The Midtown Global Market was the first place I ever ate at in Minnesota. This was a little less than a year before we moved to Minnesota, and just a few months after it opened in May, 2006. I was visiting St. Paul on work and my friend Mike and I drove over to check it out. I got some wonderful octopus tacos from La Sirena Gorda and Mike got tacos from Los Ocampo’s counter, if I remember correctly. It was a vibrant, fun space and it made an impression on me that was quite different from the image of Minnesota I’d put together from my years in the western US. (This impression was bolstered later that weekend at a meal at Saigon in St. Paul.) A few months later we had to decide whether to remain in Colorado or make a jump to Minnesota, and this impression of a culturally diverse Minnesota helped make up our minds—it also probably didn’t hurt that it was very warm in the Twin Cities during my visit in early November, 2006.
Well, November isn’t always warm here, and La Sirena Gorda, alas, is long gone—as are some of our other early favourites there—but the Midtown Market is still going strong, with new food outlets and merchants who are excellent in their own right; indeed, it seems very entrenched now in the local scene. Here is a quick look at it for the benefit of those who have somehow never been, or have not been in a while.
Most of these pictures were taken on a recent weekend in November. I have mixed in with them pictures I took of a meal I ate at Hot Indian Foods’ counter in the winter of 2017. I’d originally planned to eat there a few more times and post a fuller review but could never muster the enthusiasm to actually do it, given the existence of other counters whose food I like far, far more. Which reminds me: this is not, of course, my first post having to do with the Midtown Market; nor is it even my second. For the first, see my review of lunch at the very good Moroccan Flavors; and for the second, see my account of dinner and lunch at The Rabbit Hole (which I did not think was very good). In the interim, The Rabbit Hole has closed and that space has been refashioned as Ziadi’s, the full restaurant version of Moroccan Flavors (which still exists as a separate counter).
If you have not been, you should know that while there are a large number of food counters at the Midtown Market, there are reasons to go there beyond eating. There are a number of stores, for example. We stop in most often to buy goat, lamb shanks and oxtails from the satellite location of Holy Land that is located there; and when we do we usually get vegetables and fruit from the large produce market and some local cheese from Grassroots Gourmet. Alas, the fishmonger we used to shop at is also long gone; I also mourn the departure of Bymore Meats, where we used to buy longaniza. But there are plenty of other reasons to go—which also include the music and other entertainments in the central part of the market.
Take a look and scroll down to see what’s coming next.
If I’ve missed any of your favourite haunts or if you there’s a place you particularly want to recommend to me or to other readers, please write in below.
Next from the Twin Cities: Korean food in St. Paul. But before that I’ll doubtless have more reports from Hong Kong (I’m here another four days before heading to Bombay).