I’m from the Twin Cities but maybe would have voted Cleveland if I had known. I will be in Cleveland the first week in May. I was just there two separate times this past month. There is nothing like the West End Market or Sokolowski’s in Minneapolis. I’m traveling the whole month of May and probably the last half of April (mostly Cleveland, Indianapolis and Washington, DC) so that will be out for me.
In Minneapolis the Sons of Norway building will soon be demolished if it has not already. That’s the only time I had a Scandinavian “white dinner” during the holidays that consisted of lutefisk, cauliflower and potatoes. That was in 1980. You can put that idea to bed as far as I am concerned. It seems other parts of the country have false impressions about what Minnesotans eat as in grape salad no Minnesotan as ever heard of. http://www.startribune.com/huh-nyt-claims-grape-salad-is-quintessential-minnesotan-dish/283216051
Lutefisk is manufactured by the Olsen Fish Company http://www.olsenfish.com/
in Minneapolis but the product is most shipped overseas to Scandinavia and the rest is delivered over the border into Wisconsin for Lutheran church suppers.
Tater Tots are a manufactured item out west and are pretty ubiquitous everywhere in my travels. Hot Dish is just a casserole but there is a revival of it in restaurants in hipster, millennial restaurants now that the movie, Fargo, has come to the attention the uniqueness of Minnesota with it’s German/Scandinavian heritage. Yes, German, as said before, more immigrants than any. But there is no German heritage in food, not even breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches (Schnitzel) despite Minnesota being the second leading pork producing state to Iowa. They do make the Spam but mostly export it. Go to Wisconsin for brats other than Kramarczuk’s Deli https://kramarczuks.com
across the Mississippi River in Nordeast from downtown Minneapolis. Note that is not Scandinavian. The Nordeast neighborhood is mostly Eastern European as is the Iron Range in northern Minnesota.
I think it is clear you have to go out of the Twin Cities to get anything resembling heritage Scandinavian food in Carole’s and Cafe Stugga. Heck you would be better off going to the the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Now the Walleye. Yep, Minnesotan for sure, but you can get abundant Walleye in Lake Erie too and many restaurants near Cleveland serving the home caught thing. Most Walleye is a Canadian import as the only commercial fishery is the Red Lake Nation http://www.redlakewalleye.com/
You might be eating fake Walleye in low cost restaurants know as European Zander, https://sportsmansblog.com/2004/12/01/somethings_a_bi/
The best Walleye I had recently came from the Cov Restaurant in Wayzata, MN, https://www.covwayzata.com/
It beats Tavern on Grand hands down and you have a touch of Minnesota on the lakes, Lake Minnetonka.
If you want true Minnesota and what it’s about maybe take a trip on an Al & Alma’s dinner boat cruising Lake Minnetonka. https://al-almas.com/supper-club
Juicy Lucy hamburgers. They are more popular now since the cable food networks overly featured them. Before it was just a niche rivalry between Matt’s Bar, 5-8 Club and the Nook. The Nook is the best of the three. The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul, http://www.thebdp.com/#blucy
has their version, the Blucy that is rated a lot better. There are several restaurants that serve a better burger than the original three.
That really leaves the wild rice soup as the unique food in Minnesota. That should not be missed. Heck, I would defer to Dale on where to go. Wild rice is still mostly harvested by Ojibway tribes. California now exports more so called wild rice now but it is farm grown and is not the Minnesota strain of wild rice other than dark long grain resembling it.
If you want pure Minnesota, upscale, local sourced, Nordic and trendy there are a lot of restaurants but no other screams like The Bachelor Farmer in the downtown Minneapolis north warehouse loop. http://thebachelorfarmer.com/restaurant/
It was started by two sons of Governor Mark Dayton. Their mother was a Rockefeller. That’s pedigree. There are just so many others to mention. Millennials have a difference with this Roadfood group.
The real action in town is craft beer. There are several neighborhood tap rooms that brew on premise. In fact there are more than 85 in the Twin Cities alone and growing. Some have restaurants but many being neighborly have delivery from local restaurants or food trucks. I’m a founding owner of Unmapped Brewing Co. in Minnetonka. The most prominent is Surly Brewing, https://surlybrewing.com/
as a can’t miss by out of towners near the University of Minnesota. They pretty much started the trend in Minnesota with the passing of the Surly Bill in the state legislature in 2011. The second oldest brewery in the United States is Schell’s in New Ulm (yep German again) and they own the Grain Belt brand, the most popular brand the farmers drank when I first moved to Minnesota in 1970. Hamm’s Beer is a bought brand brewed in Milwaukee now. They don’t count for diddle in Minnesota anymore.
Al’s Breakfast is a dinky town (near the UofMN) and is an institution. It shouldn’t be missed. Mickey’s Diner has been the backdrop for several movies including A Prairie Home Companion, Robert Altman’s last directed movie. You get three birds with on stone in Garrison Kiellor’s demise from Public Radio, a movie back drop and a classic diner.
I don’t think you can visit the Twin Cities without going to the Mall of America. Of course I say that. I put three years of my career as the architectural technical director for that project. Lots of not so memorable restaurants unless Bubba Gump’s Shrimp House or Wahlburgers are your preference. When I go, I stock up on Rybicki’s Cheese on the third floor west side, but they are out of Wisconsin. They have been in the Mall since it opened in 1992 and I have been a loyal customer.
I’ve not mentioned new immigrant ethnic food. Yes there is a huge Somalia and Hmong population. In fact Minnesota may vote in the first Somalia female Muslim Congress person this November. That’s how significant it is in being able to carry a congressional district. My wife’s Scandinavian Norwegian cousin has moved to Sun City. AZ.
I could go on and on, but that is enough grist for the mill for now.
post edited by Davydd - 2018/09/23 14:11:11