A travel journal
to Minneapolis by karameister
Quote: You could eat, eat, eat three meals a day, 365 days a year, and not get through all of the restaurants, cafes, and diners in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area!
Minneapolis and Saint Paul have some of the best places to eat in the country. With such a variety, it may be hard to choose! Thai, Italian, Mexican, Indian, pub-style, bistros - we've got everything.
When you are heading out for a good meal, don't discount the local chains. Eateries like Sawatdee and Key's Cafe have fabulous food and are based in Minneapolis.
If you are stationed in downtown Minneapolis, there are many excellent choices. Pricier options include the Oceannaire, Nami Sushi, Tiburon, and the Nicollet Island Inn. For a more affordable meal, try Pizza Luce, a fabulous gourmet pizza shop. There is also Buca di Beppo and Hell's Kitchen nearby.
In downtown Saint Paul, your options are just as varied. There is Manny's Steakhouse, a pricey local favorite, and the Saint Paul Grill, which is inside the Saint Paul Hotel. For cheaper eats, there are several great places: Cossetta's, a deli-style Italian joint; Tanpopo, an excellent noodle shop; and Mickey's Diner, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tanpopo is one of the few trendy eateries in Saint Paul. Located in Lowertown (just outside of downtown), it can be tough to find.
The restaurant is very traditionally Japanese, in a hip way. They have decorated very simply, with a few paintings on the walls. The tables are all very bare wood, and there is a small diner-style seating area for overflow.
Tanpopo specializes in noodles. The two main kinds they serve are soba and udon. You can get each noodle dish with either. They let you choose from vegetable toppings, beef, tempura, or tofu. The tempura is amazing, although it got a bit soggy near the end of my meal. That could be because of the huge portions!
They also offer traditional Japanese drinks, such as tea, sake, and Ichiban beer. The sake is not limited to just one type, like many Japanese restaurants around here. Instead, they offer you four of five choices to suit your tastes.
Overall, Tanpopo is a great experience. The only recent downside to their recent popularity is the price increase in most meals. I used to be able to get a good meal with a beverage for about $9, and now it's about $12 or $13.
Visit their website for a full menu with pricing and hours.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 14, 2005
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
308 Prince Street #140
Ol’ Mexico isn’t the place to go for Mexican food. You can find better just about anywhere. They do generic tacos, burritos, and fajitas, with little zip and no creativity. The food is not spicy in the slightest, so this is a good place for picky eaters who think spice is something the be scared of.
Ol’ Mexico isn’t the place to go for décor, either. It’s pretty typical Mexican décor--sombreros on the walls, adobe-style doorways, and the like. And the bathrooms are clean, well, sometimes.
If you’re going to Ol’ Mexico, go for the drinks. During their happy hours (I believe it’s 4-6 and 10-12 every night) they offer 2-for-1s on every drink. And I mean every drink. They make their margarita and daiquiris in 32-ounce mugs, and you get 2 for about $8. The only thing that throws me off about their daiquiris is the fact that they use coconut rum instead of normal rum. You can't beat the prices, though!
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 14, 2005
1754 Lexington Ave N
Restaurant | "Chatterbox Pub"
Do you remember hanging out at the Chatterbox when you grew up? Sure you do – only it was the basement of your best friend’s mom and dad. The walls were wood paneled, the windows were few and far between, and they had Atari. They were so cool.
So is the Chatterbox. You can sit on a comfy old couch and play Atari ‘til your little hearts bursts. You can borrow Trivial Pursuit or Chutes and Ladders from behind the bar just by handing over your license. And the wait staff doesn’t bother you unless they notice you’re empty.
The bar isn’t a full bar, but the do have a good selection of wines and beers. They brew their own beer, the Chatterbox Lager, and it’s surprisingly good. Plus, they are the only place in the area that carries Strongbow, an English cider, on tap.
The food is excellent, too. The Chatterbox food fits the decor, being mostly stuff your friend’s mom would have served. They do great burgers, chicken sandwiches, and roasted Irish potatoes. The Irish potatoes are easily the best item on the menu – you get a huge portion, steaming hot every time, and they melt in your mouth.
The brunch on the weekends is fantastic – all-you-can-eat, with a sizeable selection. They have traditional favorites, like French toast, but you can also get trendier items, like egg burritos and vegetarian options. They do serve alcohol at brunch, too, but mostly sangrias and spritzers. Anytime you go, the Chatterbox is cool!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 14, 2005
2229 E. 35th St.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407
Since Minneapolis changed its restaurants and bars over to nonsmoking this year, Pandora’s just isn’t the same. The entire top floor of this two-story coffeehouse used to be a smoking section – now, it’s just the top floor.
Nonetheless, Pandora’s is still a great atmosphere. I feel like I’ve stepped into a very hip person’s home anytime I check in. The porch is open in summer for relaxing, and the rest of the house is decked-out with comfy chairs and mood lighting. If you have a slight case of ADD, there is also chess, a couple of computers with pay Internet access, and three pinball machines in the back room.
If you haven't guessed by now, Pandora's is a coffee shop. They carry every kind of coffee you can imagine, and then some. For those of you who can't stand coffee, Pandora's also mixes up a great hot chocolate, and they have a huge selection of teas. Many of the items they carry are fair-trade.
The food selection is standard coffeehouse fare, but it's all good quality. Pandora's makes fresh sandwiches, soups, and baked goods. The cookies and brownies are quite huge, and many of them give you a chocolate overload!
Pandora's keeps good hours: they are open from 7 in the morning until 1 or 2am every day. If you're on your way out of uptown, stop by for a cup!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 15, 2005
2516 Hennepin Ave South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405
+1 612 381 0700
From what I have heard on review websites and from local friends, Royal Orchid makes amazing Thai food. Plus, their sign proclaims "Best Thai Food," and that can't be wrong, can it? After months of outstanding reviews, I finally made a trip there with my boyfriend.
I have to say, I was less than impressed overall. Most of the time, food is not about atmosphere, but it does help. Royal Orchid has white-tiled floors, white walls, and Formica tables with cafeteria-style chairs. There are a few decorations on the walls, but it gave me a hospital feel almost immediately. We did not see the back area, but the front was a little unwelcoming.
Service was quick, and we got our food and drinks within 15 minutes. I had Thai curry, and my boyfriend chose the pad Thai. The waiter never asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes, so I have to assume they were dulled-down. And they were! My curry was not spicy in the slightest and had just the smallest hint of a curry flavor.
My boyfriend did enjoy his pad Thai, but it also was not as spicy as he would have liked it. Despite the blandness, the mix of noodles and vegetables was good, and it was a large portion.
Royal Orchid is the place to go for bland Thai food, but if you want to spice it up a bit, try someplace like Sawatdee.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 18, 2005
Royal Orchid Thai
2401 Fairview Ave. N.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55113
Fortune House is a nice, family-oriented restaurant. By that, I mean that with one meal, you could feed your family for days! This often-overlooked Chinese eatery is known for its huge portions.
Fortune House is almost never busy, which is a definite plus. I've been there at noon, at 7pm on Saturday, and at various other times, and I've never had to wait for a seat. It's a very traditionally decorated restaurant, with a large aquarium full of koi and wood-paneled walls.
This place makes good Chinese food. They have a large selection of items, from basic appetizers (egg rolls and wontons) to the usual main courses (beefs and peapods or General Tsao's chicken). The upside to their food is that I can eat at least one more meal just from leftovers. The downside is the recent splurge in MSG-usage. Occasionally, I will get a stomachache from the amount of MSG they drown their food in.
Overall, Fortune House is a good traditional Chinese restaurant. If you're looking for comfort food, this is the place to go.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 18, 2005
2257 Rice Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55113
Pizza Luce looks like it is housed in an old warehouse. There are high ceilings and brick walls inside, but the place is rather spiffy. You can sit in a large, cushy booth or at a cozy table surrounded by wood, cans of olives, and photographs.
Perhaps more interesting than the decor is the wait staff. The Pizza Luce staff consists of multiple-tattooed hipsters with an equally large number of piercings. Some of them have blue or purple hair, and some wear striped tights with their required T-shirts.
The really standout menu item at Pizza Luce is… you guessed it, the pizza! They have created a number of gourmet pizzas, as well as the option of letting you create your own. In addition to standard toppings, you can get unusual items, like meatballs, roasted eggplant, corn, mock duck, sauerkraut, and several kinds of olives. There are also several choices of sauce, and they don’t skimp out on sauces or toppings! Try the garlic cheese toast with your pizza and you’ll be in heaven – just watch your breath!
Besides the one downtown, Pizza Luce has two more Minneapolis locations: on in Uptown on Lyndale, and one on Franklin Avenue. Visit the Pizza Luce website for menus and directions.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 20, 2005
119 N. 4th St.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Restaurant | "Loring Pasta Bar"
What would Bob Dylan think of his old digs? The Loring Pasta Bar has gone through a major transformation since Dylan lived in Minneapolis. Before it was the suave restaurant, it was a pharmacy. The Loring crew kept some of the original pharmacy exterior, but inside, it’s a completely new joint.
The Loring Pasta Bar feels like it’s trying too hard to be a hip place to be. The two-story restaurant is almost overdecorated – every inch of the walls is bursting in color, whether with brick, strings of lights, or old photos of Minneapolis. I felt sensory overload the second I walked in, and it never stopped. Even the bathrooms, with elaborate sinks and no doors, feel overwhelming.
The menu here is not very large, which ends up being something of a detriment. Previously, the Loring had several types of steak, and many more pasta dishes, but you are now limited to 10 or 12 entrees. For the quality (which is average), the prices are a bit exorbitant. You end up spending between $15 and $20 on a small dish that you could cook better yourself, and that doesn’t include appetizers!
On the plus side, the restaurant is very open and airy, and they offer entertainment several nights of the week. Most of the time, you can find live music or a DJ, but on special occasions they will play an older movie on a big screen. Head to the Loring Pasta Bar website for a full events calendar.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 20, 2005
1624 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
+1 612 332 1617
Village Wok has all the trappings of a college-campus restaurant: it's open late, some of the food is greasy, and there is a lot of loud conversation. This atmosphere only adds to the charm, though.
Village Wok has just about every Asian-style dish you could ever want. From Udon noodles, to mock duck, to many Szechwan-style dishes, they have literally hundreds of choices. Village Wok also offers many vegetarian options for a growing portion of the population.
The food here is quite tasty. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, they do not overload on MSG - all of the flavors are natural. The portions are healthy and include more vegetables than the average Chinese place, too.
Village Wok is a nice alternative for late-night eating. They are open until 1:45am, so even the latest eater can find something. Their website has the current menu.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 24, 2005
610 Washington Ave
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
+1 612 331 9041
Kinh-do is cheap but excellent, which is a rarity nowadays. This fact is especially true in Uptown Minneapolis, where the yuppies crowd in at night for $10 martinis and $9 appetizers.
Kinh-do sits just on the outskirts of Uptown in an unassuming building with a green overhang. The wait staff is friendly as you walk in, and it is never full.
This family-run business does all types of Asian food, from Chinese chow mein to pad Thai to Vietnamese specialties. The food is well-done, and there is always enough for leftovers. They have some of the best spring rolls I've ever tried!
If you patronize Kinh-do during the weekday lunch hour, they have a few dozen lunch specials, all for $5.99. This special includes an appetizer, main course, and beverage. And, unlike some places, they don't serve you less food just because you're not paying as much!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2005
2755 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Restaurant | "Sawatdee"
Even though Sawatdee is a local chain, which some may shudder at, they do great Thai food. Sawatdee’s dishes have just the right amount of spice, are well-proportioned between meat, veggies, and noodles, and leave you feeling full.
Sawatdee has several locations stationed throughout the area, but this particular location is my favorite. It is dimly lit, with fantastic decorations. The inside looks like it was an old warehouse, with very high ceilings. The restaurant is quiet enough that conversation is very easy.
The beautiful thing about the food at Sawatdee is the spiciness. They ask you how spicy you would like your dish and try to get it as accurate to your specifications as possible. The Pad Thai is excellent - they use their red peppers well and don't skimp on vegetables! They have somewhere between 40 and 50 choices for entrees and many appetizers.
Sawatdee's chefs also offer cooking classes on a regular basis. Visit the Sawatdee website for more information.
Sawatdee Thai Restaurant
607 Washington Ave South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415
+1 612 338 6451
In today's hectic, fast-paced world, it's good to know that there are still places like Zeno. Simply decorated yet elegant, this cafe in the heart of Uptown offers great food and drinks.
Zeno's motto is: triumph over blandness. They have proven to be the victor in their food selection. They offer a wide breakfast selection, from egg quesadillas to "Zeno's famous granola". I tried the French toast, which is made with sourdough, and it was out of this world!
Try Zeno's for breakfast on the weekends - from 10 until 2, they do a champagne brunch. For $12, you get an entree, a dish of mini-muffins, and your choice of champagne-oriented beverage.
Zeno's also offers a small lunch and dinner selection, but their desserts are the reason to come here. Every dish is sugary, fattening, and filling, and looks like you stepped into a NYC bakery. The desserts can get a bit pricey (about $7 on average), but get one with a glass of wine or coffee drink, and you'll be in hog heaven. They offer a wide selection - you can choose from Crème Brulée, Cheesecake, Strawberry Buttercream Cake, or about 15 other delicious delicacies.
Zeno's is very open, and has full glass walls on two sides, which give you the perfect view of the Uptown crowd. They also have a small area for sidewalk seating. The only downside to this warm, well-lit place is the restrooms. Since Zeno's is fairly small for a restaurant, there is only one bathroom for each gender.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 31, 2005
Zeno Coffee and Dessert Bar
2919 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Part of a large chain, it may be surprising how tucked away Buca di Beppo is. This medium-sized restaurant is located on a basement level of a nondescript building. Buca is smushed between downtown Minneapolis and Loring Park, which makes it perfect for family travelers and celebrations alike.
Buca is a great place to visit with a large group, but be prepared for a wait! This family-style restaurant is always bustling with activity, and waits can be up to an hour. I made reservations for my group on a Sunday evening and still had to wait almost half an hour for our table. Since there is a full bar, the wait isn't unbearable.
The food here is good, hearty Italian dishes. Everything you expect at a traditional Italian eatery is here: pizza, garlic bread, salads, lasagna, alfredo, and every other pasta you can imagine. Buca also has fantastic desserts, from spumoni to tiramisu to cheesecake. The small portions will feed a single person, while the large portions come on huge platters and feed two to three. When Buca says "portions," they don't skimp. With ravioli, it is filled to near exploding and smothered in meat sauce. With chicken cacciatore, you get a full chicken over garlic mashed potatoes (perhaps their best dish!).
The only complaint I have about my visit is the wait staff. Our waitress was friendly but forgot things constantly. First it was our silverware, then a couple of our drinks, and then one dish came out later than the rest. Besides her forgetfulness, the trip was fantastic! You can visit the Buca di Beppo website for locations near you and menus with prices.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 1, 2005
Buca di Beppo
1204 Harmon Pl.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Restaurant | "Egg & I"
The kitschy breakfast diner seems to be a Minnesota favorite, and Egg & I is no exception. It has the clever breakfast-themed name (see also Sunnyside Up Café and Butter). It is only open until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It has a decor that is reminiscent of a 1950s or ‘60s diner. All of these elements are essential to an excellent breakfast joint.
The Egg & I does a typical, but delicious, American breakfast. They center their meals around eggs and pancakes - both the omelet and the Kamikaze pancakes (stuffed with fruit) will fill you until dinner. You can get your eggs any way you want them, from scrambled to sunny-side up and even hard-boiled!
They make their own granola and squeeze their own orange juice here, a hard-to-find treat these days. Add bacon for an extra couple of dollars and you won't be disappointed.
The Egg is brightly lit and has both counter and booth seating. You may find a 15- to 20-minute wait on weekends, but there is a small parking lot, so if you're lucky, there is no need to worry about plugging your meter. The wait staff is also friendly and will give you great recommendations, both for food and local attractions.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 1, 2005
Egg & I
2828 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Restaurant | "Keys Cafe"
Keys has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 30 years, which is why it is surprising that they have not moved from their original Raymond location. If you choose to go to Keys, this location is the best of all to go to for a homey feel. There are reviews plastered all over the walls, as well as photos of celebrities that have stopped by for a bite.
Keys doesn't preted to be a gourmet food joint, they just make good, filling, home-cooked meals. If you visit this particular location, try to make it in on a weekday - they turn off the deep fryer on weekends, so you can't get french fries or melts. The breakfasts are fantastic, and the lunches are pretty good too. Try an omelette with any filling or a "signature breakfast", and you'll be stuffed. If you do go on a weekday, try a fish sandwich, and you'll be in a buttery, meaty heaven.
This Keys location also does great take-out desserts. For under $2, you can get a cookie the size of your head or a gooey caramel roll, baked fresh that morning.
Keys is a true diner. You seat yourself and try your best to get one of the cushy booths. That's hard most of the time, because Keys is both popular and tiny! From anywhere in the restaurant, you can see the kitchen and the waitress station. The waitstaff is not always the friendliest, but they do know the menu top to bottom, and try to meet your needs.
This location only serves breakfast and lunch, so they close at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. You can visit the Keys Cafe website for their story and other information.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 2, 2005
Keys Cafe & Bakery
1007 Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
A friend of mine used to tell me that Dulono's felt a lot like a backwoods, up north-type homey restaurant, so I thought I would check it out for myself. It's nothing special from the outside, but it does have a free parking lot, which in Uptown is rarer than a whale in the Mississippi River. Alas, Dulono's is nothing special from the inside, either.
Walking into Dulono's, it definitely feels like you've walked into a "up north" diner. The walls are wood-paneled, the carpet is dark, the tables are all dark wood and cafeteria-style, and you can see the kitchen from the front door. Unfortunately, the food is nothing special - they serve average pizzas, and other generic American entrees, like fried chicken. Everything tastes okay, it's just overloaded with grease and fat. The fried chicken is especially bland, because you can't taste anything over the frying.
Dulono's service isn't so hot, either. I once called in a takeout order, and was told it would be about 20 minutes. I showed up about 25 minutes later and ended up waiting another 15 minutes for my food - on a slow night! There were only two or three other customers in the restaurant the entire time I waited.
The one redeeming quality about Dulono's is the customer base. A few nights a month, a large group of motorcyclists all bring their bikes in and hang out at the bar. They're a cool, interesting group to chat with, and have some great motorcycles to look at! There is also a small bluegrass following that comes here on Friday and Saturday nights to listen to live music. Other than the people, Dulono's is not worth the trip.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 2, 2005
607 W Lake St
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Just south of downtown lies a little place called Eat Street. It's about 10 or 12 blocks long and has several dozen restaurants running along it. How do you know which one to pick? Well, if you're in the mood for good, cheap Asian food, Jasmine Deli is the place.
The food at Jasmine Deli is great and healthy. They specialize in Vietnamese-style soups and sandwiches, full of veggies and meat. Sandwiches give you a choice of pork or mock duck, while soups let you decide between egg or rice noodles. The soups are huge and give you plenty for leftovers.
The side items at Jasmine Deli are also amazing. The spring rolls taste like heaven and are filled to exploding. On the other end of the spectrum, salads give you a choice of noodles (again). No item on the menu is more than $5, and when I went with four other people, our total was $45 - that included appetizers, entrees, drinks, and tip! There are not many other places you can say that.
Jasmine Deli lives up to its name, in that the décor is sparse and you line up for takeout at a counter. The tables are all white Formica, but the large picture window gives a view of Nicollet from anywhere in the eatery.
There are only two disadvantages to this restaurant - the bathroom is sort of scuzzy, and they only accept cash. But if you pee before you go and hit up an ATM, you'll be full of hot food in no time!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 3, 2005
2532 Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Chino Latino is best known locally for its billboards. They have been construed by many as racist, and as such, the restaurant has toned down their advertising. But unfortunately, they haven’t changed their food, which leaves it mediocre.
Even though Chino Latino is squished among several other shops and restaurants, it is easy to find because of the flashy gold-lame exterior and valet parking. Walk inside and you’ll be overwhelmed by the posh atmosphere. Luxurious red curtains, dark-stained wood, and a full-mirrored bar are all part of the decor. The booths are quite plush, too, and feel private, which makes this restaurant good for a romantic evening.
If only the food matched the décor. Chino Latino is south-of-the-border eats, from places like Mexico, Thailand, and Jamaica. The main difference is that you’d pay less for food if you flew to any of those countries! All of the menu items sound delicious and spicy (satay, jerk chicken, coconut shrimp curry, and paella are a few), but there is a lack flavor. The food is so forgettable that I cannot remember what I ate last time I was here!
I have not had the pleasure of imbibing alcohol while at Chino Latino, so I can only say that the drinks look like they taste good. Then again, so does the food. Besides the fact that Chino Latino is a truly unique experience in the Twin Cities, the only other redeeming quality is the friendly staff. Sure, they are wannabe Uptown yuppies, but they can serve your meal with grace and great attitude.
You can visit Chino Latino online for more information.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 5, 2005
2916 Hennepin Ave South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
+1 612 824 7878
The Copper Dome is located in a quiet Saint Paul neighborhood across from a church, which may be part of the reason it draws such a crowd. On a Sunday morning, I had to wait almost 20 minutes for a table, and the line behind me was out the door.
The other reason Copper Dome probably has so much business is the selection of food! You can get anything from a crepe overstuffed with fruit (half- or full-sized) to traditional eggs and toast to just about any breakfast food your little heart desires. The food is good, hearty, warm in your tummy, and leaves you satisfied.
Nothing on the menu is terribly expensive, and even a large glass of orange juice is under $2. Even so, you can get almost anything in either a half or full portion. Full portions are huge, and half-portions aren't skimpy, either.
The Copper Dome is decorated like most breakfast joints. The vintage-style and wood-paneled walls lend it a homey feel, and there are tin signs and little trains everywhere, among other memorabilia. The waiting area is a bit small, with only a single bench.
There is only one downside to this breakfast joint: they don't take credit cards. In today's world, that's rather unusual, but they do have an ATM near the door.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 8, 2005
1333 Randolph Ave.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55105
Restaurant | "Cossetta's"
Cossetta's has picked the perfect location for its eatery,down the street from the Xcel Energy Center. Sure, there are a number of other places to eat nearby, but none so convenient as Cossetta's.
Because this Italian restaurant is set up deli-style, there is no waiting for a table or a wait staff to serve you. If you're going to an event at the Xcel, that is a blessing in disguise, since you know when your event begins.
When you enter Cossetta's, there are two lines. The first is for great homemade pizza with tons of toppings. The second line is for entrées, salads, and, well, everything else. Everything here is made by hand and tastes like it came straight from Sicily. There are mostaccolis, breadsticks, lasagnas, and every Italian dish your little heart desires. You can also get sandwiches done to your specifications - they have dozens of toppings!
Cossetta's doesn't have much cozy seating, as it is all deli tables. The lighting is also pretty bright. Try to sit on the second floor, though, as it gives you a great view of the hustle-and-bustle.
If you are not going to an event downtown, stop in the little grocery that Cossetta's has after you eat. You can pick up great little Italian finds you can't get anywhere else in the Twin Cities.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 9, 2005
Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria
211 West 7th Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Restaurant | "The Malt Shop"
On Snelling Avenue, in a sort of no-man's land between University and Grand, lies a little place called the Malt Shop. As you can tell just from the name, the Malt Shop is a no-frills, '50s-style burger place.
The decor at this restaurant is just what you'd expect: wood paneling, red vinyl booths, a formica counter, and a jukebox. The waitstaff is what you'd expect too: knowledgeable, but don't try to waste their time!
The hamburgers at the Malt Shop are big and filling, and you get a huge portion of french fries with your order. There are a choice of typical burger toppings, from a couple of types of cheese to ketchup, pickles, and onions. You also have a choice of burger sizes, ranging from 1/4 pound to a half pound monster.
If you're looking for a tasty Minnesota treat, this is one of the only places you can get fried cheese curds outside of the state fair. The Malt Shop does offer healthier options, too, like salads, soups, and grilled chicken sandwiches.
The only disappointing thing about the Malt Shop is... well, the malts. Sure, they are yummy, and you do have a variety of about 30 flavors to sip on. But, if you want to mix two flavors, it gets more expensive, and you don't get much more than a glass full of goodness. If you want a less expensive, larger, equally yummy malt or shake, head to one of the Snuffy's locations.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 15, 2005
809 West 50th St
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55426
+1 612 824 1352
Restaurant | "Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream"
Yummy! Ice cream and coffee are fantastic, and there are a plethora of both types of shops in Minneapolis and St. Paul. But where can you get both? Sebastian Joe's is the place to head for the best of both worlds.
This small shop is located just on the cusp of Uptown, near the freeway. Because of its delicious concoctions and location, Sebastian Joe's is the perfect place to stop for an after-dinner treat. There is seating inside and outside, but the outdoor tables are much better for people-watching and atmosphere. The indoor seats are a bit stale.
The ice cream here is rich, full of treats, and very tasty. You can get standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate, but take a risk and try a specialty flavor. They vary from time to time, but include items like bubblegum and chocolate amaretto. You can also get several different variety of cones.
I haven't had the pleasure of indulging in coffee at Sebastian Joe's, but I have heard that it's just as fantastic as the ice cream. Sebastian Joe's is extremely popular so you may have to wait in line to get your delicacy, but the staff is quick and the wait never seems to be more than 5 minutes.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2005
Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream Cafe
1007 W. Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405
Fuji Ya stands out, even from the outside, and even on Lake Street, where standout is king. The neon-red rice paper along the windows and bright interior make this Japanese restaurant easily distinguishable from anywhere else.
The interior is very muted, but very stylish. There is a large bar/sushi bar as you first walk in, highlighted in shades of blacks and reds. As you are seated, you notice that the private rooms look like a traditional tea house, although removing your shoes is optional at Fuji Ya. The seats and tables are light-colored and comfy, and you find yourself immediately at ease.
So, Fuji Ya has the decor right, but how is the food? It matches the atmosphere - excellent. Soba and Udon noodles make up the standard base for some entrées here, which include tempura, crab, and tuna. Other meals include roast duck, salmon, and teriyaki. I've had the shrimp and chicken tempuras, and they are both amazing - warm and filling.
Even though Fuji Ya does tons of amazing entrées, the real reason to go here is the sushi. For the less adventurous, there are spring rolls. If you're willing to try something spicier, try one of the sashimi platters. It's the chef's choice what you get, so it's always a surprise!
Fuji Ya also has a full bar, with many traditional Japanese sakes and beers. They also have a great wine selection. Visit the Fuji Ya website for a full menu and hours.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 23, 2005
600 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
Restaurant | "Davanni's"
Davanni’s has fantastic food and great customer service. Even with these assets to its name, Davanni’s is still the kind of place you want to order takeout or delivery from instead of eating at one of their restaurants.
I say that only because Davanni’s seems to put all of its effort into the food and staff and none into the decor. This is especially noticeable at the tiny Riverside location, where there are no more than 10 Formica tables surrounded with rock-hard chairs. The walls are nearly bare, and some of the tables are too close to the food prep and cashier area for comfort.
At Davanni’s, you order your food diner-style at a counter. They offer pizzas in thin, hand-tossed, or deep-dish crusts. They also have calzones stuffed with your choice of toppings and amazing hoagies. Each hoagie is drastically different, from the Turkey Bacon Chipotle to the standard Club–which comes with pepperoni! Every item is loaded with meat, cheese, and veggies of your choice, and the sauces are perfect.
The food here is always piping hot and made quickly. When I ordered takeout recently, I waited less than 10 minutes for two large hoagies and cheese bread. Your meal will also be reasonable priced–large hoagies that feed me twice are less than $7.
Davanni’s has several locations throughout the area, which deliver to most of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Visit the Davanni's website for locations and menu.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 29, 2005
Davanni's Pizza & Hot Hoagies
2500 Riverside Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454
Dixie’s on Grand is not for every Midwesterner. Many of us have never tried good, down-home, Southern-style cooking. But, if you’re looking for a touch of the South away from home, or you want a hearty, well-cooked meal, try Dixie’s!
This restaurant is located on trendy Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and it’s sort of surprising that Dixie’s has been such a success next to uber-fashionable Saji-Ya and down the road from hip joints like Billy’s. I think the food here stands the test of time, though, and the Dixie’s staff has perfected a meal.
If you really want a treat, try one of the full dinners here. Each meal comes with biscuits and two sides–mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, black-eyed peas, and barbequed beans are a few of the choices. The chicken fried steak is warm, tender, and extremely filling. Other meal choices include blackened catfish and jambalaya chicken. Dixie’s also offers ribs, burgers, and other sandwiches as meal choices that are a little less pricey.
Dixie’s has a patio for eating outside in the warm summer months. The humidity in Minnesota can be comparable to many southern states in July and August, so you can get that true Southern feel! Go to the Dixie's on Grand website for a menu and concert schedule.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 29, 2005
Dixie's on Grand
695 Grand Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55105
Totino’s is a small, charming restaurant that has a great family story to go along with it. This Italian eatery produced the pizzas of the same name, and has been in business in the same Northeast location for more than 50 years.
The reason this restaurant has managed to stay prosperous is because it offers good, tasty, inexpensive foods for an entire range of tastes. Totino’s does both carry-out and dine-in orders, and all of their food is available either way. They make pizzas, ravioli, meatball sandwiches, fettucine alfredo, and many other traditional Italian dishes.
You won’t find any new dishes here, just the classics. Everything tastes delicious, just like home-cooked Italian food should be – heavy on tomatoes and carbohydrates! The ravioli combination is one of the more expensive items on the menu, but it’s your best bet, since you get both ravioli and spaghetti. This dish still comes in under $10.
Totino’s décor is exactly what you’d hope for in a traditional locale, too. Candles on the tables, dark red booths, and red tablecloths accent the dining area. You can’t miss finding Totino’s with the giant chef painted on the side of the building – and if you do, just stop and ask directions, because everyone in the area has eaten there at least once.
Totino’s also has a decent-sized wine list and a small selection of beers. Check out the Totino's website for their menu and family story.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 13, 2005
Totino's Italian Kitchen
532 Central Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
Flameburger is a 24-hour burger joint, and that should say it all. If that statement doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, feel free to read the rambling that follows.
Flameburger is smaller inside than it looks from the outside. There are about 10 tables/booths, and a counter that seats five or six. Every expense was spared on décor here – the booths are wooden without cushions, there are two small TVs mounted in the corners, and the kitchen is separated from the dining area by a 3-foot-tall wall. I’m not even sure if they have bathrooms. But there is a jukebox that has a lot of classic music on it.
The food here is strictly burgers and breakfasts. Breakfast is served anytime, and the Ranch is definitely worth your time. It’s under $7 for two eggs, four slices of toast, sausage or bacon, and a mound of hashbrowns.
Burgers are pretty typical fare, but portions are huge and inexpensive. Everything is named after the “flame” – the Cheese Flame, the Classic Flame – you name it, they flame it. You can pick from 1/4 pound burger up to a 2/3 pound monster.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 28, 2005
2534 Rice St
St. Paul, Minnesota
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 5, 2006
Supatra's Thai Cuisine
967 West 7th Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
If you take a drive down Franklin Avenue, you may start to notice a lingering… smell. It fills your nostrils, causing you to lose concentration and swerve to avoid fire hydrants. That smell is warm, fresh-baked, delicious goods from the Franklin Street Bakery.
The bakery used to be located just down the street, in a teeny tiny shop connected to a Laundromat. Except for the heavenly smell, you would have driven right by the old Franklin Street Bakery. Just a couple of years ago, though, the bakery hired on a new chef and built a spiffy new location. Now you can see (and smell!) it from several blocks away.
This bakery has every delicacy you can imagine. Bread, donuts, croissants, cakes, cupcakes, pies, éclairs, and tarts are just some of the many items you can partake in while visiting. Flavors range from berries, always fresh, to chocolate, cream, lemon, and more. The options are endless at Franklin Street, and always melt in your mouth. You may be doubling your calorie intake for the day, but it’s well worth it!
Franklin Street Bakery also does made-to-order cakes at a reasonable price. I had a specialty cake decorated with chocolate shavings and berries for less than $30. The cake easily fed 15 people. They can turn around your special order in 2 to 3 days, too, which is phenomenal!
The retail portion also carries sandwiches for the lunchtime crowd, and has several small tables that they set outside in warmer weather. If you need to wash down your rich concoction, Franklin Street also makes coffee drinks.
Just hop on Franklin Avenue and you'll see what I mean about the smell. Stop in for a tasty treat at the Franklin Street Bakery and you won’t be disappointed!
Franklin Street Bakery
1020 East Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
When I walk in to this tiny Northeast neighborhood store, I half expect my friend’s portly Italian grandma sitting behind the counter, singing "When the Moon Hits Your Eye." Instead, I find the second-best thing: an older Italian gentleman who asks you to sample everything and gives the best recipes this side of Sicily.
There is barely enough room to turn around in Delmonico’s, but the owners cram in a ton of Italian goodies and delicacies. Many things are homemade, including some of the pasta, sandwiches, meatballs, and – spumoni. Even with limited space, they manage to blend deli and grocery, and it melds perfectly.
The meatballs at Delmonico’s are out of this world and reasonably priced. Spiced just right, they cook to perfection and are about $3 a pound. Pick up some provolone and bread here and you’ve got the best meatball subs money can buy. Or toss them on a pile of al dente rigatoni – Mama Mia! If you don’t believe me, take a sample first. The folks at Delmonico’s will let you sample just about anything they make.
Delmonico’s keeps limited hours and can be tough to find, but ask any local where it is and you’ll find that it’s well worth the trip! There is no website for directions and hours, but you can call them at 612/331-5466.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 9, 2005
Delmonico's Italian Foods
1112 Summer St. NE
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413
Saint Paul, Minnesota