box that's pretty good (I like the gyoza especially). A better burger option downtown would be Ike's, although that's a sit-down spot, not takeout.

              1. You have a great list going. If you are interested in sampling a bit of night life, I'd like to recommend Nye's. A blast from the past, very unique, great (and cheap) martini's, Minnesota Nice, fun!, though food is just OK. Just thought I'd throw this out there as a response to you liking "classic." Have a nice trip!

                http://nyespolonaise.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: rp1760

                  oh hey, that's perfect--I hadn't seen this spot at all. Thanks!

                2. I recommend Patisserie 46, Rustica, and Patrick's Bakery for fancy baked goods, and A Baker's Wife for more standard fare. Salty Tart in Midtown Global Market is good too, especially their cheesecake and pastry cream filled brioches. If I had to choose one, I would choose Patisserie 46. Are these the best around? I think so...I would have a different list for St Paul, but I think Patisserie 46 is probably the best bakery in the whole metro.

                  The rest of the spots in your post looks pretty solid. Jasmine Deli and Quang are my favorites for Vietnamese food, and I usually end up there or at Evergreen Taiwanese after a visit to the MIA. I think Jasmine Deli is just a little bit better than Quang, but it is harder to get a table there so I usually end up at Quang.

                  Personally, I would choose Bar La Grassa over 112. My last visit to 112 was a bit too salty.

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

                  Patrick's Bakery & Cafe
                  2928 W 66th St, Minneapolis, MN 55423

                  Salty Tart
                  920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Quince

                    Thanks for the info on the pastry shops!

                    I see from their website at www.patricksbakerycafe.com that Patrick's has two locations: 2928 West 66th St. and 6010 Lyndale Ave. I assume they both have the same stuff...?

                    >> ...I would have a different list for St Paul

                    May I ask what those are, and how they compare? There's a possibility I may include St Paul in my trip. Thanks!

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Patrick's main location is the 66th Street location. The one on Lyndale is part of Bachman's garden center and has limited hours/menu.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        For St Paul: Sweets Bakeshop (there's now one open in Minneapolis too, but I haven't been to that location), Bread and Chocolate, A Piece of Cake and Bars Bakery. Cafe Latte is also worth considering, although I find their cakes to be a little too much for me.

                        St Paul doesn't have any high end French pastry shops to my knowledge, it's pretty much standard American bakery treats at the places I've listed with the exception of macarons at Sweets. Bars and Sweets Bakeshop are like bakery boutiques, with a small but delicious selection.

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                        Cafe Latte
                        850 Grand Ave Ste 1, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                        A Piece of Cake
                        485 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN

                        Bars Bakery
                        612 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

                        1. re: Quince

                          I noticed a place at Snelling / Randolph this weekend called "La Patisserie", but I know nothing about it.

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

                          1. re: semanticantics

                            Well, it can't be all that new, because it was mentioned in a post four years ago at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3995... :)

                            1. re: semanticantics

                              La Patisserie on Randolph? Not very good.

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                              La Patisserie
                              1570 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN

                              1. re: sandylc

                                Not good at all. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

                                ~TDQ

                      2. Salty Tart is outstanding, and since you'll already be at MGM, a great choice. If you are interested in a fish fry, the Red Stag supper club has one on Friday nights that is very good. They are in NE, not far from downtown by cab.

                        Not sure I would pass up 112 Eatery for that, though.

                        Of PTB or Quang, I prefer the latter. Not sure they are sufficiently distinct to merit separate visits.

                        I'd throw a recommendation in for Heidi's. That or Saffron would be my top two recommendations in the city.

                        If you enjoy adult beverages, go to Bradstreet for a cocktail.

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

                        Salty Tart
                        920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407