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NYC Hound looking for what MSP does better

Joe MacBu Jul 6, 2011 11:50 PM

I'm visiting this weekend. Welcoming all suggestions, including in the surrounding areas. Will travel via the shared bikes and friend's car, so distance is not an issue. I've read "52 Hours in Minneapolis" thread, so no need to repeat what's included there: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781935

For instance:

*Rye berries - I'm having a difficult time sourcing this in NYC and need to take about 10 pounds back. Fresh and organic from a local farm preferred, but I'll take anything. Hopefully <$1.50/lb.

*SE Asian: Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese. Who's got the best pho, and everything else?

*Markets, including farmer's markets

*Ethiopian

*Somali

*Kurdish?

*What else??

I'm not looking for outsider-friendly places, just damn good food. Thank you, and I'll be sure to report back.

  1. Joe MacBu Jul 12, 2011 11:29 AM

    Thanks everyone for the overwhelming response. You sure know how to welcome a fellow hound. After this trip, I can confirm that MSP does many things better than NYC - so no need to be humble about it. For instance:

    - Organic rye berries for 69 cents/lb at The Wedge! I also had a fantastic coconut macaroon from there, which went perfectly with some local grass-fed unhomogenized milk.

    - I had a fantastic loaf of 1/2 rye 1/2 wheat miche bread at Rustica. I admit to being a bread snob and this one was one of the best I've had in the country.

    - Delicious roast goat at Hamdi. The rice was even better and tasted like biryani, and it also comes with lentil soup, salad (with ranch dressing...hmm) and homemade hot sauce. It's a ton of food for $9. We don't get Somali in NYC.

    - A very solid bowl of pho at Saigon. It would be a top contender in NYC, but not so much in LA/Orange county. Good banh mi as well. While we have a good number of Vietnamese restaurants in NYC, none are really worth writing about.

    - Pizzeria Lola for leek and egg pizza. A friend had raved about this place, and while the pizzas were good, they weren't transcendental. It seems the dough was lacking in flavor that day and the eggs were overcooked.

    -Mill City Farmer's Market. What a beautiful area, but I was saddened that the Mill City Museum was closed due to the government shutdown. I only sampled a stellar goat cheese and some decent jams since I was saving room for eating at the Hmong Market.

    - Hmong Market. Wow, what a treasure! I felt like I was back in Laos, especially when I saw the live chickens and the DVD stands with all the animal videos. We had a great meal of papaya salad, sausage, chicken wings stuffed with noodles, crispy pork belly, larb, gizzards and pho.

    -HauteDish for a late night meal. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and execution of the food here (the only bad thing was their bread, but we were told that they were out of their homemade stuff). A friend said her mac and cheese (with crab?) was the best she's had. Another enjoyed his salmon and frog leg burger. I had been craving tater tots since landing at MSP, so I went for the tater tot hautedish - while the tots were glorified and more like croquettes, they definitely hit the spot.

    -Red Stag. We had some great snacks to go with our beers. They seem to excel at deep-frying as was evident in the fantastic and salty deep-fried cheese curds and fried smelt.

    -Hell's Kitchen. The wild rice porridge was delicious, but I thought the cream muted the flavor of the wild rice. The bison sausage bread was great, as was the coffee and peanut butter.

    - I accidentally stumbled upon a potluck contest at Ballentine VFW when I went in there to just use the restroom. What a find! There were dozens of homemade dishes, some of which were very delicious and representative of local ingredients. Dishes like smoked bison and morels; battered deep-fried meatballs on a stick; tater tot hotdish; elk hotdish; chicken with wild rice; spam-a-lot; tomato jello; green jello with lime, cottage cheese and olives! There was even liquid nitrogen ice cream. All that and a beer for 5 bucks.The event was organized for an episode of Bizarre Foods and Andrew Zimmern was there, but I guess it wasn't really publicized.

    - Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to eat Ethiopian (the VFW event derailed that plan). But I did visit the Ethiopian shops in Seward. The injera at Shega market looked great (and is sold at other markets and restaurants) and I picked up teff flour for only $2/lb. They also have a takeout counter with some good looking stuff.

    Another thing that MSP does better than NYC is beer. Surly Furious and Coffee Bender are some truly exceptional brews. Wish we could get them in the East. I guess I'll just have to plan another trip soon.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Joe MacBu
      k
      KTFoley Jul 12, 2011 11:53 AM

      Thank you so much for your report!

      1. re: Joe MacBu
        s
        soupkitten Jul 12, 2011 01:25 PM

        great report, sounds like you really had fun! come back soon :)

        1. re: Joe MacBu
          scoopG Jul 12, 2011 01:41 PM

          Tater Tot Hot Dish! Now we're talking. You really packed a lot in!

          1. re: Joe MacBu
            s
            sandylc Jul 12, 2011 03:19 PM

            I'm so glad you went to Rustica. In the top 10 bakeries in the country. Visiters should never miss this wondrous place.

            1. re: Joe MacBu
              nsxtasy Jul 12, 2011 07:18 PM

              Great report.

              >> -Hell's Kitchen. The wild rice porridge was delicious, but I thought the cream muted the flavor of the wild rice.

              I thought the cream gave it a subtle richness that it needed to offset the slightly coarse flavor of the wild rice. I thought it was perfect!

              1. re: Joe MacBu
                Joe MacBu Jul 12, 2011 08:30 PM

                I also made it to the Midtown Global Market, but nothing looked that great there. Any worthy recommendations for a future visit? I would have had Los Ocampo there, but had already visited their nearby location. I had a good taco al pastor, but the spit wasn't fired even though the meat was on it. I think they just cut it off and cooked it on the griddle. Is that their normal method there?

                1. re: Joe MacBu
                  The Dairy Queen Jul 13, 2011 12:34 PM

                  RE: MidGloMa: There's a Scandivinavian treats counter, Cafe Finspang that's pretty unique--you can get lefse and lutefisk (to go) among other things. There's La Sirena Gorda, which is solid seafood, esp for the Midwest. There's a James Beard nominated bakery, Salty Tart. My experiences there have been up and down, but the "up" experiences are pretty good. You can get some great local cheeses and produce at the two stalls in the center of the market...

                  RE: Hamdi. Goat was the perfect choice. If you had it with pasta and a banana, you pretty much got a thorough Somali experience.

                  ~TDQ

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

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

                  Cafe Finspang
                  920 E Lake St Ste 148, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    nsxtasy Jul 13, 2011 02:35 PM

                    I don't think I mentioned it in that other "52 Hours" topic, but I actually stopped by Cafe Finspang and bought a few small cookie/pastry items. They were okay, not bad not amazing. As I posted over there, I thought the selection at Salty Tart was extremely limited, but I loved the one item I had there, a sugared brioche filled with pastry cream.

                    I didn't eat elsewhere at the MGM, but from looking around, I got the impression that the places serving prepared foods were not necessarily the very best in the Cities. No offense to those who live there, but I'd skip it if I get a chance to visit MSP again.

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      The Dairy Queen Jul 13, 2011 02:46 PM

                      Aw too bad about Cafe Finspang. I've always really enjoyed what I had there, but I do usually have my "Norwegian guide" along pointing out what looks best, aka, what grandma would have chosen.

                      ~TDQ

                      -----
                      Cafe Finspang
                      920 E Lake St Ste 148, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                      1. re: nsxtasy
                        The Dairy Queen Jul 13, 2011 03:07 PM

                        As for your assessment of Midtown Global Market in general, I understand your point, but I don't completely agree. Some of those places in MidGloMa are actually "the best" that the Twin Cities has to offer in that category of cuisine, they just aren't necessarily things that the Twin Cities excels at in general and therefore, not worthy as a destination for an out of towner.

                        For instance, in its price range, La Sirena Gorda is perhaps one of the best for seafood in the Twin Cities. But, I don't know if I'd send out of towners there (without some qualification) because seafood --and those who know what to do with it--aren't necessarily as rare many out of towners as it is to us here. I've always thought La Loma's tamales are ho-hum, but they are pretty much the only game in town, so, not great, but still "the best' the Twin Cities has to offer.(Personally, I just do without tamales and wait until I travel to somewhere where they are better.) Holy Land Deli is a perennial chowhound favorite, but their other location is better. Same with Los Ocampo.

                        On the other hand, the Somali restaurant in MidGloMa is one the most accessible in the Twin Cities. (A woman might have trouble getting seated at other Somali restaurants in the Cities, especially if she is without her husband and not attired appropriately. I have been been to several Somali restaurants where I've waited for 20 minutes and literally was not even acknowledged and had to leave and go elsewhere. Not only would they not seat me, they just pretended I didn't exist. I have also been the recipient of some very generous Somali hospitality: it just depends on the situation.) I don't know anywhere other than Cafe FInspang where you can get prepared lefse for those visitors who want to try it. And, Salty Tart is James Beard nominated (though I am not a particular fan of the place as I find it unfriendly and uneven). So, if you're interested in these specific items, it might be worth the trek.

                        But if you just want to go and expect everything to be great across the board, you will be disappointed.

                        ~TDQ

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

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

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

                        La Loma Restaurant
                        1510 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                2. nsxtasy Jul 7, 2011 09:01 PM

                  I really liked Hell's Kitchen as a breakfast specialty restaurant with a rather unique theme and style, and I thought some of the menu items (such as the Mahnomin Porridge, made from wild rice) seemed like a heartland type dish that you might not find in NYC. And speaking of wild rice, chicken with wild rice soup (available throughout the Cities) seems to be a local specialty you might not find in NYC, either.

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

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    The Dairy Queen Jul 8, 2011 05:20 AM

                    Totally agree about HK and wild rice. But, the OP said he'd read your thread where I recommended it (as well as some lefse and a few other things), so I didn't reiterate here. But if he missed that, I'm seconding your comments!

                    ~TDQ

                  2. danionavenue Jul 7, 2011 01:26 PM

                    The best pho IMO is at a family owned Vietnamese place in Woodbury called Thanh Truc.
                    Their egg rolls are also very very good. There is a place called Angelina's kitchen owned by a New Yorker who opened up shop which has the best banana pudding which is in the same area. Stop there for some to go. Very good.

                    I have been to The Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian, it was good. Not in the best neighborhood for sight seeing but it is safe and yummy.

                    Red Savoy for pizza and Boca Chica for Mexican are always good.

                    -----
                    Thanh Truc
                    2230 Eagle Creek Ln, Saint Paul, MN 55129

                    Woodbury Cafe
                    803 Bielenberg Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55125

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: danionavenue
                      The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 01:31 PM

                      Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian? Meaning in that strip mall off of West 7th in St. Paul? Isn't that a pizza place now?

                      EDIT: yeah, QOS turned into Pizza Mafia. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695712

                      I personally like Red Savoy for pizza, in that gloppy, greasy, overloaded, square cut, housemade sausage and sauce kind of way, but I think it requires a lot of caveats before recommending it to a New Yorker who probably has a completely different understanding of pizza. And I'm going to gently differ on Boca Chica. I think it's one of the worst Mexican restaurants I've ever been to, not counting national chains, even though it is really a family-run joint claiming to use old family recipes. I've had some decent salsa of theirs, but the rest of the food is really forgettable (at best). I have an old post about it in the Midwest archives if anyone cares to search, but Boca Chica is a must avoid in my opinion.

                      I don't mean to be such a negative contrarian in this thread, but the OP isn't merely asking for what's best in MN (and Boca Chica wouldn't even rank there, in my opinion), he wants what we've got that's better than NYC. That's going to be a pretty high bar.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        ibew292 Jul 7, 2011 02:03 PM

                        Pizza Mafia is no more. It's closed.

                        -----
                        Pizza Mafia
                        2447 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55116

                        1. re: ibew292
                          The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 02:04 PM

                          What's there now. Anything?

                          ~TDQ

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                          scoopG Jul 7, 2011 02:20 PM

                          Isn't Red Savoy also known for the wait staff? I mean old timers that have been there forever?

                          1. re: scoopG
                            The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 02:21 PM

                            Yes, the staff is also is a big part of the appeal.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: scoopG
                              mtullius Jul 7, 2011 04:52 PM

                              And are cranky in a possibly charming sort of way. I enjoy the staff there a great deal, but if one is put off by cranky, not so good.

                              1. re: mtullius
                                s
                                sandylc Jul 7, 2011 06:33 PM

                                Rye berries can be found at any co-op; not sure of the price. Red Savoy is not good. Limp, greasy crust with sugary sauce. I'm sure some like it because it has a nostolgic taste to it. Boca Chica used to be better than it is now. We stopped going many years ago because it had gone downhill so far.

                                1. re: sandylc
                                  t
                                  tart1 Jul 11, 2011 02:59 PM

                                  I can remember going to Boca Chica back in the 70s thinking I would get some "authentic" Mexican after returning from spending 6 months in Mexico. I thought it was bad back then. I actually think Taco Bell is as good as the Boca Chica food I remember.

                                  1. re: tart1
                                    s
                                    sandylc Jul 11, 2011 04:19 PM

                                    Yeah, you're right there - "authentic" was never part of the Boca Chica thing. But it used to be very tasty in a cheesy American-style Mexican way.

                        3. The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 11:38 AM

                          For a sit-down Somali meal, either Hamdi or Qoraxlow on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Don't expect to have your mind blown food-wise. It will be more of a cultural experience.

                          You've gotten good advice on your other questions, so I won't belabor any of that. And I think we discussed wild rice in the other thread. I don't know anything about Rye Berries, alas.

                          Was the Strip Club mentioned in the other thread? Very local vibe with grass fed beef only. Also, Ngon Bistro if you want the intersection of local, sustainable & SE Asian--this is not your traditional pho place, so skip it if that's what you're looking for. Great beer list. Food is sometimes uneven, but mostly good. Would be a good choice for lunch.

                          You can't count on getting great Lake Superior fish unless you're at the North Shore, but if you find it, get it. Here's an old thread that might be of help. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7531...

                          ~TDQ

                          -----
                          Hamdi Restaurant
                          818 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

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

                          1. s
                            sandylc Jul 7, 2011 10:56 AM

                            Lucia's in Uptown. Local foods on a limited menu that changes weekly for the last 26 years. Nothing out-of-here unusual, but just delicious and beautifully done. Lucia Watson and Brenda Langdon (Spoon River) were the original locovores years before anyone else knew what it meant.

                            1. e
                              eastlakovore Jul 7, 2011 10:33 AM

                              I'd throw out Piccolo as a suggestion under the 'what else' category, food is incredible.
                              SE Asian - Quang for the Sea Bass soup on the weekend.

                              -----
                              Quang Pastry & Deli
                              2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                              Piccolo Restaurant
                              4300 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: eastlakovore
                                The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 01:57 PM

                                Quang is a real favorite among Chowhounds, but for someone looking for super hard-core "traditional" Vietnamese food, it will miss the mark. But the OP just said damn good food, didn't specify traditional, so he might love it. I just want to make sure expectations are appropriately set.

                                My fav for pho is Pho Tau Bay, though to be honest, I've not been since their remodel, which means it's been awhile. I've been chained to St. Paul lately.

                                ~TDQ

                                -----
                                Pho Tau Bay
                                2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                              2. s
                                semanticantics Jul 7, 2011 08:54 AM

                                The St. Paul Farmers Market is the best Farmers Market. The proprietors have to be within X amount of miles (I think 60 - 90?) to be included.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: semanticantics
                                  LiaM Jul 7, 2011 09:59 AM

                                  I was at the St. Paul Farmers Market a couple weeks ago and it seemed much, much smaller than it has been in past years. Lots of vendors I'm used to seeing weren't there (Callisters, Bar 5) and there weren't a whole lot of vegetable stands either. Does anyone know if light rail construction or something else is sending people elsewhere?

                                  In past years I definitely would have sent visitors to St. Paul over Minneapolis, but of late I have preferred Minneapolis. While there are non-farmer vendors, they're generally easy to identify and avoid if you prefer locally grown food.

                                  1. re: LiaM
                                    The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 11:25 AM

                                    Funny, I always heard that radius thing, too, but it appears that rule was changed in 1998 from 50 miles to "any grower in Minnesota." http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/businessmanagement/components/7539_c_9.html

                                    If you're going to the SPFM (weekends only), be sure to check out the Market (more about prepared foods than produce) at Heartland Restaurant while you're there. In addition, Heartland just started offering Sunday brunch, too. I don't know what the hours for that are or if you need a reservation, though, and they don't seem to have it on their website. http://www.heartlandrestaurant.com/in...

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                      s
                                      semanticantics Jul 7, 2011 12:37 PM

                                      Brunch is under "our menu". I just noticed this before last weekend myself.

                                      1. re: semanticantics
                                        The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 01:20 PM

                                        Yes, they have the menu, but no information about the hours or if it's served in the dining room or what and, therefore, whether reservations are necessary.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          m
                                          mull0263 Jul 7, 2011 02:04 PM

                                          Brunch at Heartland is served 10 AM to 2 PM on the weekends - you'll be fine without reservations.

                                          Regarding the St. Paul Farmer's Market; I definitely haven't noticed a downturn in volume (I live 50 feet away from it). Depending on the day you went some of the vendors just might not have been there, as I've seen Bar 5, et al every time I've stopped by. Also, some of the food trucks have started showing up for the market as well (i.e., Gastrotruck, Potter's Pies and Simply Steve's).

                                          1. re: mull0263
                                            The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 02:06 PM

                                            Nice!

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              j
                                              jaycooke Jul 11, 2011 05:35 PM

                                              I had a lovely brunch at Heartland, but I do want to complain about the price. $10 for a goat cheese and egg scramble (fine), $10 for a side of sausage (2 housemade patties with wildrice - a little steep, but okay), and $5 for a cup of black coffee. So it was $27 before tip for brunch for one. You've already come and gone, but I figured the price was worth noting.

                                              1. re: jaycooke
                                                s
                                                shanemio Jul 12, 2011 02:48 PM

                                                I will not go to someplace in the cities that charges $5 for coffee. Ever. Period. St Paul is not Paris, Rome or NYC. This trend is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

                                                1. re: shanemio
                                                  nsxtasy Jul 12, 2011 07:10 PM

                                                  Not even Starbucks? :)

                                                  1. re: nsxtasy
                                                    s
                                                    shanemio Jul 12, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                    What was I thinking, of course. That machochinotino-thingy is worth $6! Actually, it is kind of funny. I never really know how to "order" coffee there. But I hear it is really good.

                                                    1. re: shanemio
                                                      MSPD Jul 12, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                      "I never really know how to "order" coffee there."

                                                      Every now and then, I find myself in an area that seems to only have Starbucks (e.g. near my company's office in Arlington, VA). I try and keep it simple, but no matter how I order it, they always reply with a slightly modified version. "I'd like an iced venti mocha." "OK, that's one venti iced mocha". Next time: "I'd like a venti iced mocha." "OK, that's a venti mocha, iced." It always feels like a decades-long passive-aggressive way of brainwashing me into subservience.

                                                      "But I hear it is really good."

                                                      No, it isn't.

                                                  2. re: shanemio
                                                    b
                                                    Bobannon Jul 13, 2011 12:36 PM

                                                    Me too. But what really bugs me is the latest trend of charging $2.50 to $3 for a soda. This is insane. And yes, I understand it's free refills, but that's if you can catch someone to refill it. And, half the time I'm not even getting the kind I like. (coke products). Rainbow had 12 packs of coke products last week for $1.88. I drink water now in protest. I understand the economy is tough and food costs are rising, but i'd rather just pay higher prices for food. Soda isn't that expensive. It's like paying $35 to check a bag on a flight.

                                  2. scoopG Jul 7, 2011 08:18 AM

                                    Hi Joe. Bar La Grassa is one place that would fit right in in NYC. There are others as well. 112 Eatery, La Belle Vie on a good day for starters. I think the Twin Cities Vietnamese scene is far more rich and extensive than NYC. Same for Somali and Hmong foods.

                                    Where are you staying? It is a vast, car-dependent metro area.

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

                                    La Belle Vie
                                    510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

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

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: scoopG
                                      The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 01:47 PM

                                      (Despite all of the James Beard excitement) I really think 112 Eatery has gone downhill --not all the way to rock bottom, certainly, just bumped off the peak--since the opening of its sister restaurant BLG, but I haven't been lately, say, in the last 6-8 months. Have you been recently Scoop?

                                      ~TDQ

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

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        scoopG Jul 7, 2011 02:15 PM

                                        No TDQ, not in over a year!

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          s
                                          soupkitten Jul 10, 2011 07:53 AM

                                          i was at 112 last weekend and everything was great. i was particularly impressed by their excellent charcuterie plate, which rivaled the best stuff mike phillips used to put out in his days at craftsman, and a huge bargain at $12. i think that some of the past unevenness at 112 can be put down to the opening of blg and the ensuing drama/partnership fallout.

                                          indeed blg and 112 would fit right in in nyc. but as far as msp-*unique* restaurants at the higher end would go, i would take a serious nyc food person to piccolo, as Eastlakovore suggests below, or saffron (chow has features on the chef, sameh wadi right now). or i would do the local foods restaurant loop, if the interest was there. when we had nyu prof in town a few months ago he and his spouse really loved the strip club in st, paul. i'm not completely sure if the op is looking for fine or semifine dining though? at least a peek at the menus may be fun :)

                                        2. re: scoopG
                                          f
                                          foreverhungry Jul 7, 2011 02:09 PM

                                          "I think the Twin Cities Vietnamese scene is far more rich and extensive than NYC."

                                          Compared to Manhattan, maybe. But certainly not when compared to the Asian food scene in Flushing, Queens, especially on Main Street. While the Twin Cities do have a great Vietnamese (and Hispanic) food scene, they really don't compare much to those in NYC, which is mainly because of the vast difference in population.

                                          1. re: foreverhungry
                                            The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 02:14 PM

                                            Anthony Bourdain told MN Monthly that we have some of the best "Vietnamese" in the country.

                                            *preening*

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              f
                                              foreverhungry Jul 7, 2011 03:34 PM

                                              Not having to traveled to every corner of the US, I'd hazard a guess that Bourdain is probably right - the Twin Cities does have one of the best Vietnamese food scenes in the US. But that's quite a bit different than saying that the Vietnamese food here is better than that in NYC.

                                              1. re: foreverhungry
                                                scoopG Jul 7, 2011 06:14 PM

                                                The Vietnamese food scene in the Twin Cities is more vibrant than NYC.

                                            2. re: foreverhungry
                                              chompchomp Oct 27, 2011 06:29 PM

                                              We are Brooklyn hounds who trawl all 'hoods in Queens for all sorts of good stuff; and I can with some surety that Vietnamese food is exponentially better in the twin cities, and good Mexican food is just more accessible too. Good cheap Mexican food is tough to find! (with the exception of chilequiles at tacos santana near the w'burg bridge).
                                              Queens is pretty rad for most everything else though...

                                          2. s
                                            soupkitten Jul 7, 2011 07:54 AM

                                            not sure msp can claim to have better somali or ethiopian food than nyc, i haven't heard that. se asian and mexican is a different story-- but it's more the overall ethnic restaurant scene than one particular super-authentic pho house or taqueria, imo. i like babani's but it's a very homestyle restaurant and the cuisine may not knock your socks off or come across as very refined. even for a lot of msp denizens, it's a good stop when you happen to be right in that area, but it isn't anything to travel across town for. i would hate for you to feel like you wasted a meal since you have such a limited time, is all.

                                            local foods are obviously a big driver in msp, folks here eat more local foods than anywhere else in the country. if you aren't into the scene or the price (still quite cheap by nyc standards) of the new american restaurant godheads like alma or heartland, you can simply enjoy a local grass-fed burger at a pub or corner cafe. definitely check out a larger local foods co-op like the wedge, seward, or one of the mississippi markets--look for some excellent WI cheese varieties that may be hard to get or $$$ at home.

                                            bear in mind that many things about msp will be cute, little, and quaint compared to nyc, and that the restaurants here don't have the huge population of manhattan dining out nightly to support them. economic realities for msp area restaurants are such that many eateries, "ethnic" and otherwise, have workhorse menus aimed at the local population's tastes, but if you check out the specials menus you can encounter some great food. . . welcome and have a good time.

                                            1. p
                                              PChannon Jul 7, 2011 06:44 AM

                                              Joe:

                                              One day for lunch, I would recommend getting a "Juicy Lucy" Cheeseburger with some fried cheese curds and a Surly Beer. Try the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul. That'll certainly be a meal you wouldn't find often in NYC!

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

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: PChannon
                                                g
                                                gryffindor249 Jul 7, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                I was just going to suggest this as well. And while in the neighborhood, try ice cream on a homemade waffle cone at Grand Ole Creamery.:

                                                http://www.grandolecreamery.com/about...

                                                Nothing in the entire NYC Metro can compare.

                                                -----
                                                Grand Ole Creamery
                                                750 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                                                1. re: PChannon
                                                  The Dairy Queen Jul 7, 2011 11:13 AM

                                                  Ack! I love the atmosphere at BDP, but the burgers are greasy-soggy-awful and the wait is miserable, unless you get there right around opening. I understand why people love this place: their hospitality is fantastic. I want to love this place, but the burgers border on inedible. I can't even get my husband to eat there. The tater tots and beer list are great, though.

                                                  My recommendation for ice cream in St. Paul is Izzy's over GOC, though the waffle cone is a nice touch and I do like GOC's Black Hills Gold Flavor. I find all of the other flavors pretty ho-hum. But, Izzy's has much more creative flavors, and you get the mini "Izzy" scoop, which is always fun.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                    b
                                                    BigE Jul 7, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                    Agreed 100% about BDP. The burgers are not more than average and the place is always super cramped...I'm normally there by myself and I always feel like I'm in the way.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      Bill Roehl Jul 7, 2011 05:12 PM

                                                      I find nothing at all worthwhile at BDP. Go to Matt's, the 5-8, or even The Nook but man, I just don't get the love for BDP. My two visits there have left me absolutely bewildered as to why anyone thinks the place is anything but below mediocre.

                                                      1. re: Bill Roehl
                                                        k
                                                        kevin47 Jul 7, 2011 08:05 PM

                                                        I cannot understand why anyone would think the 5-8 is better than Blue Door. I get the wait issue, though I've had plenty of waits at the 5-8 locations. BDP's offerings are more insteresting than that of 5-8 and/or Matt's.

                                                        I think people tend to exaggerate the difference in quality between this or that burger qua burger. It's not that hard to prepare. It is much more difficult to render interesting.

                                                        1. re: kevin47
                                                          The Dairy Queen Jul 8, 2011 05:11 AM

                                                          If it's not that hard to prepare, there's no excuse for the sloppy, soggy mess of a burger BDP puts out. (Ditto Shamrock's, though on my last visit while the Nook was closed during fire renovations, they'd actually gotten it together. It's still not the Nook for a number of reasons, including the way the onions are prepared, but better than it was at first.)

                                                          However, I agree with your point about interesting, which is why I always recommend the Nook for its wonderful handcut fries and long-time St. Paul history and neighborhood atmosphere. Without that, it' s just a bar with decent burgers. (I haven't been to the Nook since the re-opening, btw, so I hope, now that they've recovered from their fire, it's still as good as ever.) BDP has the atmosphere, for sure; they need to kick up the rest to win me back.

                                                          Bill, I think the love for BDP is that it's cute as a button, has great hospitality, a great beer list, and really understands the neighborhood niche it's trying to occupy. And they are really trying with the menu. They just need to execute the food better and then it would be solid.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        s
                                                        Seige Jul 9, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                        Also agree about BDP... wouldn't bother with their greasy burgers and sides. Get thee to the Nook instead and get 1919 root beer on tap too while you're there.

                                                      3. re: PChannon
                                                        f
                                                        foreverhungry Jul 7, 2011 02:01 PM

                                                        "That'll certainly be a meal you wouldn't find often in NYC!"

                                                        I'd agree definitely on the Surly - Furious has consistently been making the nation's "best of beers" lists.

                                                        But not so much on the "Juicy Lucy" - yes, the Blue Door's version is excellent. The name "Juicy Lucy" might be of Minnesotan origin, but everywhere else in the US it's simply a stuffed burger, found on menus across the nation. Growing up in NJ I had them often as a kid. I think even TGI Fridays had one on the menu a couple decades ago, not sure if they still do.

                                                      4. Bill Roehl Jul 7, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                        For Ethiopian I prefer Fasika in St Paul although Flamingo is decent and has a loyal following.

                                                        For Hmong check out Destiny Cafe if you're looking for a sit down style restaurant or Hmongtown Marketplace and/or Hmong Village. While I prefer Hmong Village to Hmongtown, it's likely because there are more vibrant vendors and it's newer/cleaner, not because the food is any better.

                                                        1. mcgeary Jul 7, 2011 06:06 AM

                                                          Best pho for my money is at Pho Ca Dao on University Ave. I agree that Cheng Heng is fantastic for Cambodian. Babani's in downtown St. Paul is the only game in town for Kurdish, I think, and there's some good stuff on the menu. Dowjic soup is killer.

                                                          You might be able to get rye berries at the Wedge Co-Op in Minneapolis or Mississippi Market co-op in St. Paul, but I know that you can order them online from Bob's Red Mill -- 7.5 lbs for $11.35 = $1.51/lb.

                                                          -----
                                                          Mississippi Market Food Co-Op
                                                          622 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55104

                                                          Pho Ca Dao Restaurant
                                                          439 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

                                                          Babani's Kurdish Restaurant
                                                          544 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                          Cheng Heng Restaurant
                                                          448 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

                                                          Wedge Community Co-Op
                                                          2105 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                          1. ibew292 Jul 7, 2011 05:56 AM

                                                            Cheng Heng. Pho Tau Bay, Gorkha Palace, Minneapolis Farmers Market, Mid Town Farmers Market. Any CO--OP for Rye Berries, will be more than $1.50. I don't think anything in Mpls, is as good as whats available in NY.

                                                            -----
                                                            Cheng Heng Restaurant
                                                            448 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

                                                            Pho Tau Bay
                                                            2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

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

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