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Looking for Unique MSP Dinner

Flying into MSP tomorrow evening. We're going to be staying down in Northfield, but have the evening free and figured we'd drive into the cities, eat a nice meal, and then head south. We're traveling form small-town Alaska and whenever we leave the state we like to try and go out for a nice/unique meal, something we'd never get at home.

What I'm looking for:

- Delicious food - preferably not crazy expensive, but a $20 -$25 entree price is not an issue
- Something that either highlights local produce/specialties or an ethnic cuisine we wouldn't find in AK (read - no Thai, Chinese, Sushi, Korean)
- A drive of less than 45 minutes from the airport
- If the restaurant is located in an area that we could take a nice stroll around after dinner, that would be awesome as well - but not a requirement

Thanks so much!

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  1. Corner Table comes to mind for local (that would be a fairly urban walk), also Tilia (bonus=walk around Lake Harriet), and Heartland (caveat-downtown St.Paul is pretty boring/dead in the p.m.)
    Bar LaGrassa or Solera if tapas/small plates interests you. Warehouse dist. and downtown proper, both decent for stroll and peoplewatching.
    Also downtown, Saffron

    Ethiopian food? Blue Nile or other
    French? Cave vin for bistro, Vincent for finer dining

    It might actually be easier to choose a neighborhood or location you might like to visit and THEN the resto.

    1. A few recs would be Vincent or Lurcat, with a walk around Loring; Barbette/Lake Calhoun; or Restaurant Alma/Stone Arch Bridge.

      1. Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale. $70 for a 10 course tasting for 2 (not each). Look them up on Facebook and check out their platings / dishes.

        Big caveat: ridiculous wait times if you're not in the first seating. Get there before open (4:15 / 4:30 ought to be okay on a weeknight) and make sure you're in the first 60. They don't take reservations.

        Otherwise, all of these other suggestions are great too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: semanticantics

          Travail is closed for all of July, so they might be extra slammed these next few days.

          It's funny...I absolutely love that place, but I flat out never recommend it (for more than one person) because of the wait times.

          1. re: BigE

            Yesterday, Travail only had 30-odd waiting when they opened and slowly hit capacity with 5 names on the wait list when I left at 6:20.

            1. re: semanticantics

              Huh...good to know. Don't think I'll be able to go in the next few days, but I'll plan a return visit for August or September :)

              1. re: BigE

                A weeknight + 90 degrees (the line was in the back where there is shade) and possibly word of mouth that they are going to be closed for July might have all been factors.

                Food was great, arguably the best Tofu dish I've had there, roasted cauliflower, potato, orange, saffron sauce.

        2. Hands down Linden Hills. Harriet Brasserie or Tilia. Walk around Lake Harriet. Ease to navigate from airport. Friendly neighborhood feel.

          3 Replies
          1. re: keg

            Not to be a stick in the mud, but Tilia is another one that is an absolute bear to get into. Outstanding food, great vibe, great neighborhood, but expect long waits. Too bad, because its another one of my favorites...maybe the best meal I had last year, actually.

            1. re: BigE

              Yogi Bera strikes again. Harriet will tighten up very soon if Rick Nelson has anything to say about it (rave review).

              Depending on the hour of the day there are places to duck in while you wait, or walk around the lake before dinner for a change up.

              1. re: keg

                HA. That's exactly how I describe Travail to people...no one goes anymore. It's too crowded.