Wednesday, December 30, 2009

7th Street Bistro - Saint Paul

I was sad to learn one of my favorite spots to grab a snack when I have Minnesota Wild tickets has changed ownership. I popped in for a Gyro before the game and unfortunately did not get the same great food I was used to. They used to have one of the best, and biggest gyros in town. Sadly that is no longer the case. I hope the new management figures it out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Punch Pizza - Saint Paul

If I ask my kids where they want to go to dinner their answer nine times out of ten is Punch. If you are looking for the best Neapolitan style pizza in the the Twin Cities then Punch is where you want to go. They take their pizza very serious here. From the 800 degree wood fired oven to the authentic dough and ingredients Punch will make you feel like you are in Naples Italy. You can choose your own toppings or pick from one of their 18 classic pizzas. If you're extra hungry try the excellent artichoke dip or fresh salad. You can get their pizza to take out, but I think it is so much better when it comes right out of the oven. They offer several interesting affordable wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. Punch is family friendly, but I've seen it get very busy. If you are in a hurry try the restaurant on Grand Avenue. You give up the table service, but you get your food much quicker. At the moment there are six Punch locations. Highland Park, Eden Prairie, Lake Calhoun, Northeast, Wayzata and Grand Avenue. A seventh punch location is opening on the University of Minnesota campus at Stadium Village. I can't think of a better place to start the evening if you are holding Minnesota Gophers Hockey tickets.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bario - St. Paul

Both Bario Tequila Bar locations are definitely two of the Twin Cities hottest spots right now. I've been to both, and both are great, but I must say I favor the Saint Paul location a little over the Minneapolis location on Nicollet Avenue. The space in Saint Paul is a lot bigger and it's always been easy for me to get a spot at the bar and parking is not a problem. When you go, sit at the bar for better service. They have several house margaritas. You can't go wrong with any of them. The food has also been consistently excellent.

If you go, you have to try the chips and guacamole and the black bean & chicken tostada. They've done an awesome job balancing flavor and texture. If you're holding Minnesota Wild tickets stop at Bario before or after the game for a great sports bar alternative and if it's packed the Bulldog is right next door. Bario St. Paul is located at 235 E. 6th St. across the steet from Smith Park near the corner of Wacouta & 6th. Bario's phone number is 651-222-3250 and you can make your reservations on open table.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vikings Packers game at the Metrodome - Minneapolis

My buddies from Milwaukee were in town this past week and we were not able to score any Vikings Packers tickets for the big game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. We decided to watch the game at the Groveland Tap in Saint Paul. The place was packed and the crowd was rowdy. My friends were impressed with the huge tap beer selection. They likened the Tap to a good old Wisconsin Tavern without all the cigarette smoke and Packer fans.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Groveland Tap - St Paul

It seems the the Groveland Tap in Saint Paul has been trending upwards the last few years. They offer a very impressive selection of beer on tap and a very good bar-food menu. I've been there the last two Thursdays for taco night. The tacos are simple and great. Hard or soft, beef or chicken and served with a side of sour cream and salsa. I'm no hot sauce afficianado, but I'm now hooked on the Marie Sharps habanero pepper hot sauce from Belize. I would say the hard chicken is my favorite, but I like all of the four combinations. There is a different special every night except Saturday. It seems like Taco Thursdays is the most popular. Some other highlights off the menu are the fried cheese curds, which I think are some of the best in town, nachos, perogies, the Juicy Lucy and Philly Cheese Steak.

The Groveland Tap is located in the Mac-Grovland neighborhood of Saint Paul just off the corner of St Clair and Fairview. They feature a large game area and it's a great place to bring the kids.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tsunami Sushi - Minneapolis

I have checked out Tsunami Sushi a couple of times since they've open and have yet to post due to the fact it seemed they were still working out some kinks. I've received multiple reports from others, some great and others not so great. I was lucky enough to score some Owl City tickets for the show at the Cabooze a week from Saturday. I will give Tsunami another go before the show and let you all know what I think.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bellanotte - Minneapolis

Another downtown Minneapolis night spot bites the dust. Bellanote, located in the Block E entertainment complex downtown Minneapolis, recently announced it is closing it's doors. A long time favorite destination for those attending events at Target Center, cited the changing economic climate as a major factor. Personally, I can't say I was ever a huge fan and they seemed to be trending downwards the last few years. It will be interesting to see if anyone is willing to jump into such a large space in this economy. It would be an ideal location to take advantage of the new Minnesota Twins ballpark, Target Field. Also, the Timberwolves can only get better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tsunami Sushi - Minneapolis

I was informed by a friend that Tsunami Sushi is opening in the old azuki Sushi spot near the University of Minnesota campus. The azuki ownership moved back to New York and a couple of the sushi chefs from Saji Ya in Saint Paul are opening up in the same location with a new menu. I'm hoping they will still have the New Orleans roll. I will check it out this weekend and report back with more information next week.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bar Lurcat - Minneapolis

I scored some Target Center Tickets for the Green Day show and decided to stop at Lurcat in Minneapolis beforehand. I think they have the best French Fries in the Twin Cities. Lurcat has both a sit down restaurant on one side and a large bar and outdoor patio on the other side. The restaurant is great, but I prefer the bar. Both the bar menu and dinner menu are available in the the bar. If you go, you must try the Fries with Bearnaise sauce and the mini burgers. You will become addicted. Lurcat is located just off Loring Park across the street from the Walker Art Center and the Basilica of St. Mary at 1624 Harmon Place. Parking is usually not a problem, but they do offer valet parking if you can't find a spot on the street. Bar Lurcat's hours are Monday - Thursday 5pm - 10 pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm - 1am, and Sunday 5pm - 9pm. Their phone number is 612-486-5500.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chirs & Rob's Chicago's Taste Authority - Saint Paul

I've driven past Chris & Rob's Chicago's Taste Authority on West 7th Street in Saint Paul numerous times and finally stopped to check it out. They are located in an old dining car previously occupied by Villa Pizza. It was nice to see they cleaned it up quite a bit. The added garage door was a nice touch. Anyone looking for a quick Chicago street-food-vendor fix this is your spot. The Chicago dog, made with Vienna Beef of course, will take you back to Wrigley Field with your first bite.

I can't claim to be an expert, but this was maybe the best hot Italian beef I've had anywhere. A gigantic portion of meat and pretty spicy. If you have Minnesota Wild tickets I would definitely recommend taking a pit spot here before the game. Chris & Robs Chicago's Taste Authority in St. Paul is open Monday - Saturday 11am - 9pm and Sunday 12 - 7pm. They are located at 603 West 7th Street in Saint Paul not far from Xcel Energy Center.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

azuki sushi closed - OH NO!

You may have heard my go-to sushi spot is closed forever. Earlier this month asuki sushi in Minneapolis closed and rumour has it the owners moved back to New York. The good news is a couple of sushi chefs from another of my favorite restaurants are opening their own sushi bar in the old azuki space. The sign on the window says opening soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Salut - Saint Paul

I seized on the opportunity to dine outside for the first time this year with the 80 degree temperatures. It was a perfect evening for Salut Bar Americain on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. This was probably my third time dining on the patio at Salut and all three times have been pretty consistent. Grand Avenue, and Saint Paul in general, are desperate for more places like Salut. I hope more local restaurateurs take note of Salut’s apparent success and open up more cool places to go out to. They were sure busy on this warm spring night. I’ve noticed on the half dozen or so times I here that it is a favorite spot for girl’s night out. Salut has a comfortable bar area that opens on to the large outdoor patio. There is also a large indoor dining room and even when they are very busy I’ve never had to wait longer than a couple drinks to get a table. I’m not sure is Salut is an American bar-restaurant trying to be a French bistro or a French bistro trying to be an American bar-restaurant. Either way it seems to work. You will feel comfortable here in a jacket and tie or t-shirt and flip flops. The food and service at Salut are good, but if they could kick it up a notch or two I think they would really have something. None the less, it is still probably the best option on Grand if you a looking for a spot to meet up with friends between Lexington and Dale that is a step up from the rest.

We started out with a generous portion of calamari which was lightly fried and served with both an aioli mayo and a roasted red pepper sauce. Both complimented the calamari nicely. I shared a crock of the French onion soup, which always hits the spot. For the main course I shared Le Cheeseburger Royale, a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion, served with excellent Pomme Frites and BĂ©arnaise sauce. The French fries with the side of BĂ©arnaise were the highlight. Unfortunately, the Lyonnaise frisee salad we shared was not so great. We finished off the evening with a gigantic piece of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. This cake is awesome and worth a trip just for desert.

I would put the menu prices on the reasonable moving towards the high side. There is plenty of variety on the menu as well. Anywhere from small plates to full blown steak and fresh seafood dinners. Salut is located at 917 Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. They are open Monday – Thursday 11am – 10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am – Midnight and Sunday 10am-10pm.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blue Door Pub - Saint Paul

I've been to the Blue Door Pub three times since it opened a few months back and each time it has been great. Located just off the corner of Selby and Fairview in the Merriam Park / Lexington - Hamline neighborhood, it's the perfect spot to grab a casual bite to eat or a great micro brew. It is a cozy little restaurant and it's been packed every time I've been there. But don't let the crowds discourage you. There is a small bar and plenty of great beer on tap. It's definitely worth the wait and the kids will love the chalk board walls in the booths. This would be a great spot before or after the game if have Minnesota Wild tickets.

My favorite appetizer has to be the Spam Bites. Spam, cream cheese, pickles rolled up into generous sized balls, breaded and deep fried. They are served with a spicy chili lime sauce and are out of this world. They also offer some the best fried green beans I've ever had. You can get them as an appetizer or on the side with your sandwich as an alternative to fries or tater tots. The tots are also excellent. Either plain, my preference, or Cajun.

I usually prefer a proper burger over the stuffed 'juicy lucy' style or 'Blucy' as they are called here, but the Blue Door Pub does a really nice job with theirs. On my last visit I tried the Frenchie, which was the burger of the day. Stuffed with Swiss cheese and caramelized onion on a toasted, buttered, super fresh bun and served with a side of au jus. This was incredible and I can't wait to satisfy my craving for another on my next visit. Another favorite of mine is the Pub Sandwich, which is basically a BLT with pepper jack cheese and a fried egg. I have also tried the Blucy, their specialty burger stuffed with blue cheese and garlic, and their straight up cheese burger. Both are worth coming back for.

The Blue Door Pub is located at 1811 Selby Avenue. They are open Monday - Sunday 11am - 1am. The phone number is 651-493-1865.