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International food experiences in Mpls

krecreane Dec 27, 2012 06:19 PM

I'm taking a young friend (18ish) on an international chow excursion/adventure (right here in Minneapolis) and am looking for ideas.

She is familiar with Midtown Global Market....so I think we'll start at United Noodle, maybe mosey on over to the Mercato on Lake and whatever, then head up to Central (Middle East/Indian...). Any other ideas? I'm not sure where we'll end up eating--feel free to throw out suggestions if you got 'em.


  1. krecreane Jan 5, 2013 06:19 PM

    THANKS everybody! We had a lovely day. Hmong village was a trip...had fun nosing through the stalls, she drank very sweet bubble tea and liked it (wow, it was sweet!). The indoor farmers market was hopping--even in late December.

    We had lunch at the Caspian. No one had suggested it -- and... it was disappointing. We didn't get there till 1:30, and it seemed like everything we had had been sitting out for a while. The Kashk E Bademjan (eggplant dip appetizer) had a hard, crusty shell on the surface and was somewhat sour....and so it went. The falafel app was sawdusty and obviously re-steamed (or microwaved). We got two entrees that were off the beaten track: one stew that had barberries (never tried them before) and the Ghormeh Sabzi. To my dismay, neither tasted good. Just didn't taste good. I get that the use of dried lime can make a dish a bit bitter, but I couldn't eat one entree and didn't want to eat the other.

    We also visited United Noodle -- delightful in its unending new things! And finished it off with tacos at Pineda on Hiawatha and Lake. Fabulous barbacoa...deep and complex.

    Thanks for all the ideas...I'll continue the quest.

    1. d
      discus Jan 5, 2013 02:00 PM

      If your friend wants to experience international cuisine, try Mercado Central on the corner of Lake and Cedar. It's like Hmong Village for Mexican, Ecuadorian, Salvadorean and Guatemalan restaurants. Lots of places to pick and choose from, with a central location to dine, just like Global Market.

      1 Reply
      1. re: discus
        bkmnus Jan 5, 2013 02:22 PM

        It is actually Lake & Bloomington and if you go be sure to get an Oaxacan tamal from LaLoma - spicy masa and pork steamed in a banana leaf - one of my fav's.

      2. l
        latte4me Dec 28, 2012 11:22 PM

        Khyber Pass - different, yet familiar.

        1 Reply
        1. re: latte4me
          Haricotsv2 Dec 29, 2012 01:49 PM

          I love Khyber Pass!

        2. drew13000 Dec 28, 2012 01:04 PM

          I'm going to second Himalayan Restaurant and add Fasika to the mix.

          1. AnneInMpls Dec 28, 2012 12:55 PM

            How about one of the Somali malls? The biggest, I think, is the Karmel Suuqq at 29th & Pillsbury in Mpls. I haven't been to that one, but I went to the little one in St. Paul at hwy 280 & I-94. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly, and the shops were (to me) very exotic and African. It was like a mini-trip overseas!



            1. a
              american_idle Dec 28, 2012 07:02 AM

              I came here to post the Hmong Village, but two people beat me to it. If politics are part of how you eat, you may care that they donated a sizable amount of money to "defend marriage".

              Dosa King is an all vegetarian South Indian restaurant up in Blaine / Spring Lake Park. It's a bit of a haul, but it's one of my favorite restaurants. A friend recently ordered a dosa at another Indian restaurant, and the server flat out admitted their dosas were far inferior to Dosa King.

              You could also simply drive down University Ave in St. Paul between Rice and Lexington and pop your head into just about any Asian-named restaurant and have an incredible meal. Block for block and dollar for dollar, it's the best stretch of restaurants in the metro. Thai Cafe, Homi Mexican, Cheng Heng, Little Szechuan, Treu Chao, Ngon Bistro, Bangkok Thai Deli, etc. The "Eat Street" part of Nicollet is jealous.

              1 Reply
              1. re: american_idle
                krecreane Dec 28, 2012 08:09 AM

                Thanks for all the informed ideas...I'll let you know how it goes!

              2. b
                bkmnus Dec 28, 2012 05:57 AM

                1. Pineda Tacos on Lake near Hiawatha for excellent tacos.
                2. If going out at night, especially if on a weekend, give Jerusalems a try for middle eastern food with belly dancing.
                3. Dong Yang on 45th & Central for an affordable intro to Korean food.
                4. Himalayan has an excellent Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan lunch buffet which is a steal at $8.75/person

                3 Replies
                1. re: bkmnus
                  bkmnus Dec 28, 2012 07:50 AM

                  5. Crescent Moon on Central for Afghani pizza - don't forget to ask for the hot sauce!

                  1. re: bkmnus
                    krecreane Dec 29, 2012 02:08 PM

                    Just went to Pineda Tacos off Hiawatha for lunch! --Bravo!!!

                    Yahoo!...there were so many decisions...so we tried several things.

                    Got a Tamale (pork) ~ not bad, not bad at all. In fact, even though this tamale was not house-made, it was better than the ones we've eaten at LaLoma in MGM.

                    Enchilada (spicy steak w salsa verde) ~oh so simple...a taco rolled over and massaged with sauce & cheese--blow torched [on a PAPER PLATE!!]. Fabulous.

                    Soft tacos (2 tortillas) and Hard shell tacos--
                    Fillings in order of loveliness:
                    5) Chicken in red sauce
                    4) Shredded pork (very very greesey..and we like grease)
                    3) spicy steak w salsa verde
                    2) Chicken with green sauce ~ and wee chunks of potato. delightful. Not spicy, but very very tasty!
                    ****1) Barbacoa ~ YEs! Yes! Yes! My favorite. It's right. A lingering cumin and clove cloud buoyed to your tongue by just enough greasy-succulent meat, raw onions, cilantro, a squirt of lime to brighten it up. It's what we look for in a hole in the wall place...that
                    blend of spice/flavor/balance/exoticness/realness/zing. The hard shell added texture and an almost sweet counterpoint to the savory, juicy fillings.

                    Plus, the condiment bar lets you apply extra sauteed onions/jalapenos, corn and onion relish (nice!) and salsa (a weak point in its rather dull tomato-sauciness).

                    Dang it. Is the one in Plymouth this good?

                    1. re: krecreane
                      bkmnus Dec 29, 2012 03:47 PM

                      The Plymouth location is very close yet with some differences. Plymouth does not have tamales (dang!!!) but I like the refried beans better at Plymouth. The salsa bar in Plymouth does not have the sauteed onions/jalapenos but does have the corn salsa on weekends only but does have some nice salsa choices including a chipotle salsa that will leave you with a nice kick!.

                      Disclosure: Oscar who manages the Plymouth location is my neighbor.

                  2. s
                    stymie Dec 27, 2012 06:50 PM

                    I just made my first visit to the Hmong Village in St Paul. Had a most tastey steak and fried whole tilapia w curry sauce at Lee's Asian. Can't wait to go bk to try some of the other stalls. Don't think you could find a better place for your adventure. 2nd idea is Dong Yang in Columbia Hts.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: stymie
                      steve_in_stpaul Dec 28, 2012 01:06 AM

                      I second the Hmong Village -- or the Hmong Market closer to the Capitol. Both are very different experiences than what's been mentioned so far.

                    2. NugarifiK Dec 27, 2012 06:34 PM

                      You mention shes familiar with Midtown, has she eaten at Left Handed Cook yet? If not, that should be your first stop. My second stop would be 2 miles to the West at World Street Kitchen.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NugarifiK
                        krecreane Dec 27, 2012 07:02 PM

                        Great ideas (and I need to try WSK!!)--but I really want to "take her into" another culture.

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