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San Diego Foodie coming to MN

Love all sorts of food. Would love some recs on local gems. Staying downtown. Casual preferred but if there is a must eat, I would love to hear about it.

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  1. Will you be moving about / out of downtown at all?

    7 Replies
    1. re: semanticantics

      Some.....mostly downtown. Did you have something in mind?

      1. re: dbwave

        Travail in Robbinsdale (10 minutes north of Minneapolis) was recently named #4 best new restaurant in the country by Bon Appetit. Small plates, fancy plating, casual. It's prohibitively hard to get into, they don't take reservations. You should be prepared to wait outside for them to open at 5pm, it's easier than waiting once they open. They are known for a 10 (+) course tasting menu for 2 for $70.

        Piccolo in south Minneapolis is a bit similar (small plates, small space), but a good touch fancier and about 50% more expensive.

        112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa are two of the better restaurants in downtown Minneapolis).

        Meritage and Heartland Restaurant are the two best restaurants in downtown St. Paul. Our downtowns are about 10 minutes apart.

        The area is also known for a variety of ethnic cuisines, we've got good Thai, Vietnamese, Hmong and Ethiopian.

        1. re: semanticantics

          I'd add Haute Dish to the mix, and depending where in downtown, Sea Change would be another worthy choice.

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

          1. re: semanticantics

            I'd definitely agree that the Twin Cities has good (even great) Vietnamese. There are a couple of good Thai places, but overall I'm not sure it's a strength. Same with Ethiopian (though I don't know how San Diego does in those cuisines either). Hmong restaurants are not ubiquitous, but are worth seeking out as not many other places have them.

            The TCs are also known for (or should be, in my opinion): good "greasy spoon" breakfast (Al's Breakfast, in particular, in the Dinkytown area); good use of local ingredients (Heartland, Alma, or Brasa for more downscale eats); and good ice cream (Pumphouse Creamery is our favorite; also Izzy's, Crema Cafe/Sonny's, or Sebastian Joe's).

            Crema Cafe
            3403 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            Sebastian Joe's
            4321 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

            1. re: mtullius

              Sadly, except for Heartland which is in downtown St. Paul, none of those wonderful places you've listed is in "downtown." And we're stil not even sure which downtown the OP will be visiting.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                112 Eatery is downtown. I would add Saffron and Blacksheep for pizza.

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

                1. re: Latinpig

                  I don't really think of the warehouse district as being downtown (which I think of as the main business district) and it's not comfortably walkable in my opinion from all of the downtown hotels. NEVERTHELESS, the OP said he was going to Saffron, across the street from 112, so it must have been downtown enough for him. I'm hoping he took MSPD's suggestion and popped into 112 while he was nearby and comes back to tell us all about it.


      2. Downtown...Minneapolis? Or St. Paul? Which twin do you mean?


        1. Downtown Minneapolis (I assume this is what you mean), your best bets are Saffron, the 112 or Cosmos. Saffron is my pick for out of towners because the chef has an enormous talent for seasoning and it's a cuisine that is lacking in other urban areas.

          If you do venture south, you can hit up Heidi's, which happens to be nailing it at the moment, or you can visit one of the Vietnamese places on Eat Street, of which Quang is my personal favorite.

          1. Barrio, Joe's garage (great patio if there is nice weather), King and I Thai, B.A.N.K. for lunch was good for me though the reviews vary on that place, Oceanaire has a great happy hour during the week, get a few appetizers and drinks for dinner and go out somewhere else for dessert and coffee like Cafe Lurcat. Have fun!

            King and I Thai
            1346 La Salle Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            Cafe Lurcat
            1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            88 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

            1. dbwave, I assume you are visiting Minneapolis (and not St. Paul), but where exactly are you staying, when is your visit, how many meals, will you have a car?

              All this determines how close to your hotel to recommend places. For example, one poster recommended Bar La Grassa (a solid recommendation). But if you are staying at the southwest end of downtown, you won't be walking to Bar La Grassa. And Minneapolis cab rates are ridiculous.

              1. assuming we're talking minneapolis downtown, not st. paul downtown, i'd take an >10 min cab to alma, just across the mississippi river into NE, or bar la grassa, which is getting into the north loop/edge of downtown.

                good restaurants that are downtown minneapolis are saffron, 112 eatery, cosmos. hell's kitchen would be a board favorite for breakfast, but it has its detractors. the vast majority of my personal recs would be away from downtown. you should enjoy some grass-fed beef while you're in town, if that appeals. available even at local neighborhood bar-type places here.

                1. I will be downtown MN. I really really appreciate the recomendations. I will report back what I try. THANKS!!!!!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dbwave

                    I assume you mean downtown Minneapolis not downtown Minnesota?


                    1. re: dbwave

                      You've gotten some terrific recommendations, but depending on where in downtown Minneapolis you'll be staying and what you'd consider a comfortable walking distance, a lot of the places recommended in this thread might require you to take a cab. For what I consider easily walkable from the "heart" of downtown Minneapolis, I'd recommend Hell's Kitchen for breakfast (try the wild rice porridge, bison sausage bread, lemon ricotta hotcakes), Vincent (French) for lunch or happy hour or dinner (the best values are at lunch and happy hour in my opinion), Solera (tapas) for dinner. Barrio's fine, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone from San Diego (nor would I recommend Masa, though no one did in this thread). Cosmos and B.A.N.K are also solidly downtown, but I don't know if they meet your requirement of casual.

                      Mission American Kitchen and Fire Lake are also downtown and respectable chow-wise.

                      Of all of the above, I'm not sure I'd say any one of them is a must-do, except maybe Hell's Kitchen or Cosmos if you like that kind of atmosphere.

                      112 and Saffron are across the street from each other, but on what I'd consider to be the outskirts of downtown and you'd likely have to take a cab.

                      We've had a lot of excitement about food trucks in downtown Minneapolis. Depending on when you're visiting, those could be a viable option for you for lunch, too. Some of our best chefs run food trucks!


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

                      1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                      900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                      Mission American Kitchen & Bar
                      77 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                      88 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Bar La Grassa is a hike, but 112 and Saffron are 8-10 blocks, at most.

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

                        1. re: kevin47

                          Farther than that if you're staying at the Hyatt. Add in heels, weather (OP is coming from San Diego!), darker days, and it could seem farther. But, I do think these fall into the category of gems, so if it were me, I'd bring a warm coat and some comfortable walking shoes...


                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Just got in to town. Thinking Vincent's for lunch and Saffron for dinner. Excited!!!

                          1. re: dbwave

                            Welcome. Good choices! Let us know how it goes.


                            1. re: dbwave

                              Saffron is literally across the street from 112 Eatery. If you want a little bonus taste/toe the water of 112, you can go across after Saffron for the butterscotch budino that people rave about. They also have ice cream from Izzy's -- a St. Paul joint argued by many as the best ice cream shop in the Twin Cities (and we have a LOT of great ice cream here believe it or not).

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

                        3. Thank you for all the great recommendations. I only had time to try two.

                          Vincent's for lunch. Not a great experience. The burger came in less than 5 minutes and was not warm. It wasn't bad but not Chowhound worthy. The Caesar was worse.

                          What Vincent's lacked, La Grassa made up for. Wow. Dinner was fantastic. The egg and lobster was unreal, but what really blew me away was the Foie Gras tortellini. Talk about food heroin! My friends let me order all dishes and afterwards told we did not get the best ones (chicken with polenta and st louis ribs).

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dbwave

                            Thanks for reporting back.

                            Between my own experience and hearing several others saying this, I would love to see people stop recommending Vincent for lunch. My first "Vincent burger" was the worst burger I've had in years and that isn't hyperbole. I've heard people say they like it, so I guess at best it should be classified as hit-or-miss.

                            1. re: MSPD

                              I always order of their little prix fixe lunch menu, never the burger (which is sometimes an option on the prix fixe menu, I think, though I can't exactly recall) which I think is a great value, and always really interesting. But I guess I should have said specifically that when I recommend it for lunch, and I'm sorry I didn't. It changes weekly, but here's what's on it today, for instance:

                              2 COURSE PRIX FIXE LUNCH $12.5

                              Monday - Friday (menu changes weekly)

                              Stir Fried Bulgogi Marinated Beef and Tofu

                              Spinach, Eggplant, Taro Root Puree


                              Risotto "Carbonara"

                              Nueske's Bacon, Poached Eggs, Shaved Parmesan


                              Heart of Romaine Salad

                              Pulled Duck, Goat Cheese, Dried Prune, Pumpkin Seeds

                              _ _ _

                              Vincent's Cheese Choice

                              Served with Homemade Orange Marmalade, Mixed Nuts, & Dried Fruits


                              Warm Strawberries and Fig Compote

                              Almond Crumble

                              I've only had the Vincent burger (at Vincent) once, and to be honest, that was a bite or two of someone else's and it was fine, not mind-blowing, despite how good it sounds. It's just a knock off of Bouloud's, which is way better (and way pricier). But, I don't think a burger is the best choice at Vincent at lunch. But with the Jfood, the OP, and now MSPD saying the burger isn't great, or, more accurately, is inconsistent, it does sound like we do need to warn people off of it. Order whatever else is on their prix fixe lunch menu, folks.

                              Sorry to steer you wrong, OP. :(.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Touche Dairy Queen Touche!

                                Next time I go with you!