Here is my second quarterly report of some of the best dishes we’ve eaten in 2021. The first report, which covered meals from January 1 to March 31, is here. This one covers meals between April 1 and June 30. As with those represented on the January list, these were almost all takeout meals (with one meal eaten at outdoor seating). With our first dine-in meal scheduled in less than two weeks it seems likely that the next version of this list will not be quite as takeout-heavy. As with the first list I am including here every restaurant we got food from in this period. Depending on the restaurant 1-3 dishes are featured in the slideshow. The list features some of our old favourites—Grand Szechuan, On’s Kitchen and Homi; it also includes some places we went to for the first time but which will likely join our regular rotation going forward—El Cubano, Firebox, Basil’s Cafe. Some of the others we’re less likely to go back to but there were things we liked at pretty much every meal and so they are all represented here.
To see the full reviews with everything we ate, click on the links below.
- Coco’s Place (Northfield): We liked almost everything we got from this new Northfield Mexican restaurant; two specials were my favourites: the tacos de suaderos and the enchiladas con mole.
- El Cubano (West St. Paul): We loved this West St. Paul gem for its lovely outdoor seating and solid comfort food. The black beans and rice and the fried plantains are excellent and the roast pork was another favourite.
- Rack Shack (Eagan): I can’t say we’re likely to go back here anytime soon but if you visit I recommend the ribs.
- Grand Szechuan (Bloomington): Excellent as always; at this meal the pork belly with garlic, the West Lake soup with ground beef and the fish fillet with bean jelly particularly stood out.
- Black Market StP (St. Paul): Perhaps it was on account of the hype but Black Market underwhelmed just a little. That said the smoked beans were excellent and the pork ribs and pulled pork were very tasty too.
- Asian Mart–Deli (Burnsville): This is a very small operation from the rear of a Filipino grocery store. We enjoyed the skewered and grilled guts, the fried pompano and the suman moron (steamed glutinous rice with chocolate).
- Peninsula (Minneapolis): Our first takeout from Peninsula since the pandemic began. Not everything impressed but the roti canai was great as always and we also quite enjoyed the kacang pendek (green beans in shrimp paste)
- Firebox Barbecue (St. Paul): Another first-time visit, this was our favourite of our recent Twin Cities barbecue explorations. The ribs and brisket were particularly good but the sticky rice and the Hmong pepper paste put everything over the top.
- Basil Cafe (St. Paul): A new(er) Thai place on St. Paul’s University Avenue (the Twin Cities’ true “Eat Street). We liked most things we got here but I’ll give a shout-out to the papaya salad, the boat noodles and the mango sticky rice.
- Aroma Indian Cuisine (Bloomington): And this is a new(er) Indian restaurant in Bloomington. Much to like here too but I’ll single out the Kerala-style chicken roast, the Andhra-style mamsam vepudu (goat fry) and the Malabar fish curry.
- On’s Kitchen (St. Paul): On’s has been a bit up and down since On herself retired but this was a pretty good outing. The bamboo salad, the pad eggplant and the pad sathor were our top picks at this meal.
- Homi (St. Paul): And yet another old favourite kicked off the quarter. The chuletas en adobo, the mole con pollo and the birria were the stars.
And here is the slideshow of the top dishes—the captions will tell you where they’re from and what they are.