Eating at Hmongtown Marketplace, November 2022 (St. Paul, MN)


In mid-November I posted looks at the greenmarket and the food court at Hmong Village in St. Paul. That outing was with a few friends, sans the family. Here now is an account of a visit with the family to the OG Hmong market and food court, Hmongtown Marketplace. I’ve reported on visits there before, in 2014 and 2018. I didn’t mean to go four years between reports—it just sort of happened. Well, we enjoyed our meal enough that it’s more than likely that we’ll be back in far less than four years. I’m pleased to report that while many things have changed at Hmong Village, it has nonetheless remained more or less the same; and it remain an essential Twin Cities institution—one that anyone interested in broadening their sense of what it means to be Minnesotan, or just anyone interested in Hmong food, should be familiar with. Continue reading

The Weekday Lunch Buffet at Kumar’s (Apple Valley, MN)


Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll be posting the 2022 edition of my Twin Cities South Asian/Indian restaurant rankings. Those who’ve read the original list and my 2021 follow-up will recall that I placed Kumar’s in the second tier in both. In the interim their profile seems to have gone up a bit. I believe they were named the best Indian restaurant in the region in some poll or the other—and I’ve been seeing their name pop more and more on food groups on Facebook. Not having visited or gotten takeout from them yet this year, it seemed appropriate to check them out once more before updating my 2022 list. I’d hoped to get the usual crew together for a weeknight dinner but when I found myself in the area in search of a meal at lunch time last week, I decided to stop in by myself. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Double Dragon Foods (St. Paul, MN)


My recipe post this week was two days late. To make up for the heartbreak this undoubtedly caused you, here is a bonus post, a look at another of the large Asian groceries in the Twin Cities metro: Double Dragon Foods in St. Paul. It was brought to my attention by frequent commenter, steveinmn, in the comments on my look at Ha Tien Supermarket back in September. The name didn’t register then when he mentioned it but as we approached it this past week, I realized I’d passed it a couple of times on the way to Krungthep Thai, which is located just a hop, step and jump from the intersection of Rice and Maryland where Double Dragon occupies all of one large strip mall in the northeastern quadrant. It’s not the largest of the Asian groceries in St. Paul but it’s quite comprehensive and does have some things to recommend it over the larger outfits (such as Ha Tien and Dragon Star). Continue reading

Las Cuatro Milpas (Bloomington, MN)


Las Cuatro Milpas on Lake St. in Minneapolis (diagonally across from Mercado Central) is a Twin Cities fixture. Their claim to fame is to have made birria and birria tacos popular in the metro. I cannot tell you if they were indeed pioneers in those areas but that’s the story. I’ve been meaning to eat there for many years now and was reminded of them when walking outside Mercado Central a couple of months ago. I then learned that they’ve recently opened a well-received branch in Bloomington, which lops 10-15 minutes off our drive in both directions relative to the Lake St. location. And so when our lunch plans for this past weekend moved in the direction of Mexican food they were the first place I thought of. I came in with high expectations and I am sorry to say that what we encountered was a rather ordinary meal, perhaps the most underwhelming Mexican meal we’ve had in the Cities for a while. Herewith, the details. Continue reading

Eating at Hmong Village, November 2022 (St. Paul, MN)


On Sunday I posted a look at the green market in Hmong Village, one of the two major Hmong markets/food court complexes in St. Paul—Hmongtown Marketplace being the other. I was there—sans the family—with some friends and, as much as I like the green market there, lunch is the primary reason we were there. My friends had not been there before and so it was also an opportunity to introduce them to the pleasures of the food court. We got there around 1 pm on Saturday, and after some adventures in the parking lot we entered the building and made our way through the maze of the shops and stalls to find the food court buzzing. Continue reading

Shopping at Hmong Village, November 2022 (St. Paul, MN)


This weekend’s eating plans were up in the air. I’d thought we’d probably go out for either Mexican or Filipino food but it didn’t work out that way. The missus and the boys had other engagements on Saturday and so I went out by myself with a few friends for Hmong food. We’d originally considered Hmongtown Marketplace (which I last reported on in 2018). But we ended up at Hmong Village, the larger and shinier of the two major Hmong market/food court complexes in St. Paul. I hadn’t been there in a while and was looking forward to seeing how/if it had changed in the interim. It ended up being a very fun and tasty outing. Continue reading

Hyacinth III (St. Paul, MN)


I ate at Hyacinth twice in 2019. The first time with the missus and some friends; the second time with colleagues. I enjoyed both meals even as I felt that its charms were really those of a neighbourhood restaurant. Nonetheless, if the pandemic had not intervened we would probably have gone back at least once in the last couple of years. And this past weekend we finally did, taking our boys out with us once again to an adult dinner experience. Italian food is the easiest option with them (see oiur previous outings to Terzo, Luci Ancora, Bar La Grassa, 112 Eatery and Mucci’s) and Hyacinth’s current menu seemed like it would suit them just fine. I’m glad to report that this did indeed prove to be the case: they enjoyed their dinner a lot. Their parents liked it too but thought it was a little uneven and we were really not convinced by the meal’s value proposition. Continue reading

Bolé (St. Paul, MN)


At the end of last week’s review (of things eaten in Minneapolis’ excellent Mercado Central) I’d said that our eating out this weekend would probably involve Southeast Asian food in St. Paul. Well, it didn’t involve Southeast Asian food but we did eat in St. Paul. Instead it involved Ethiopian food. It had been a while since our last Ethiopian outing—a takeout meal picked up from Fasika in early 2021—and when I put the choice of cuisine to the missus and the friends we were going to be eating with, an Ethiopian outing was an easy pick. And as we’d been meaning to eat at Bolé for a while that was an easy pick as well. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Eating At Mercado Central (Minneapolis)


Something that a lot of people in other parts of the US don’t know about Minnesota is that we have a large Hispanic population here—and following that, a pretty good Hispanic food scene. Mexican food dominates this scene, predictably, but there’s also good food to be had from elsewhere in Latin America. Hell, I’m not sure that a lot of people who live in Minnesota are as aware of this as they should be. Sadly, the local professional food press barely highlights any of this, just as they barely highlight any restaurants serving the food of recent immigrant communities. Their attention seems to be almost entirely taken up by p.r-driven restaurants of the kind that get nominated for James Beard awards. Now, I like eating at some of those restaurants too but they’re only a small part of the larger food scene in the Twin Cities metro. Those who have anxieties about the Twin Cities not being seen as cosmopolitan enough by coastal observers might consider that cosmopolitanism is not experienced only at the high end. Continue reading

Demi II (Minneapolis)


We first ate at Demi in early 2020, not so-very long after they opened (in 2019, as the sign outside their door proclaims). There were dishes at that dinner that we liked very much indeed. But, on the whole, we thought there were a few too many courses that looked better than they tasted. The highs were very high but the mean was quite a bit lower. Still, we liked the meal enough that I said that we’d probably come back in the summer of 2021 and perhaps make a dinner at Demi an annual indulgence. Well, courtesy the pandemic, it took another year for us to finally make our return. We ate there midweek, last week to celebrate a big number birthday for the missus. I am happy to say that we liked this meal more than the first (which is not to say that, as a renowned miserable bastard, I won’t be noting some reservations about it as well). Continue reading

On’s Kitchen VIII (St. Paul, MN)


If Grand Szechuan is our family’s favourite restaurant in the Twin Cities, On’s Kitchen is a close second. We’ve been eating here since it opened and it has very rarely let us down. One of those occasions was our last dine-in meal there in late 2019. Later I learned that On had retired from the kitchen earlier that year—significant news that you might think the local food media would have shared loudly while honouring her. We nonetheless ordered takeout from On’s on multiple occasions during the height of the pandemic and it seemed to us that the quality had once again gone back up. This past weekend we finally ate there in person for the first time since that 2019 meal. And I am very happy to say that it was a rather excellent meal. I don’t know who is running the kitchen now but they’re putting out very good food. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: July 1-September 30, 2022


I travelled a fair bit this summer—to Los Angeles and Hawaii with the family and then to Ireland with a colleague for work. But we still managed to eat out at our usual clip in the Twin Cities. Our restaurant outings covered the gamut from casual to fine dining, from new(er) to more established, from affordable to more expensive. At the more expensive end of the spectrum were two meals each at Alma and Tenant; all the way over at the affordable end was a meal put together from the counters at Mercado Central. We didn’t enjoy every meal we ate out equally—and one or two not very much—but since the pandemic began my practice with this series of quarterly roundups has been to only emphasize the positives at each meal. For my fuller critiques you can read the more detailed individual reviews that are linked from the list below. Continue reading

Restaurant Alma, Fall 2022 (Minneapolis)


We somehow managed to go four and a half years between  dinner at Alma in the fall of 2017 and our dinner there this past April; but now we’ve already eaten three dinners there this year and I think that makes us even. Yes, we went back this weekend for a second dinner in two months. And no, it wasn’t to eat once again the menu we’d liked so much in August. Social media is to blame. The restaurant posted a lovely picture on Instagram of locally foraged mushrooms that they said were on the current menu and I went to look at what else was on there and a few minutes later we had a reservation. What can I say? I am very impressionable. Anyway, I am very glad we did make the reservation because this was one of our best dinners there (I know I say this after every meal at Alma) and one of the best dinners we’ve eaten anywhere recently. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Ha Tien Super Market (St. Paul)

 
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a look at a market in the Twin Cities metro—I think the last one was this look at the El Burrito Mercado market in St. Paul. Today I have a look at another St. Paul market and another that’s Mexican restaurant-adjacent. Well, the Ha Tien Supermarket on Suburban Ave. is not physically connected to the flagship Los Ocampo restaurant and nor is it right next to it, but it is close by. And so since we needed to re-up on some crucial groceries available only at Asian market, after our lunch at Los Ocampo a couple of weeks ago, we drove half a mile or so on Suburban to Ha Tien. Continue reading

Terzo (Minneapolis)


Those of you who are misguided enough to follow this blog closely know that this year the missus and I began taking the boys out to an adult dinner with us once a month or so. Our ports of call so far have included Luci Ancora, Bar La Grassa, Myriel, 112 Eatery and Mucci’s. Those who also know these restaurants can also tell that with the exception of Myriel they have in common either a full-on Italian focus or—in the case of 112 Eatery—a menu that features a number of pastas and grilled meats. These, you see, are the best bets for dining out with our boys—they’re probably more adventurous as eaters than most of their peers but we’re not paying for them to spurn 75% of what’s on their plates at places like Alma or Tenant or Spoon & Stable. But Italian food is easy. Accordingly, we’re in the process of doing a slow-motion tour of the more popular/better-regarded Italian places in the Twin Cities. This month saw us make a stop at Terzo, the most formal of the outposts of the Broders mini-empire at the intersection of 50th St. and Penn Ave. in South Minneapolis. Herewith, the details. Continue reading

Los Ocampo Restaurant and Bar, Suburban Ave. (St. Paul, MN)


As I’ve said before, when we first arrived in Minnesota 15 years ago, Los Ocampo’s outposts—first at their counter in the Midtown Global Market and then at Taqueria Los Ocampo across the street on Lake St.—were among our Mexican mainstays. We also ate occasionally at the Taqueria Los Ocampo location on Arcade St. in St. Paul. All of these locations are casual, counter-service places. Somehow, however, we never ended up visiting their more formal restaurant and bar which opened on Suburban Ave. in St. Paul in 2011 (they’ve since opened another sit-down restaurant on University Ave. in St. Paul). That finally changed this past weekend when we descended on the Suburban Ave. location with a couple of friends we dine out with often. Here is what we found. Continue reading

Dosa (Bloomington, MN)


Dosa opened on Lyndale Avenue in Bloomington about five months ago and is one of the latest manifestations of the ongoing phenomenon of South Indian restaurant openings in the Twin Cities metro. I have not yet been able to confirm or quantify this with numbers from the latest census, but my observations indicate that the Indian population of the area continues to grow and that this growing population is not just largely South Indian but likely dominated by people from Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. Unlike many of the other relatively recently opened South Indian restaurants, however, Dosa is not—as far as I know—part of a franchise. At least, their website makes no note of any affiliation. So in this they are closer to Kabob’s Indian Grill (also in Bloomington) than to Kumar’s in Apple Valley or Godavari in Eden Prairie. We had a very nice meal there this past weekend with good friends and I am happy to be able to recommend them to anyone looking for good Indian food in the area. Continue reading

Tenant VIII (Minneapolis)


This is my second review this month of a meal at Tenant but it’s not my second review of a meal eaten at Tenant this month. Try saying that three times fast. No, my previous review was of an outing to Tenant in early July. This meal, on the other hand, is of a meal eaten this past Saturday and represents my attempt to become current with at least my Minnesota meal reviews. It took some doing to get to this meal. We were originally supposed to eat there on the Friday of the prior week. But it transpired that the menu had not yet turned over since our dinner in July and so they very kindly got us in a week later. And then the ongoing reconstruction of Bryant Ave. led to an issue with water mains and they had to close at short notice on Friday. Thankfully, they managed to squeeze us in the very next day and so here I am with a report on possibly the best meal we’ve had at Tenant in a year. Herewith the details. Continue reading