It’s only the middle of December, but we’re off to Los Angeles in a few days and done with eating out in Minnesota in 2022 (with one caveat—see below), and so here is my list of favourite dishes eaten in Twin Cities metro restaurants in the last quarter of 2022. Unlike in the summer, I went nowhere in the fall and nor did we do go anywhere more than once, and so there are a lot of different places to report on. As always, the meals run the gamut from the casual to the high end, with most in the casual end of the spectrum. There are quite a few restaurants in the list that we visited for the first time as well as some of our very favourite restaurants. Not all our outings were great, but I am happy to say that only one was a true disappointment. This was more than made up for by the places we ate at for the first time that were very much not disappointments. As I have been doing throughout the pandemic, I am listing here at least one dish from every restaurant we ate at—even the one that was a disappointment. You can see my fuller reviews of each by clicking on the links in the list. Keep in mind that a couple of the places in the list are there for meals I haven’t reviewed formally yet—those reviews will be coming in the weeks ahead.
Let’s take them in chronological order.
- On’s Kitchen. Long-time readers of the blog know that On’s Kitchen has been not just one of our favourite Thai restaurants but one of our very favourite restaurants in the Twin Cities in the last decade and almost a half. On’s retirement from the kitchen had led to a bit of a dip in quality but I am happy to say that our last meal suggests they are back on form. Favourites at this meal included the khao soil, the pad sathor, and the kaeng krua.
- Demi. We went back to Demi in October for our first meal there since early 2020. We’d liked that first meal and liked this one even more, even if we found it a bit exhausting by the end. Lots of very tasty dishes though, including a squash broth, a dish pairing daurade and lobster tail, and the roasted pheasant breast.
- Bolé. We’ve been intending to eat at Bolé for a long time now. We enjoyed the meal a lot and they rocketed right to the top of our Twin Cities Ethiopian rankings—though we do need to go back to Demera in 2023. Highlights included pretty much everything but especially the kategna, the kitfo, and the miser.
- Hyacinth. We went back to Hyacinth for the third time, though only the first time since 2019. This was one of the fancy meals we took our boys too—Italian food is an easy sell for them. It was a nice meal and we particularly enjoyed the chicken liver crostini, the bucatini cacio e pepe, and the mezze maniche.
- Grand Szechuan. We had a great blowout meal at our old favourite in October with some friends. This meal will be part of my 2022 Grand Szechan meal roundup—coming either this Tuesday or the next. It was a meal composed of many of our absolute favourite dishes there. These included the mapo tofu, the diced fish with chopped dry pepper, and the almighty triple flavour squid/spicy squid roll. While you wait for the annual roundup you can take another look at my guide to ordering at Grand Szechuan.
- The food court at Hmong Village. I ate here in mid-November with a few friends. Everything we got from various vendors was very good but I’ll give a special shout out to the crispy pork from Lucky Food Express, the crazy steak from Santi’s, and the bitter greens with crispy pork from Lucki’s Kitchen.
- Las Cuatro Milpas. This was, alas, the big disappointment of the quarter. A couple of things were bad and most were just blah. The best of the lot were probably the two birrias we tried, one with beef and one with lamb.
- Kumar’s. In the before times Kumar’s in Apple Valley had a pretty good thali on offer for lunch on weekdays. I stopped in after some shopping hoping to eat it but found they now have a buffet. This buffet had some North Indian all-stars on it but I focused mostly on the South Indian stuff and mostly enjoyed it. I particularly liked the curd rice, the chicken kolambu and the add-on mini-dosa.
- The food court at Hmongtown Marketplace. A couple of weeks after my Hmong Village outing, the whole family went out to lunch at the food court at Hmongtown Marketplace and had a very tasty time. The highlights included the papaya salad from Coco’s Island, the bitter greens with pork from 99 Khw Wameng, and the Hmong sausage with rice from Naw-Maw Kitchen.
- El Triunfo. Somehow, we didn’t eat at/from El Triunfo—our favourite restaurant in our own town of Northfield—as much in 2022 as we usually do. I’ll have a small round-up of some recent meals soon as well but I can report that their tinga and their quesadillas are still very good and that their green salsa is still the business. In the meantime, here is my report on El Triunfo from the beginning of the year.
- NY Gyro. I have not reported on NY Gyro yet either. I stopped in for lunch by myself a couple of weeks ago and loved the two things I ate: a goat karahi and the naans that I got with it. We’re scheduled to go back together as a family after the World Cup final gets done today. That is, if the roads are fine. If we make it, I’ll try to have a fuller report before the end of the year.
- Spoon and Stable. We ate at Spoon and Stable again this year. Lots of very tasty things, the highlights of which were probably the spaghetti nero, the sourdough bigoli, and the black cod.
Click on an image below to launch a slideshow with larger pictures of the dishes listed above. Scroll down to see what other restaurant-related reports I’ll have on the blog before the end of the year.
I’ll have a couple more Twin Cities reports before the month/year is done. Probably the big Grand Szechuan roundup this Tuesday and either NY Gyro or El Triunfo the week after that. Next weekend I’ll probably also post my updating rankings of Twin Cities Indian/South Asian restaurants (here’s the 2021 version). And I might even squeeze an L.A report in there (yes, yes, I know I still haven’t posted any of my Ireland reports from July).