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Holy Street Food Batman! Hot Dog Cart Sighting in St Paul

Amazingly, I found that there's a Mexican woman who goes up and down the Hispanic businesses on Central Ave. selling hot tamales. The whole thing is pretty clandestine, but I think it's a regular thing around 5 pm, when people are getting off from work. I was in Durango Bakery buying some pan dulce and there were a few people in the bakery just visiting and chatting, one of them the woman with a large cooler. She didn't speak English, but one of the guys there did and he asked if we like Mexican food. She opened the cooler and it was totally full of piping hot tamales! She offered us a pepper and cheese one to taste and we bought a dozen assorted ones on the spot. They were every bit as good as the ones I had when I was in MX (though she didn't have mole ones--my favorite).

It would be so great if this was a more common occurrence in the Twin Cities, and more well-established. What keeps street vendors from operating here? I've only seen the apple fritters at the farmer's market. Is this a zoning thing? Is it the low pedestrian density? If only this woman knew how many people would love to buy her hot tamales and she was able to set up something better than lugging a cooler around door-to-door. Maybe this particular person wouldn't want to grow her business that way, but what keeps other people from doing so?

Oct 04, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Barbary Fig, St. Paul: candid review

Do NOT go to the Barbary Fig. I remember eating there almost 10 years ago, when I had recently graduated high school. It seemed overpriced to me then, as nearly everything did at that age, but I couldn't remember much about the quality of the food. When a friend asked to meet us there I should have figured that if I didn't return within those 10 years there must have been a reason.

Sure enough, it was awful. The word 'mediocre' has been used above, but considering how long this place has been around and how many absurdly glowing reviews you can find of it online, I think a stronger word should be used.

Two of us got the special, lamb with baby fava beans, yams, and basmati rice, and the other two in our party got the chicken tagine and the lamb sausage with couscous. All of the dishes were tasteless, using low-quality ingredients, seemed warmed-up rather than cooked, and were served without any kind of presentation. The price, relative to other places you could eat on Grand Ave. wasn't that bad, but when you consider the terrible food, was ridiculous.

Lamb should be naturally flavorful, but what I had seemed like it had been boiled (instead of 'roasted', as the menu claimed). I expected fresh fava beans, since it's summertime, or at least something other than the tasteless canned ones that were scattered around the plate, seemingly directly out of the can and into a microwave. The rice underneath the dish was also flavorless and sort of hard and watery at the same time...like rice that's been re-heated out of the fridge. The yams? What bits of yam I could find were pureed and squirted seemingly at random on the plate. To make the food edible I had to salt it heavily.

The tagine was the only dish with a modicum of flavor, but it wasn't at all what I think of when I picture a tagine. It was served like the lamb special: a few things glopped on the plate in a big mess. The chicken was in stringy chunks and doused in black pepper-heavy harissa. The only nod to vegetables were a few chopped, stewed tomatoes. It was really just unbelieveable. I didn't try the lamb sausage and couscous dish, but my companion reported that it was as bad as everything else.

The service was decent, but it was sad to see these friendly and attentive waitresses dishing out such abhorrent slop. It was nice dining outside, but our tables and chairs were woefully flimsy and unbalanced. We also had the experience of the staff closing up long before the listed closing time, which made for an awkward after-dinner conversation.

Overall, the experience was so bad as to be amusing in retrospect. It was a bummer, though, since none of us are in a position to be dining out a lot and we 'used up' one of our nice meals for the month. None of us are super picky and don't require a restaurant to present everything like a work of art or use the hippest new ingredients. We just wanted something better-than-decent for the price and we were sorely disappointed.

What I really don't understand are the glowing reviews you can find online when you google Barbary Fig...are these just written by shills?

Aug 24, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Advice for a newbie pickler

Like beggsy said, something flexible like a wooden skewer. You can also use a plastic knife, very small spatula, chopstick, etc... Just make sure to dip it in the boiling water for a while to sterilize it.

As long as the jars seal you're probably fine. I tossed my okra because a lot of it was poking out of the vinegar solution, and it's a low-acidity vegetable. I think my mistake was a) packing them in too tight, and b) not slitting them down the side to allow them to fill with liquid.

Beyond air bubbles, I haven't had too much else go wrong--I haven't even had problems getting my jars to seal. The only other issues I've had were the quality of the produce I used. For example, one year I received a bushel of tomatoes (yikes) that had been picked right after a big rainfall. They had a ton of water in them, so it took a really long time to boil them down into ketchup and the crushed tomatoes I canned had a layer of pale water at the top, but everything tasted fine in the end. Another issue I encountered was making some brine pickles with a friend during a dry year, and while their interior tasted good, the skins were too tough and I threw the rest away after picking out the smaller, more tender cukes.

I think green tomatoes are a good choice for gifts. They're pretty high acidity so they're a safe bet. Beets aren't high in acidity but I've always had good luck canning them, probably because they stack easily and are dense, so there aren't problems with air bubbles.

Like I said before, if you are in doubt, you can keep the jars in the refrigerator to play it extra safe. Also, make sure to follow the directions carefully...when you first start off you should avoid improvising. Even when you're more comfortable with it, it's still safest to follow guidelines for acidity and salinity. That said, don't be too intimidated by it all. After all, humans have been in the food-preserving business for thousands of years and we're still around.

Aug 14, 2008
tasmonia in Home Cooking

Advice for a newbie pickler

Do you have any specific questions? I'd be happy to answer them.

Aug 14, 2008
tasmonia in Home Cooking

Advice for a newbie pickler

Quick pickles are definitely easy and a good introduction to pickling. I would recommend getting a book on pickling from the library (or buying one) and following that. I have "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Ziedrich and I just adore it. It has a good combination of advice, general recipes, and more creative ones, and all of them are designed for quantities suitable for a couple or small family. The benefit of getting a whole book is that it focuses on techniques and troubleshooting in a way that can be hard to find online.

It sounds like you're looking for advice right now, though, and the best thing I can tell you is to have everything set up and ready before you begin. Think through the process you're going to use step by step and visualize how you're going to do it. This way you are less likely to make a preventable error or find out that you're missing a component.

Another recommendation is making sure that you insert something flexible in the sides of the jar (make sure to sterilize it) to work loose any air bubbles before putting the caps on. I forgot that once and had to toss a whole batch of canned okra that had too much of a gap at the top.

Also, many pickle recipes only need to water bath canned if you're going to store them on the shelf. If you're going to keep them in the fridge, you may not need to can them. That might be a good option if you want to use up some cukes but are intimidated by canning.

Aug 13, 2008
tasmonia in Home Cooking

MSP: The Fall of Saigon

That end of the block is going to be torn down? I had no idea! I've moved several times in the past few months and I'm out of touch with what's going on in that area. I noticed that Foodsmart is getting pretty freaky too. Is this to do with the Lightrail?

Jul 27, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP: The Fall of Saigon

I am sad to report that I have gone to Saigon Restaurant on University and Dale in St Paul for the last time. It used to be my favorite pho restaurant--my go-to for Vietnamese and where I would send friends for a good meal. They used to have the best broth on University, they're the only place I've found spring rolls with sizzling grilled (rather than roasted) pork inside, and at certain times of the day you could get sandwiches and pastries there too. I probably started going in '99 or '00.

Now though, it is dismal. Their service is competent, if a bit brusque, and food arrives quickly, but that's where the good ends. The last time I went the broth was still OK but there was hardly any meat. I know food prices are insane, so I was like, fine...I'll just get extra meat next time. This time my BF and I both got pho tai, large, with extra meat. They have increased their prices by 75 cents for all entrees (a long-due change), so I figured that with the increased price and extra meat it would be a hearty meal. Nope :(

The amount of meat was less than on my previous visit, and sliced so thin the pieces balled up and stuck to each other. The broth was completely bland, no matter how many sauces and garnishes I added, and had a disturbing dishwater-esque cloudiness. It just didn't seem right. Even my beloved spring rolls were a flop--the pork was overcooked and charred on the edges.

The disappointment got me to looking around and I realized what a dump the place is. The floor was completely filthy and so were the lower walls. There was a mysterious vat of brown sauce sitting out on top of a pile of newspapers and phonebooks by the backdoor. The staff were eating and drinking behind the counter, and coming and going from the building willy-nilly, many of them in flip flops. My BF ventured in the men's bathroom and he came back saying it had the worst smell he'd ever encountered, and every other guy who came out of there did so with a sour look on their faces (and you could hear everyone spraying air freshener when they went in). I didn't even try the ladies' room.

I know Saigon is suffering--they keep increasing the minimum credit card charge and no longer accept checks at all. The prices are going up while the quality goes down and they no longer seem to offer bakery goods. They've started offering boba tea, which smacks of the last desperate act of a restaurant trying to branch out into overpriced drinks. I was amazed when Hoa Bien on Lexington & University expanded into its swanky new building after being a dingy shack in a cracking parking lot for so long. It could be that they've grabbed all the customers seeking Vietnamese on Univ. Ave, and it can snag them before they head all the way east to Dale. Hoa Bien's broth doesn't match what Saigon's was in its heyday, and their staff seem more befuddled and unwelcoming, but at least it's clean and has many dependably good restaurant items.

At this point I couldn't take a friend to Saigon or ever recommend it. I'm sorry to say that Saigon has fallen.

Anyone else with similar or contrasting experiences in recent months there?

Jul 26, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Rochester, MN update

I just moved to the area (Zumbrota) and I haven't explored Rochester much. I went to Prescott's last night and it was fabulous! A better experience, IMHO than many similar places in Mpls. The service was excellent. I got a perfectly cooked sirloin peppercorn steak and loved it. The sides were fantastic too: grilled local spring onions, fettucini (seemed home made?) tossed with zucchini and edamame. The bread was good, the coffee was good (didn't sample the wine list). Overall a great place. It was a bit spendy, but my mom was treating me :) I recommend it for a nice night out--don't let the seedy discount mall it's located in fool you!

Jul 18, 2008
tasmonia in Great Lakes

MSP: Chai's Thai Restaurant (Cedar/Riverside)

I just went to Chai last Thursday with my family. I used to frequent the Korean place that was in this location, so I was interested to find out what the place had to offer. I'm not a huge fan of Thai food, but I was along for the ride.

The Good:
The service was great--very friendly and attentive, and a stark contrast from the previous owners (an elderly couple who didn't speak much English). The decor was worlds better and they did a great job for such a small space.

We started with spring rolls and beef 'jerky', which were both good. The rolls were fresh and flavorful, with nice sauces, and the beef was piping hot and crispy.

My brother got the pad kee mao with beef and my other brother got duck with basil leaves. Both were tasty and in reasonable portions.

The Bad:

I got the larb beef salad and chicken satay and my mom got tempura battered shrimp with pad Thai. Admittedly, I asked for the larb to be hot, but it was way WAY too hot (and I'm no spicy wimp). To cut the heat I ordered some sticky rice, but they had run out and so I waited until they finished steaming a new batch (they said it would be 10 minutes). By the time I got it, everyone had finished eating and so I just had it boxed to go. In my opinion, larb should come with sticky rice anyway.

The chicken stay was some of the worst I've had. They didn't cook it on high enough heat so it just seemed steamed and tasteless. Sort of how I'd imagine the Lutheran picnic version of chicken satay.

My mom's pad thai was unbelievably sweet--almost like a dessert. I've had some iffy pad thai in my time and this was the worst. The tempura shrimp were huge, but basically what you'd expect.

Overall:

These folks seem to know more about presentation and service than about making food. The quality of the dishes varies considerably, but the place may improve with time. In response to the restroom issue, I needed to use it and they told me to go through the kitchen and downstairs. So there is one available, but it's just not convenient. I got to see the kitchen, which looked clean and well-organized, so I wouldn't worry about the safety of the food.

May 31, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - What to eat between St Paul and Hudson?

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!

The four of us wound up going to Winzer Stube in Hudson, a German restaurant.

The food was decent but not amazing. The prices were on the high end of reasonable, but didn't bankrupt us. I got veal schnitzel over spaetzle, which came with a side of braised red cabbage. The portion size was large, which was perfect because I was super hungry. The dish was good but lacked some flavor punch and the spaetzle were strangely uniform. Two of my companions got the goulash, which came in surprisingly small portions and were also a bit bland. Our other friend got the salmon special, which looked tasty but didn't come with much on the side except a few chopped raw veggies.

I suspect that they have an uninspired chef and unadventurous clientèle, which results in an unremarkable meal. The service was very good, though, and they put up with us staying late and chatting on a week night. Not a bad experience, but not a great one either. This place might be good in a pinch, but don't go out of your way for it.

May 28, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - What to eat between St Paul and Hudson?

Thanks! I didn't realize that there's a Tea House in that area. I love the one in Plymouth. Also thanks for the link to the other thread--I did some searches but couldn't find much and was having trouble narrowing it.

May 20, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - What to eat between St Paul and Hudson?

We live in the North 'Burbs and our friend lives in Menomonie, and we're looking for a few places to eat somewhere between here and there, especially in St Paul. I'm not too sure what the far East Side and surrounding area have to offer. The East Side of SP, Maplewood, Oakdale, Woodbury, Hudson...anything along that way is fair game.

Right now we're thinking Singapore Chinese Cuisine in Maplewood. If you have strong feelings about that place, please let me know!

We're not looking for anything fancy, just good, honest food. Burgers, pasta, Asian, whatever.

A few more suggestions would be great so we have ideas for the future.

May 19, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Dinner on West Side of Mpls.

If you're interested in Chinese, try the Tea House. Check out their authentic menu (they have a westernized one too) for some good eats. If you're going on Friday night, make a reservation, but still be prepared to wait--they get really busy.

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Tea House Chinese Restaurant
88 Nathan Ln N, Minneapolis, MN 55441

Apr 01, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Most Controversial food opinion MPLS/St. Paul Edition

Wow I think there have been some really good points made here. (OJ thanks for "A big town full of small town people"). I definitely think that the food scene in MN is emerging, just as in many other parts of the US. So much of the America we know today was built in the post-war boom that emphasized convenience, food science from big corporations, and 'fortifying' processed food. The US is still a young country and it's taking time to develop a mature cuisine. In the end it will be amazing (in many ways it already is!) because we have a large and diverse nation that gives us so much material to work with.

One issue with developing haute cuisine in the Twin Cities is that Minnesotans are a very pragmatic people. Even the hoity toity types from Summit Ave or Lake Minnetonka aren't interested in paying New York prices for a meal, at least not more than once a year. It's no wonder places like Aquavit never survive (and they even pandered to the MN obsession with Scandinavia!). Furthermore, the majority of Minnesotans are averse to pretense...they're not interested in 'tablescapes' or seawater-flavored foam or whatever avant garde fad is sweeping NYC. That stuff might be interesting to the hipster urban types who worship NYC and Chicago, but those people are by far the minority here, and most Minnesotans wish they would simply move to the large cities they revere instead of complaining about how MN isn't NYC.

For me personally I'm happy with cheaper comfort food and less-pretentious places. I don't want haute cuisine to dominate here. I'd rather just go to a fish fry at the American Legion than drop $150 on a meal for 2 at Oceanaire. I cook a lot, so the push for more local food and farmer's markets is enough for me. Perhaps restaurants can add to that trend, but I think it comes from the grassroots and what shoppers demand at the market. Overall I'm happy with the food scene here and I'm happy that people are showing more interest in what they put into their bodies. I just know that Minnesotans are aware that no matter what they eat, it all winds up in the same place, so there's a limit to how much ado they'll make about their food.

Apr 01, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Most Controversial food opinion MPLS/St. Paul Edition

I'd like to go a step further and state that Thai food is completely overrated. Personally, I blame it on the vegetarians (while we're being controversial). Maybe it's fabulous in Thailand--my Thai roommate has made some pretty good stuff--but the stuff I get in restaurants is so mediocre. This goes even more so for Sawatdee.

Other opinions:

-There is no Italian food worth leaving the house for in this town.

-All the restaurants in Dinkytown suck, unless you're getting the student discount + lunch menu at Loring Pasta Bar--at least it's cheap.

-Hotdish can be really good--stop being an elitist snob.

-If you think wild rice is meh, then try to get some freshly harvested because it will blow your mind.

-You're insane if you wait in line for breakfast at Al's Breakfast. Completely insane.

-Brasa is a good idea, but the meat is completely mediocre and the sides are outrageously small (c'mon I could make red beans and rice for 50 people for that price).

-The sushi here is lackluster and very expensive.

-Why isn't the asian/latin fusion fad over with?

-Instead of complaining about how chains are the downfall of cuisine, remember that people like them because they're typically consistent and offer friendly service. I'd would much rather go to California Pizza Kitchen and get a delicious pizza for a reasonable price, served with a smile than be abused by some gutter punk at Pizza Luce for middle-of-the-road-yet-expensive food.

Ok that was a lot of complaining. On the plus side I'll list the places that I consistently leave happy and sated:

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Scott Ja-Mama's Barbecue
3 W Diamond Lake Rd, Minneapolis, MN 55419

Tea House Chinese Restaurant
88 Nathan Ln N, Minneapolis, MN 55441

Anoka Meat and Sausage
478 West Main Street, Anoka, MN 55303

Kramarczuk Sausage Co
215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

Dong Yang Oriental Food
735 45th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

Saigon Restaurant & Bakery - duplicate
601 University Ave, W St Paul, MN

Foodsmart
544 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN

Pyramid's Cafe
4921 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

Mar 30, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

[msp] butcher shop/local meat/etc

Since you're in NE, Ready Meats will be the closest, but if you're up for a drive, I'd recommend the Anoka Meat market. I like their products better than Ready's and they have better selection of smoked meats and beef sticks. I don't know how much or their meat is pasture-raised or local, but they do have some kind of Amish chickens which I think are great. http://anokameats.com/

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Anoka Meat and Sausage
478 West Main Street, Anoka, MN 55303

Mar 05, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Review: Brasa Rotisserie [MSP]

I guess I should have listened to the negative reviews, because this place was a disappointment. We wound up trying it out though, out of lack of ideas and because it's in the neighborhood.

The wait was very long, though it's our own fault for not making reservations. The staff were struggling to keep up with the Saturday crush. They had run out of pork, which was a bummer for me, since I'd had my heart set on it.

The food was just plain mediocre and the portions were WAY too small, especially since they're el cheapo ingredients! I got cheesy grits and fried plantains as my sides and my BF got greens and red beans + rice. My sides were done well but I wanted about 30% more of each. BF's sides were even more paltry and not nearly as good. The rice seemed boxed and the collards were slimy and overly smoky.

The chicken was inconsistent: the drumsticks were great but the breast was dried out. There's a chicken rotisserie up Marshall that makes them much better. Hell even Rainbow's are pretty good for an easy meal.

Also, the Coke wasn't chilled (they probably ran out and threw a few more in the cooler only a short while before).

Overall, I like the concept and I think it could work, but it's clear they're trying to shove simple , cheap ethnic cooking into the overpriced, small-portion bobo mold. It left me feeling taken advantage of and not quite full. I guess I shouldn't be surprised with the way the neighborhood is going.

Feb 02, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Twin Cities: Need a Pho Update

Another lover of Saigon chiming in. Definitely give it a try, and make sure to order the grilled pork springrolls too!

Jan 29, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP: Empanada Dough

I just saw some empanada wrappers at Cosecha Imports at the Midtown Global Market. I'm not sure if it was the brand you're looking for (a blue package I think?), but I can confirm they had them in the freezer case. Good luck!

Jan 26, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - Where to find real lard?

Update: I just found lard from two shops in the Midtown Global Market, so thanks for the tips Chowhounders! Bymore meats had it good and cheap and in the refrigerated section, and Farm in the Market had it frozen for an outrageous price. I splurged and decided to try both to compare. I'll let you know how my biscochitos turn out!

Jan 26, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Southeast Asian fruits in MSP/STP

You could also try Dragon Star foods, off of Dale and Mineahaha (near Pierce Butler Route). They usually have a pretty varied selection of fruit and veg. I've gotten green mangoes, lychees, and rambutan there, and I've also seen them carying non-frozen durian. I think mangosteen may be close to impossible to find, though--I've never seen it in the US.

Jan 25, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - Where to find real lard?

Oooh good to know! Thanks Churchka!

Jan 22, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP - Where to find real lard?

Does anyone know where real lard can be found in Minneapolis or St Paul? I'm not talking the partially hydrogenated Snowcap or Armour Star brands, but higher quality "artisanal" stuff?

My friend from New Mexico was waxing poetic about the countless types of lard available to her and I was wondering if that kind of thing could be had in the Twin Cities. I'm guessing Lake St, but before I go on a wild goose chase I thought I'd post my question here.

Jan 21, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Making Tea with Fresh Mint - how to?

When I was in Jordan, tea was often poured over fresh mint leaves (just put a sprig in each cup) or over fresh or dried sage leaves (same method). Apparently the sage is a Bedouin thing--tastes odd at first but grows on you. And the tea was ALWAYS completely saturated with sugar. If you ask for it without sugar they look at you funny.

Jan 16, 2008
tasmonia in Home Cooking

looking to hear from fans of Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches

Oooh I think Jimmy John's is the best overall of the sandwich chains. Erbert's and Gerbert's makes a really good turkey and sprouts, but I'm not sure if that's a chain or just by the U of MN, and their overall quality isn't as high as JJ. I liked Big Mike's Super Subs when it existed, but it went downhill fast. I have only eaten at Potbelly Sandwich a few times and liked it, but the ambience was a big much. I think Subway is the lowest of the low and I would rather go hungry than eat there.

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in Chains

Kansas Citians moving to MN! Need new resturaunts!!

ALERT! Fasika is the place I went to just last week, and I have to say that the Ultimate Combination was disappointing. My mom got the Chicken Tibs & Rice and everyone was stealing from her platter because it was so good. I'd skip the combo and just get a few entrees you know you'll like. We're definitely going back for more chicken tibs.

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP-- looking for good english/irish bar food

I just had a lousy experience at Claddagh in MG last week. We'd eaten there right when they put it in and it seemed good, but when we went a second time all the food was overpriced and not that great. I got the corned beef and cabbage at it was (amazingly) undersalted and overall lacking in flavor and overcooked. The shepherd's pie was skimpy and the only thing that seemed to be enjoyed was the BBQ chicken sandwhich, which isn't Irish at all. In the end I wish we'd just driven to Mpls to go to the Local.

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Kansas Citians moving to MN! Need new resturaunts!!

Hoa Bien has moved into a new space that is much bigger and less freaky than the tiny shack it used to be in. It's my #2 pho restaurant, and the one I bring people to if I don't want to keep heading east to Dale or if I'm eating with people who would be weirded out by Saigon (it's not that bad...just a divey old seafood restaurant).

At Hoa Bien I *wouldn't* recommend the grill-it-yourself option. It's a hassle and you're likely to get more hungry in the process than the resulting food would satisfy. Besides, isn't the point of eating out that you don't have to cook? It looks nifty when you see other people doing it, though.

People keep saying the Barbary Fig isn't too expensive, by my experience a few years ago were high prices and small portions, but that was a while ago and maybe I'm just really cheap.

I second checking out the Midtown Global Market since you can basically find all the international options you just listed under one roof, plus tons of other stuff.

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Midtown Global Market
2929 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

Kansas Citians moving to MN! Need new resturaunts!!

1. I`m afraid there is none better than Tea House in Plymouth for Szechuan food, but apparently they have a location in St Paul, which I haven`t tried, so I would check it out. I also like Hong Kong Noodle in Stadium Village (by the U of M) for coastal style Chinese.

2. While I've had good Ethiopian food, the service has always been horrible. You can try the Blue Nile, but there are some more hole-in-the-wall places in Cedar Riverside that are good (but again, terrible service). I just went somewhere on Snelling and University, and their food varied wildly in quality (the chicken platter was good but the grand sampler was meh).

3. Saigon noodle on University and Dale is my all-time fave. I'm not too impressed by the places on Eat Street.

4. There's a place on 49th and Central (Columbia Heights) called Nala Pak. They had a fire and moved and have had a few re-models, but they make great Southern Indian food that's a bit different from the usual Indian we get here. You can also try Chutney's on 37th and Central for a bit more standard fare, and very friendly service.

5. I like Pizza Luce for pizza, and if I can put up with the pretentious bobos, Punch's Woodfire Pizza. Honestly, though I usually go to California Pizza Kitchen if I'm outside of the city (in Maple Grove). I like basic burgers, so I go to Porky's, which I think is moving up to Central Ave. Another good option for both is Psycho Suzie's Motor Lounge, again in NE.
6. Hmm, this I just make myself.

The rest aren't really my style, and I'm sure you can find recommendations for them from other folks. I'm having spotty luck with the linking feature, so sorry if I don't have links for all the places. Also, there are a lot of Hmong here who moved to the US from Laos, so I think it's easier to find Lao food than Thai. They're similar cuisines, but not exactly the same. The best approach is to just try out all the mom&pop places on University in St Paul. I'm not wild about Thai food and I think Sawatdee is awful.

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Tea House
1676 Suburban Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge and Tiki Garden
2519 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive

MSP: quiet dinner

I would try out The Sample Room in NE Mpls (on University Ave). My mom and I went there looking for a nice, quiet weeknight dinner and it was good. It`s fun because they have a tasting menu (as well as one with regular entrees). The ribs were mediocre but I got the tasting platters and all the things I picked were good. It was quiet and the servers were adept.

Jan 15, 2008
tasmonia in General Midwest Archive