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Jun 22, 2014 06:16 PM

A few days in Minneapolis area - did my CH homework

A few day in the Minneapolis area to attend a wedding that will be held the Loring Pasta Bar venue (which was a surprise to see this place will work for a wedding regardless of the unlikely name)

In addition we have a few meals to cover from our downtown hotel, as we spend some time exploring the close in area. (Fri/Sat/Sun)

So far it looks like a breakfast at Hell's Kitchen and Sunday lunch/brunch'dinner at Black Forest Inn to sample what might be truly "local" to the Twin Cities and its historic culinary past.

Of course, this does not include a Jucy Lucy but not sure there will be room for one, stomach wise, even if there is time wise for a few more sampling spots.

Any other local and/or historic spots and or local/historic dishes? Al's for breakfast sounded great until we read about the waiting lines. What is the story about "Eat Street"?

Thanks for any tips, warnings or confirmation.

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  1. Lots of decent food on Eat Street - especially Vietnamese. That said, ES isn't a go-to destination for any specific restaurant, as every represented cuisine is done better at some other location in town.

    But since you are nearby, Quang, Pho Tau Bay, and Pho 79 all have good Vietnamese. Lu's (Banh Mi,) Krungthep (Thai,) Rainbow (Chinese,) Peninsula (Malaysian,) Christos (Greek,) Harry Singh's (Caribbean,) Glam Doll (donuts,) Spyhouse (coffee) are all fine. There is also a new breed of restaurants on ES that are trendier and have full bars. Ice House is primary a music club. Eat Street Social might be more enjoyable for drinks than food, and the Copper Hen is the most recent arrival in this category, which seems to embrace non-specifically ethnic cuisine.

    There is also a string of restaurants further north on Eat Street that are likely closer to your hotel. These include Market Bar-B-Que, Jerusalem's, and Salsa a la Salsa (Bar-B-Que, Middle Eastern, and Mexican, respectively.) These places are all adequate.

    I might have considered the Black Forest 25 years ago but I definitely wouldn't go out of my way for it now.

    The Loring has a great room in Dinkytown, one of the main commercial districts for the U. of M. You will have a fun time there. (Some trivia, this building is where Bob Dylan once lived.)

    Al's, also in Dinkytown, is fine diner-style breakfast food. But you are right, the lines are long and with only 14 stools there is always someone breathing down your neck waiting for you to finish. Not good for large groups of people.

    Hell's Kitchen should be fine for brunch.

    1. To help further, please tell us the name of your hotel, your transportation situation, and your food and budget preferences. Knowing how many are in your group might also help.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChancesR

        Another bit of info that is sometimes helpful is where you are from. It gives a better understanding of the kinds of cuisine you have access to at home.

      2. You can do better than the Black Forest and a Jucy Lucy. You will miss out on some great dining if that's what you end up eating.

        Historic does not necessarily equal quality.

        If you can provide the info ChancesR asked about, especially if you have a car, we can help you better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChillyDog

          I agree with Chilly and Chances about the BFI and the Jucy Lucy.

          Mpls/St. Paul has so much more to offer.

          1. re: ChillyDog

            Prefect thread. I will print this out and it does have names that seem to come up a lot, and it appears to follow pretty much which we are looking for too.

            Please, if there are any updates to this thread happy to get them. Thank you fellow Chowhounders - the best travel dining resource out there.

            I'll owe you one.

          2. You are all right about failing to give a little more background when asking my dining questions - from West Coast so asian, mexican, nouvelle, foodie, chi chi etc are not on our radar for this trip.

            Will have a car, only two of us doing the culinary exploration and looking for "heart land America" as it might translate to a west-coaster, which is why I was looking at "German" at the Black Forest Inn. We don't do German, or anything Middle European out here on the West Coast.

            Come myself from German/Danish St Paul stock a few generations ago. Guess I am trying to find something my grandparents might have known --- or that grew out of their newly immigrant experiences back in the late 1800's..

            Funny how one culls tourism info about "must eats" when visiting a new place, that often leaves the local scratching their heads.

            I once saw marshmallows recommended as must eats for Europeans visiting America for the first time, along with beef steak and apple pie.

            Reading across the recommendations here, I can see Minnesota today has a lot more than just "powdermilk biscuits" these days, but there is part of me who would like to know what the heck a powdermilk biscuit actually was.

            Hotel is on 4th Street downtown, we like to walk (humidity -what is that???) Skywalk looks interesting as a city planning experience. Willing to take public transit to avoid parking driving problems. Want to take is some of the local scenery, lakes, lifestyle too.

            BTW: I love rhubarb. Yep, still Danish enough for that which is hard to find out West and impossible to grow. Money not a primary consideration. Casual to high end special okay for us

            11 Replies
            1. re: glbtrtr

              Thanks. That's helpful info.

              Top of mind downtown-
              Brasserie Zentral
              Bachelor Farmer
              Haute Dish

              Just across the river from downtown, Kramarczuk's. They recently won a James Beard America's Classics award. How's that for historic?

              If Swedish is of interest, FIKA is not too far away and an easy drive. They have a good size lot so parking shouldn't be an issue.

              1. re: ChillyDog

                Yes. Fika! (the American Swedish Institute's website)

       - the cafe's website

                Try a Seasonal Shrub Soda. Weird but tasty.

                I know a lot of people pooh-pooh Nyes which has been around since the 50's. I go for the people watching, a cocktail and believe it or not, the Naugahyde (gold flecked cherry red - who does that?). Warning - on a sticky day bare thighs will feel like they've been superglued to the banquette. The parking is not ideal (tiny lot) but it's a great mile walk from downtown over the Stone Arch bridge and down Main Street.

                If you want food after your walk and drink, well you can eat at Nye's but it's not my cup of tea (martini, actually). There's a lot happening over that way these days, but if you are interested in food of the past I'd suggest Kramarczuk's. Just down Hennepin from Nye's.

                A link to a teeny walking map No doubt your hotel will have better maps. Still, gives you an idea of the area.

                You've gotten great suggestions from others. These are kinda wackier alternatives.

                1. re: ChillyDog

                  Brasserie Zentral popped immediately into my mind too when I saw the reference to Central European, buttressed by the later mention of pork. Check out the pork cheeks on Zentral's menu

                2. re: glbtrtr

                  Funny how tourist industry sorts tend to recommend different restaurants to tourists than they would choose for themselves. While visiting Nashville, a local wanted to send us to some corny music-cowboy theme-y restaurant; we used Mr. Google to find a wonderful, fresh-food chef-owned restaurant. The punchline is that while we were at this wonderful restaurant, we saw the local guy who'd tried to send us to the theme restaurant!

                  I was intrigued by your "powdermilk biscuit" reference. I grew up in the true Midwest (slightly further south of Minnesota), springing from families who made biscuits daily. They were called biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, or baking powder biscuits - NEVER "powdermilk biscuits".

                  A quick internet search reveals that the term is apparently an invention of Garrison Keillor for his radio program.

                  Anyway, I would look for chef-driven restaurants who do the whole "local" thing.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    Garrison Keillor ... IS .... Minnesota to us Left-Coasters and we pay $100 a pop to see him perform out here and wonder what the heck powdermilk biscuits are all about.

                    BTW, we are lusty meat eaters and miss getting really, really good pork. Any restaurant hints to satisfy that fetish?

                    1. re: glbtrtr

                      Garrison Keillor....well, let's leave that subject behind.

                      I will give some good thought to the best pork in town! Some places around here do the Berkshire heritage thing, I'll have to think of some of them...

                      Anyone else here have a pork thought or two?

                        1. re: sandylc

                          Carnitas at a number of places - Homi, Maya, Sonora Grill, Pineda.

                          Also Bar La Grassa has a great bruschetta with pork shoulder (that, frankly, tastes just like carnitas.)

                          Additionally, pork shoulder sandwich at Rooster's.

                          1. re: sandylc

                            Lucia's generally has pork on their menu - it changes weekly.

                            They use a lot of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.

                          2. re: glbtrtr

                            If you end up at Ngon, they have an excellent pork belly appetizer.

                            1. re: glbtrtr

                              Craftsman on E. Lake Street generally has a very nice porkchop (the details change seasonally). The location is a bit out of your way, though if you combined this with visiting Minnehaha Falls, you could take the LRT there, then Niceride bikes north along the river to Lake St. Might make for a fun evening.