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International food experiences in Mpls

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.


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  1. 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

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

    2. 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

        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. 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

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

          1. re: bkmnus

            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

              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. 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

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

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

                1. Khyber Pass - different, yet familiar.

                  1 Reply
                  1. 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

                      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. 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.