Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: October 1-December 31 2022

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. 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

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: April 1-June 30, 2022

Here is the second quarterly round-up of the year of my favourite things eaten in the Twin Cities. While recent  roundups have been centered mostly or only on takeout and outdoor meals, this one covers the period in which we started eating in freely at Twin Cities restaurants. It includes meals at some new(er) restaurants, some “new to us” restaurants, and some meals at old favourites. Most of these meals have been written up in more detail on the blog and in almost every case you can click on the restaurant’s name to go to the fuller review. A few of them, however, are from meals that haven’t yet made it from the backlog to the blog. You can consider these to be appetizers for the main review to come. As has been my practice throughout the pandemic, every restaurant we’ve eaten at in this period gets a look-in here. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Jan 1-March 31, 2022

Well, it isn’t March 31 yet, but I’m not going to be eating out in the Twin Cities metro between now and then and so I may as well put this list up now. I got back from Delhi on Friday: 24 hours of travel, counting airport time, 16.5 hours of that one flight from Delhi to Chicago; all of it with a mask on. It was not fun. But it’s good to be back home (and it was very good to be at my other home as well). I ate out a fair bit in Delhi and will be posting all of those reports in the next few weeks (the first one already went up last week and the next will go up this Tuesday). In April I’ll get back to the usual weekly reports from the Twin Cities. Until then here are my favourite restaurant dishes eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the first quarter of 2022. As always, every restaurant I ate at is represented. I didn’t like every one of those meals equally—and there was one I did not care for much at all (saying so made me lots of new friends online)—but there were things I liked at every meal and so everyone gets a look in. That’s the kind of guy I am: generous of spirit. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Oct 1-Dec 31, 2021

December is not yet over but as I will be in Los Angeles till the end of the month dinner at Sooki & Mimi was my last meal in Minnesota for 2021. Which means I can give you the usual quarterly round-up of meals eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the last three months before those months are completely up.

When 2021 started I think we all hoped/expected that by the middle of the year we’d be back to something approaching normal life, which in the world of dining out would have meant going back to dining in person at restaurants as the norm. Of course, most restaurants in the Twin Cities went back to this even in the face of the rise of the delta variant in the late summer and many, many diners did too. We did not until early December, waiting till our younger boy had also received his shots. And so this list is also dominated by meals eaten as takeout and outdoors at restaurants. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we didn’t eat a lot of good stuff, because we did. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: July 1-Sep 30, 2021

A week later than usual, here is my round-up of some of our favourite dishes eaten at/from Twin Cities restaurants in the last quarter of the year (see here for the April 1-June 30 round-up and here for the Jan 1-Mar 31 round-up). At the start of July we expected we’d be back to in-person dining on a regular basis very soon. Indeed, two of the July meals here (at Tenant and Estelle) saw the missus and I dining indoors. But then the Delta numbers began to look worrying and given our not-fully vaccinated family we decided to return to a more cautious posture—which we continue to exhibit now. But that’s not to say that all the rest of our restaurant meals were takeout. There are a number of those, yes, but of late we’ve been eating more and more at places that have dedicated outdoor seating. Winter is coming but it has been a quite warm fall so far. Hopefully the younger boy will get his shots soon and hopefully the Delta numbers will go down soon as well. If that happens you can expect the next edition to feature more in-person dining. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Apr 1-Jun 30, 2021

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. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Jan 1-March 31, 2021

In the Before Times I used to post a quarterly round-up of the top 5 dishes we’d eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the previous three months. I don’t think I posted any of those last year—it’s hard to remember through the pandemic fog. But here is a new edition that covers the first quarter of 2021. Through the pandemic I have damped down my normal critical impulses and have focused on the positives of all the meals we’ve eaten. This hasn’t actually required any fudging of the facts—all the meals we’ve eaten over the last year and change have been very tasty and very much appreciated. And so to continue to show our appreciation for these meals, this edition of the list is not simply restricted to the top 5 dishes but includes my two favourite dishes from each of our pandemic takeout runs so far this year. Continue reading

The Twin Cities Food Scene (as Seen Through Where the Star Tribune’s Food Critics Have Been Eating)

We resubscribed to the Star-Tribune this year—we’ve had an on again/off again relationship with the newspaper over the years but decided to re-up for the pandemic coverage. As we have a digital subscription we receive emails daily with highlights from the paper and one of the features that’s been getting pushed regularly is a series called “5 best things our food critic ate in Twin Cities this week”. I think this was a new feature that debuted in February—at least I don’t remember it from the last time we had a subscription. The first entry featured only selections by the paper’s lead food critic, Rick Nelson, but he’s since been joined by another food writer, Sharyn Jackson. I’ve been reading it first with interest, then with increasing amusement and also a bit of exasperation. The series, you see, may provide an inadvertent window into how the Star Tribune sees the Twin Cities food scene. What do I mean? Read on! Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, Oct-Dec 2019 + The Year in Food

After spending a lot of the summer out of the Twin Cities, I was here for the rest of the year. We ate out on our regular schedule—roughly once a week—and I posted my accounts of most those meals in due course (a few will be reported on this month). Here now is my list of the top five dishes eaten in the Twin Cities in that period. My rules, as always for these lists, are: no more than one dish listed per restaurant; and, as far as possible, only those dishes listed that are reliably on the menu of the restaurant in question. This means that I will not be listing anything from the excellent lunch thalis I’ve eaten at Kabob’s in Bloomington, as the dishes on the thalis vary from day to day. I would, however, recommend that you go eat one of those thalis soon, perhaps even today. As a bonus, in this recap of the last quarter of the year, I throw in for free a list of my best meals of the year in the Twin Cities and also my best meals of the year, period. Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, July-September 2019

A little later than usual, here is my clickbaity list of the five best dishes I ate at Twin Cities restaurants in the last quarter. Same rules as always, except when I break them. That is to say, these lists are supposed to include only one dish per restaurant, and only dishes that are still likely to be available. I’m not breaking the first rule this time but the second one I am breaking in more than one way: there’s a dish from our recent dinner at Tenant on here and if it isn’t already off the menu it will be very soon; and not only do I have a dish on here that’s no longer available, it’s from a “restaurant” that’s no longer available. I put “restaurant” in quotes because I am referring to Golden Horseshoe, the outstanding Sichuan residency at Cook St. Paul that burned like a comet for two months in the summer before disappearing. All five restaurants on this quarter’s list have made an appearance on previous versions of the list. Yes, that means nothing from our dinner at Young Joni in early July made the cut. We’ll have to give them another try next year and see if we can figure out what the fuss is all about. But now, to the list (in reverse chronological order as usual)! Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, April-June 2019

After the double-bill that covered October 2018-March 2019 here is a regular top 5 list for the second quarter of 2019. I was out of town for a week in here too but we ate out quite regularly in the Twin Cities in the last three months (and have already gone out to eat once since i got back) and so I have no difficulty filling out this list. We ate at a number of highly regarded new(er) Minneapolis restaurants in this period and they show up in this list, as does the St. Paul branch of a Minneapolis favourite and a somewhat unusual residency at Cook St. Paul. Together they span a range of cuisines, genres and price-points. And they provide more evidence I think of the diversity and growing vibrancy of the Twin Cities’ dining scene, as recently celebrated by Rick Nelson in the Star-Tribune. Okay, let’s get to it. Continue reading

Top 10 Twin Cities Dishes, Oct. 2018-March 2019

Being out of the country in December I failed to post the last quarterly edition of my Top 5 Twin Cities dishes list. To make up for it here is an extra-long list to cover the last two quarters. We’ve not eaten very many high-end meals in the last six months and so this list is going to be more dominated than usual by the more affordable restaurants we eat out at far more often. Same rules as always: only one dish per restaurant and only dishes that seem to be mainstays on their menus. In a development I would not have predicted, a dish from an Indian restaurant actually appears on this list. I’m hopeful that another will appear on the next version of the list as well, as I’m hoping to continue my survey of a possibly improved local Indian restaurant scene. Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, July-September 2018

It’s October and therefore it is time for my list of top 5 dishes eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the third quarter of the year. The ground rules for this series of posts are a) that the dishes have to be ones that are either regularly available at the restaurants or still available at the time of the post; and b) that only dish will be listed per restaurant. Rule 1 prevents me from listing our favourite dishes from our dinner at Tenant in early September—their menu turns over every six weeks. And Rule 2 prevents me from listing three dishes from our recent lunch at Thai Cafe. The observant Twin Cities reader will notice that there are four restaurants in this list that are not just located in St. Paul but are located along one street in St. Paul. University Ave. in St. Paul is, in my opinion, the greatest food street in the area—I may have a separate post this month extolling its virtues. But to be fair, we just happened to not eat very much in Minneapolis in the last few months. Minneapolis may be better for high-end food but the food we crave most is more recent immigrant food, especially from Asia, and St. Paul is, on the whole, far superior to Minneapolis for those cuisines.  Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, April-June 2018

Here are the five best dishes I ate in the Twin Cities metro area for the period from April to June. Of course, since I was gone for almost all of June, it’s really my list of five best dishes eaten in April and May, but that’s just a detail. (See here for my list for the first quarter of the year.). It covers the spectrum from chaotic food court in a market to fine dining in a tony Minneapolis neighbourhood. And it covers a wide range of cuisines and geographies. Represented here are Mexican, Thai, Lao and Sichuan dishes, and even the fine dining dish incorporates Chinese flavours. I’m breaking the guideline in my first post against including dishes from restaurants whose menus change often. But the dish from my dinner at Tilia that’s included here was both very, very good and is still available as per their website. So at least as of now, you can still go eat all these dishes.  Continue reading

Top 5 Twin Cities Dishes, January-March 2018

I present this with apologies to Heavy Table for ripping off one of their features (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery etc.). I’ll only be doing this four times a year, not every week—so not very much ripping off. It’s a simple idea: the best five dishes I’ve eaten in the last quarter of the year in the Twin Cities. The emphasis is on dishes that are still/always available. If I’ve eaten something I liked a lot at a restaurant whose menu updates often, I will not include it here unless I ate it so recently that it would still be available for an appreciable amount of time to whichever poor schmuck might actually be influenced by one of my posts to go seek it out. This first installment accordingly does not include anything I ate at my birthday dinner at Spoon and Stable (the fusili with lamb ragu that I really liked is already gone). It does include a number of tasty things you can still find easily for much less than you’d pay at Spoon and Stable.  Continue reading