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Looking for best BBQ brisket

Mr. Barbecue, in Columbia Heights on Central Ave. They have very good beef brisket as well as a bunch of other yummy stuff.

The place looks like a rundown chain. It's not. The food is actually really good, with even the side items and sauces made from scratch on the premises.

Mr. Barbecue
4621 Central Ave NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421

May 18, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Chocolatiers in Minneapolis

This is probably inconvenient, considering your lack of a car, but if you could make it over to Saint Paul, there is a very nice chocolatier on University Ave, about half way between the two downtowns: Chocolat Celeste.

Chocolat Celeste
2506 University Ave, W St Paul, MN

May 11, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

best of Nicollet Mall area

You mean Fogo de Chao? It's pretty good in my book, while at the same time being a bit of a crowd pleaser for all palates.... except perhaps for vegetarians. Even the salad bar is worth seeing, and I usually hate salad bars. I wouldn't consider it a tourist trap.

However, there is nothing especially "Minnesota" about it, and it's not a cheap dinner. But it's fun. The food is good. You could have quite a nice evening there.

Other steakhouse spots with more of a local feel not far away would be Manny's & Murrays. Manny's is the more modern and typically higher rated of the two, but Murray's is a Minneapolis classic and nothing to sneer at. If you're a tourist who wants a Minneapolis experience, I'd consider one of those two. If you're just after good food and a fun time, Fogo de Chao deserves a thought as well.

Fogo De Chao
645 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Manny's Steakhouse
825 Marquette Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55402

Murray's Restaurant & Cocktail
24 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

May 03, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

La Loma Tamales - Downtown MPLS Location

I'm very much in agreement. My fondness for the Oaxacan tamales has only grown since I first posted about them. It's a truly fantastic dish. I have one for lunch at least once a week now. Sometimes I buy them frozen and take them home for dinner as well (they make really good patio food as the weather warms, fyi).

Can we attribute all the downtown food revival to the Twins relocating nearby? Or is it just a happy coincidence?

Apr 22, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

La Loma Tamales - Downtown MPLS Location

I saw the burritos. They've got a "we look like Chipotle so don't be scared to approach" thing going. Probably a good business plan for downtown. But since their specialty is the tamales that's all I've been trying so far. I'll get to the burrito fillings out of curiosity at some point.

The Oaxacan tamale is spicy and filling and really good. I bought some frozen ones after work tonight to take home for dinner. I liked them even better the second time. The family agreed, though they were a bit too spicy for some.

For lunch today I tried a chicken tamale with the green salsa, and the vegetarian tamale with the spicy red salsa. They were both distinct. That chicken tamale with the green salsa is pretty special. Hard to choose between that and the Oaxacan for me at the moment as my favorite. The vegetarian one was good also, but lacked a depth of flavor the meat filled tamales possessed.

Apr 08, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

La Loma Tamales - Downtown MPLS Location

This week La Loma Tamales opened in the former "El Burrito" location in the Northstar Tower food court in downtown Minneapolis. It's on the ground floor, but skyway accessible by escalator.

Today I ordered the Oaxacan tamale for 3 bucks and change (that's the most expensive tamale on the menu). It came wrapped in a banana leaf with a side of an (not terribly hot) orange colored salsa. It might be the best "3 bucks and change" meal I have ever found downtown. I wasn't blown away by it compared to a five star meal. But this was cheap. It was genuinely good. It was from a lunch counter. And... it was interesting. Did I mention I paid three bucks and change?

I am no tamale expert, but this seems like pretty unique stuff in the world of downtown skyway cuisine. In an arena of Taco Bell and Taco John's type "Mexican" (both of which are nearby in the skyway), this seems the real thing. However I'm no final judge after tasting one tamale on their opening week. What do others think?

(This is apparently an expansion of the Mercado Central La Loma Cafeteria and Midtown Exchange La Loma Tamales restaurant locations, neither of which I have any experience with. Please chime in if you do.).

La Loma Tamales
920 E Lake St Ste 160, Minneapolis, MN 55407

La Loma Restaurant
1510 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Mercado Central
1515 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Apr 07, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Current Korean in MSP?

Don't fear Fridley. It's friendly.

Seriously, others have mentioned a place in Columbia Heights (a.k.a. South Fridley) which I have yet to check out, but neither downtown is known for good Korean if that's what you're looking for. If you must stick to Saint Paul or Minneapolis, may I suggest you introduce your mom to Vietnamese instead? You'll have a lot more options.

Apr 01, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Favorite Wine Bar Twin Cities

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe is my current favorite. Casual. Good food. Good wine prices. Interesting selection. Not fussy or pretentious.

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe
415 N 1st St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Apr 01, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

any good bars/eateries in the fridley area?

Starting from Fridley and heading south on Central there are some great spots.

In Fridley itself there's

Kings Korean - the best Korean in the metro, IMHO.
A Taste of Thailand (on University, not Central) - not the best Thai, but pretty darned good for the suburbs.

Heading south into Columbia Heights there's:

Nala Pak - really good southern Indian. The kind of vegetarian even non-vegetarians enjoy.
Mr. Barbecue - A really good non-chain bbq place that makes their own sauces and sides from scratch.

Kings is the only one among them that tends to be truly expensive, but that's only if you order the expensive items. There's plenty of terrific food there very cheap.

Kings Restaurant
1051 Moore Lake Dr E, Minneapolis, MN 55432

Nala Pak
4920 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421

Taste of Thailand II
7890 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55432

Mr. Barbecue
4621 Central Ave NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421

Mar 18, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Mn beer and wine

I suppose it depends on what you're looking for. If you just want the best wine to drink period, then mid-western states probably aren't worth exploring when you could choose something from an established wine region like California or Washington. But if you like to explore variety and try different things, there are some interesting wines to sample here which you'll not find in those places.

Mar 15, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Restaurants You Love - And Nobody Talks About

Ahem... In my defense I have meant to, but never quite got around to it. This thread prompted me to finally speak up. Maybe it should be one we kick off every month. ;-)

(Also, the place is doing pretty great regular business, so I didn't see imminent failure as a danger.)

Mar 15, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Restaurants You Love - And Nobody Talks About

Mr. Barbecue. Columbia Heights. On Central Avenue. Next door to a freaking McDonald's.

It's fairly new, opening last fall, but from the street it looks like a run down chain. But it's a real family-owned BBQ place, with its own smoker. All the sauces and sides are made from scratch with original recipes. Their barbecue is good to great. They do mostly pork, but also beef ribs and whole chickens. Their other specialty is chicken wings.

I love everything I've ever tried there. I almost feel guilty mentioning it because the outer image is truly awful. But like most BBQ places, the proof is in the eating.

Mar 14, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul


Mine would be Sea Salt. This summer for sure!

Mar 14, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Mn beer and wine

I don't know why we need to ignore Minnesota wine. It's like a number of regions without much of a vinicultural tradition. It's young. Most of it is cloyingly sweet and pretty much non-drinkable. But there are exceptions.

Just assume anything done in a place with a serious wine industry is probably better than the equivalent done here. Skip the Chardonnays, the Rieslings, the Zinfandels, etc. Look for different grapes that don't have much of a mass market appeal. That's where the Minnesota winemakers are experimenting and trying to find something unique and different.

Vignoles and Seyval among the whites can be interesting. Marechal Foch and Frontenac among the reds. You'll find them all from Saint Croix vineyards.

Alexis Baily is still doing Seyval (they add Blanc to the name, but it's the same thing) and Frontenac. They used to make a decent Marechal Foch, but seem to have stopped to focus on making red and white blended table wines and experimenting with ice wine. I haven't tried any of those, but they're probably worth a try.

Mar 14, 2010
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

What are your favorite apple varieties, for pie and for straight eating?

Another vote for the same here.

The only apple tree planted in my own yard is Honeycrisp, because I don't know of any better raw eating apple.

But when I can't get them, Pink Lady (a.k.a. Cripps Pink) is my favorite.

Dec 22, 2009
dougrw in Home Cooking

Hell's Kitchen or Red Stag for Brunch on Sunday (MSP)

Another option for Sunday brunch is the Nicollet Island Inn. It's right on the river. Very scenic. And they have a very nice prix fixe 5 course brunch. Kind of on the fine dining side of things, but it's a lot more casual for brunch. It's another option for you anyway.

Nicollet Island Inn
95 Merriam, Minneapolis, MN 55401

MSP - NorthEast Neighborhood good eats

I have to reiterate the praise for the Modern Café. I don't think it gets nearly as much attention as it deserves, perhaps because their setting is so casual and they're not in a trendier area. It's first rate food with a creative kitchen following the local/seasonal trend. The presentations are more comfort food than fine dining, but the quality is first rate.

I'm surprised no one else has mentioned the Sample Room yet. A great blending of well executed old style comfort food with all sorts of modern eclectic dishes. Also a great place to try and share a lot of different dishes with friends.

And let's not forget the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, for pretty good Bavarian food and a worth-seeing festive dining room atmosphere on Friday and Saturday evenings.

This may be cheating, but a wee bit further north than Nordeast, there is always Kings Korean in Fridley, which is the Twin Cities best Korean food hands down.

Modern Cafe
337 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit
2300 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Kings Restaurant
1051 Moore Lake Dr E, Minneapolis, MN 55432

Sample Room
2124 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Jul 28, 2009
dougrw in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Restaurants in Ottumwa, Iowa?

Gosh I wish I could give you a good recommendation. My grandparents lived in Ottumwa their whole lives and it used to be so much better. But so much has closed in recent years. I'm actually related to the owners of the downtown hotel you refer to, and I wouldn't eat there unless I had to.

I'm not aware of a single restaurant left that meets the specs you're looking for. The last was the Greenbriar, and that closed years ago. I was just in town last week and I had my eye open. Saw nothing like what you want.

Of course the Canteen is always great eats. But it's also still teeny-tiny and serves pretty much just the greasy (but delicious) loose meat burgers. Not quite what you're looking for.

You might try calling the Ottumwa Country Club. They have a larger-than-needed restaurant and associated banquet rooms. The food wasn't terrible when I ate their a couple of years back. And I'll bet they could really use the business. That's the only one in town I can think of close to what you're looking for.

10 Good Cheap Liquors

Set the single barrel version aside, even regular Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon at about $13 per bottle beats Wild Turkey at $20 hands down. Old Forester at around the same price as Wild Turkey is also better.

Jul 07, 2009
dougrw in Features

MSP - Best tastes of 2008

I don't get out as much as you Anne. Let me add my less impressive mini-list as an addendum to your own.

- La Belle Vie - My birthday dinner in June (the BIG tasting menu with the TOP paired wine flight) was the single best dining experience I've ever experienced anywhere. The food... the service... the wine... I decided afterward that I no longer miss Goodfellows. Much.

- Kings Korean - This was the year I truly discovered Korean bbq. Where have you been all my life?! Insanely tasty, and Kings makes it family friendly to boot.

- My Burger - It is not fair to my waistline to have takeout burgers this tasty in such a convenient location in the Minneapolis skyway. I've been sampling FAR too often and I just can't stop.

- The Modern Cafe - Why have I avoided this NE Mpls place in favor of others for so long? This is comfort / diner food taken to an amazing new level. It's always approachable, and yet I always discover something new. And the diner setting is SO familiar, I ease right in.

MSP: Downtown MPLS, After Work - Advice Needed

I need some advice for a quickly upcoming dinner with a friend in downtown Minneapolis after work (we're meeting at 5:15pm on Thursday evening).

After looking around I suddenly realize that outside of some fine dining gems, I'm very ignorant of good dinner options downtown. My friend is new to Minneapolis and I'd like to go somewhere non-chain. But this friend is also more of a Perkins than a La Belle Vie kind of eater, so I don't want to induce food culture shock.

I was trying to find somewhere like the Modern Cafe or the late Bobino, only downtown and in easy walking distance of Nicollet mall. Also the whole point of getting together is having a chance to chat, so really loud or crowded places are not a good idea (so I suspect Solera is out).

We're meeting on Nicollet very near Zelo. But Zelo is a wee pricier and fancier than I'm looking for. Is it too much to hope for a spot with good food, a decent wine list, but not fine dining and not packed to the gills at 5:30 in downtown MPLS?

New Afghan joint in Des Moines

<i>they will serve traditional Afgan foods, lamb, shrimp...</i>

Screech.... back up. SHRIMP is a traditional Afghan food? Umm... is my world map wrong? Isn't that a landlocked country?

Cosmos restaurant in Minneapolis? Anyone been? Is it the nest in the area?

Cosmos is good, but I found it not as adventurous in terms of haute cuisine as similar restaurants, and it was ridiculously pricey. Just absurd.

Others have mentioned La Belle Vie and Vincent; fine choices. But D'Amico Cucina has John Occhiato as their chef, and in my opinion he's the best they've had since Tim McKee. Nicollet Island Inn is rather nice lately too.

For Steakhouses I can only echo crazycook. Murray's is the better restaurant for an overall dining experience. Manny's can't be beat for quality though.