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Favorite restaurants from the past

Today I was driving down Central Ave., and I passed by the old Pannekucken (sp?) building which, in recent years, has been occupied by various Indian restaurants with little to no success. Anyway, I remember my parents taking me to this Pannekucken when I was a kid, and I started to think about all of the restaurants that I enjoyed that are no longer around.

Here's my list in no certain order:

1. Shakey's Pizza. Enough Said.

2. Skippers (The AYCE fried fish was a steal back in it's day)

3. The fast food Chinese restaurant on Hennepin in Uptown (I think it was called Chinese Express). It's heyday was in the 90's, when you could actually order your food so spicy, you'd break a sweat. It was housed in an old Rax building and after it closed became a Thai restaurant. The broccoli with crispy garlic in brown sauce almost turned me into a vegetarian.

4. Rocky Rococco's pizza in Dinkytown. That was some good pizza (There is still a location open in Brooklyn Park, but the pizza is not the same as it was back in 1992).

5. The old Rainbow Cafe in Uptown. Best turtle cheesecake ever.

6. Benjamins (Roseville location). I swear they had the thickest cut onion rings you have ever seen. There would be like one whole large onion per order. The neon orange dipping sauce that came with them looked nasty, but it was delicious.

7. Mother Tuckers (Roseville location). Because when you are 16, that name is just funny. Although they did make a mean patty melt, and if I am not mistaken, they were one of the first restaurants in town to offer Buffalo Wings (circa 1987).

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  1. 1. I miss Bali Hai (Roseville?). It seemed so exotic for its' time with the Polynesian theme and the dinner show with dancers in grass skirts.

    2. Winfield Potter's in St. Anthony Main. They had a great brunch.

    3. The Poodle Club on East Lake St. It was a dive, but in a good way. Greasy $3.00 breakfast with a free cocktail. Cured many a hangover, plus great people watching.

    4. Skippers too. They had some kind of Cajun spiced fried fish that I crave to this day.

    5. Jimmy's on Minnehaha in S. Mpls. for their giant roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy.

    6. The OLD Figlio. Lots of good memories there.

    7. Rupert's American Cafe. Always ordered their shrimp scampi appetizer before an evening in the nightclub. Lots of mints were needed to cover up the garlic.

    I'm sure I'll think of more. Great topic! Thanks for posting this.

    6 Replies
    1. re: justalex

      No prob!

      I believe Bali Hai was in Maplewood and yes, I remember that place. I was a little kid back then, and I remember being spooked out by the creepy statues.

      1. re: jeff55432

        I just thought of this one (and only you old schoolers may remember it): George's in Fridley (East River Road and 37th Ave). Technically in was in Fridley, but it for all practical purposes was in Northeast. It was a middle-eastern restaurant/nightclub with belly dancing. It was an interesting joint to say the least (rumor has it that it was eventually shut down due to the fact that the belly dancers offered "services" on the side if you know what I mean). But it was one of the first restaurants in Minneapolis that offered Gyros, and from what I can remember, they were awesome (from an 8 year-old's perspective).

      2. re: justalex

        I'm still amazed they decided to re-brand Figlio's. Apparently the phrases, "don't mess with a good thing" and "if it ain't broke don't fix it" didn't mean a thing to the owners. My boyfriend, then husband, ate there about once a month since it opened. Even had my 30th surprise birthday there. Miss it a great deal.

        1. re: KristinK7

          Have you been to the new Figlio in the West End?

          1. re: Jordan

            No, is it worth a shot? I'm a bit gun-shy after trying Il Gato.

            1. re: KristinK7

              Wish I could tell you -- I haven't been to the new Figlio. I'm probably not your best reviewer, as I was never a huge fan of the old Figlio, either.

      3. I liked Mexico City Cafe at Selby-Dale.

        1. Onion rings at Anchor Inn
          Mama Lu's where I fell in love with ribs
          Sri Lanka House of Curry, medium told me what my heat threshold was and made me to never let get my beer glass empty

          2 Replies
          1. re: stymie

            And my absolute favorite, where I learnded to love great Chinese food: Mandarin Yen on old Hwy 12, fell victim to a 394 off ramp. Relocation to Bloomingto didn't last very long.

            1. re: stymie

              Chef Heather from the Sri Lanka Curry House now cooks meals to eat in or take out every Wednesday at the Our Kitchen Diner at 36th and Bryant. Call to get on her mailing list or to let her know you're coming to eat or want takeout. She's still an amazing cook and a lovely lady. And she doesn't make the food super hot but has some nice chutneys and sambals for extra flavors. 612.250.6556

            2. The New French Cafe: Many a great dates
              The Loring: I know the pasta bar is in dinkytown, but loved the original
              Figlio: The new one feels like a glorified Fridays
              Bobino: Good food at fair prices.
              The Nook: I know it's still there but I miss the dump it was before the fire.
              Auriga: One of the great Mpls restos. The last week it was open were some of the great bites and nites ever at a Resto.
              JPs American Bistro: Loved it for apps and wine. Still miss his fries
              Porkys: I still am in withdrawal over those onion rings
              Blue Star Jazz Room: The smoking ban killed this place. A smokey basement jazz club with huge steaks at a fair price. By no means the best steak, but the best atmosphere by far for a Mpls jazz club
              The Town Talk Diner: Adult malts and big kid fun

              I could go on and on, but those are probably that hurt the most from a food and good memory standpoint. But as Axl once reminded us, "Nothing lasts forever, even cold November Rain."

              5 Replies
              1. re: Db Cooper

                Right — The New French. That was one of my favorite places. How long has it been gone?

                1. re: GH1618

                  I'm guessing it closed somewhere around 2003 or 2004, but I may be off a year either way. I loved their bar and many a great chef that are still trucking in this town were in the kitchen there.

                  1. re: ssioff

                    Porky's on Lyndale South. Onion rings and graham cracker pie. Loved it! Porky's on West Lake for picking up drag races on Lake Street.

                  2. re: Db Cooper

                    Truly miss the New French the most of all. I have add to that is the old warehouse district, Robert Thomson, etc.

                  3. Matin — a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, somewhere near the New French.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: GH1618

                      One of my favorites too. Some soup! Shrimp, mussels, tomatoes, pineapple, chillis, (if I remember correctly) absolutely divine.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        but I'm referring to the one in Uptown on Hennepin.