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Jul 6, 2011 11:50 PM

NYC Hound looking for what MSP does better

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:

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




*What else??

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

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    1. 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

      1. 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. 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. 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

              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.:


              Nothing in the entire NYC Metro can compare.

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

              1. re: PChannon

                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.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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.


                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      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

                      "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.