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Nov 12, 2013 09:51 AM

5 Cities in 5 Days - Food Tour

My cousin and I are planning a road trip after Christmas this year. We plan on driving to 5 cities in 5 days, the whole point of the trip is to try to find the best spots to eat in each city. We aren't looking for fancy restaurants, we are looking for amazing food.
We plan on visiting at least 2 food spots in each city.

The Route:
Starting in Omaha.
1.) Minneapolis
2.) Green Bay
3.) Chicago
4.) St. Louis
5.) Kansas City

I would like to get some advice and/or opinions on what spots we should visit and what we should order. So far, I have been recommended to visit these spots:

Minneapolis: Tilia - Brasa
Green Bay: Curly's - Krolls
Chicago: Giordano's - Johnnie's Beef
St. Louis - Cunetto's House of Pasta - Amighetti's
Kansas City - Oklahoma Joes - Arthur Bryant's

I would love to hear some other suggestions and opinions.

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  1. Anyone who lives in any of these cities, if you have a recommendation it is appreciated.
    Also, Price isn't really a factor, we just want to try things and places that we wouldn't be able to experience anywhere else. If there is a specific food that we can eat and not get anywhere else, we want to try it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JPEvansEats

      I'm not sure there is necessarily a perfect overlap between "things and places that you wouldn't be able to experience anywhere else" and "amazing food" when it comes to restaurant dining in the Twin Cities. This is unfortunately a bitterly contested topic of discussion on this board.

      I don't think you can go wrong with Tilia--it's one of the darlings of the food scene right now. I adore Brasa, but I'm not sure it would be one of only two places I visited in the Twin Cities if that's all I had time for.

      They have recently had a staff shake-out, but I might recommend Fika , the cafe at the American Swedish Institute to you. Very casual dining but really fabulous food.

      If you have a breakfast free, I might recommend the (very rich) wild rice porridge at Hell's Kitchen because I think wild rice --the hand-harvested, hand-parched, not-cultivated kind-- is something unique to Minnesota (and if you don't find it at a restaurant, you might buy a bag to go if you see it for sale anywhere you happen to be). But, the dining experience at Hell's Kitchen is otherwise pretty uneven.

      If you like a street food kind of experience, I recommend the Hmong Market in St. Paul. Typically good bets from the various vendors include the stuffed chicken wings, the papaya salad (Hmong style, which is a little different than Thai style), the rainbow/tapioca drinks (can't think of the name right now), the sausage, and the ribs.

      Babani's in St. Paul claims to be the first (and perhaps still the only) Kurdish restaurant in the U.S. if that's something that appeals to you. I think the food is pretty good (not necessarily exceptional) and, although some of the food might be familiar, it is pretty unique.

      Happy travels!


    2. One city per day means lunch and dinner, I suppose. I'd definitely stick with Tilia for lunch. As much as I like Brasa, I'd push you to the big brother restaurant run by the same individual: Alma. But I'd really push you to Ngon Vietnamese Bistro given your criteria.

      Alternatively, Fika for lunch and Tilia for dinner. But Tilia does not accept reservations.

      1. After ok Joe's I'd avoid ab's, Jack stack for the bbq short rib.

        Here, to echo the above brasa is great but not only stop great.

        Because if it were me ice cream or a bakery would also be party of every city I'd recommend Izzys here and glace in kc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: getgot211

          Would agree with Jack Stack over AB's, unless the history, etc. is more important to you.

          1. re: mull0263

            Oklahoma Joes - yes, it definitely is unique to K.C. and as the Michelin people would say, "worth a detour". But I don't think a second meal in KC should automatically also be BBQ. There are plenty of other distinctive places in KC. I'd recommend Voltaire in the West Bottoms, or Novel in the Crossroads disrtict, for real KC experiences.

        2. Minneapolis- Butcher and the Boar , 112 eatery or Borough.

          If you can plan ahead Umami by Travail. They do dim sum where you buy tickets ahead of time. Not sure about walk ins right now.

          Pig ate my pizza is awesome as well; another Travail Project.

          Skip Brasa imo Tilia is really good too.

          1. I second the advice to skip Brasa. Its a great place, don't get me wrong, but it is not a revelation. If I want a sort of fast casual lunch akin to Brasa, I'd go two blocks down Hennepin to kramarczuk's deli, and order the works. Otherwise, for a bit more money, Butcher and the Boar or Haute Dish offer truly excellent, and relatively unique dining experiences.

            I would also gently suggest that you skip Green Bay. I've been there several times for football games, and have eaten at Krolls, Curly's, and a number of other places in that town. If there is good food there, I haven't found it. Unless you are going there for a football game, skip it, and cast your net in Madison or Milwaukee. Much better eating, and more conveniently located on your route.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KyleThomas

              Indeed. Going to Green Bay for the food is rather like going there for baseball.

              The one restaurant in Green Bay that I gladly go to again and again and again is Hinterland. If there is a consistently better restaurant in GB, I don't know what it is.

              I would second the recommendation of Kyle Thomas - you are going to have a lot more options in either Madison or Milwaukee.