healthy-habits asked: Also, I currently live in WI and am moving to Minneapolis soon. What are your favorite places to eat? I'm up for anything, especially "hole in the wall," vegetarian and/or ethnic places! Thank you!
Hi there, welcome to the Twin Cities! There is no shortage of good food in lots of different niches. Here are some of my faves (in no particular order):
- Dong Yang in Columbia Heights/NE Minneapolis. In my humble opinion, this is the best Korean food in the Twin Cities, cooked in generous home style by three ajummas (older, auntie-type ladies). It is no frills, reasonably priced, and feels kind of random being in the back of a grocery store. This is probably the place I eat out at most in the TC because I am obsessed with Korean food. (Confession: I was kind of sad when City Pages named it the Best Korean of 2010 cause I liked how it felt like my secret gem).
- Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant in downtown St. Paul. It’s super cute, family-owned, reasonably priced, and Kurdish.
- Evergreen Chinese on Eat Street/Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis is another favorite. My brother liked it so much, we went twice during his visit (little post here). Their offering of vegetarian dishes/fake meat is pretty good. Warning: food coma highly likely.
- Want Chinese food that’s not quite so divey but very spicy and delicious? Check out Little Szechuan in St. Paul. I also recently tried and liked Grand Szechuan in Bloomington, where the chef was formerly at Little Szechuan (at least that’s what the ad in City Pages said).
- Fasika Ethiopian in St. Paul. The Twin Cities being home to many East African immigrants, there are lots of options. But Fasika is my favorite and where I took my vegetarian brother when he came to town. I’m always amazed at how un-busy it is here whenever I’ve gone.
- Town Talk Diner is another place that I often take visitors. Inventive craft cocktails (though if that’s more your thing, there’s the Bradstreet Craftshouse in the Graves Hotel) and “adult malts.” American diner food for the foodie set (e.g., frickles and cheese curds w/ bacon ketchup).
- Tanpopo Noodle Shop in Lowertown, St. Paul is also probably one of my top five most frequented restaurants in the TC. Agedashi tofu makes me go to mush. Nabeyaki udon soothes the soul. Be sure to check out the times cause it has somewhat odd hours, and they also recently stopped serving lunch.
- Peninsula Malaysian on Eat Street/Nicollett. Another favorite and a frequent place my friends have birthday dinners. Roti canai appetizer and anything with their house-made tofu (silken style in the Queens Tofu dish, ughhhhh) make me drool just thinking about it.
- Sea Salt Eatery. Summertime in the Cities is never complete without a bike ride down to Minnehaha Falls and a well-earned stop at Sea Salt. Fish tacos in Minnesota! Insanely huge po’ boy sandwiches. An impressive selection of refreshments and local brews and beverages (e.g., Crispin Cider, Summit on Tap) and an even more impressive stock of hot sauces (seriously, it’s ridiculous). The lines get long during the weekend and even during the regular meal time hours during the week. Really great for family-watching.
- Hmongtown Market’s Food Court. Just like any food court, the setting is no-frills and the food is CHEAP (I got a whole fried fish for $6!). But unlike the Mall of America, you can feast on authentic Hmong and Southeast Asian food. Check out the fresh papaya salad prepared in front of you and customizable to your preferred tastes ($5 for a huge serving!). Other highlights: various sausages and balls of meat, white fish steamed in banana leaves. Here’s a video to give you a brief tour (originally from Minnesota Monthly, found on the Marketplace’s About page):
I’m always discovering more new places and new favorites (send me your suggestions!), so consider this list a living document and in no way exhaustive. You asked this question a while back, so hopefully you can still find it helpful! Hope to read more about your favorite places as you get settled in your new home!
Readers, this $2 pupusa is just one of many reasons why you must give St. Paul a chance. Manana Restaurant y Pupuseria, located on E. 7th Street past Mounds Blvd, serves food native to El Salvador and other South American culture. Slightly crispy on the outside from the griddle, filled with oozing cheese and your choice of meat or beans, pupusas make for a very hearty snack. In pairs, threes, or with a tamale or taco (also under $2!), you have yourself a super cheap, knockout meal - as in, holy crap I need a nap. Be sure to eat your pupusas and tamales with the complimentary Salvadorean slaw and hot sauce, which help to lighten each bite. Then don’t forget to wash it down with some sweet horchata!
There isn’t much space for hanging out and digesting afterwards, so check out the thrift store across the street. Or the place that sells hair extensions next door (they’re made out of real hair!).
Special thanks to Erica for introducing me to this awesome hole-in-the-wall and ethnic food gem! One more reason to consider St. Paul.