Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo

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Pigiron
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2011/06/08 13:38:01 (permalink)

Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo

Hey folks,  good to see that a lot of the old regulars are still around.  I haven't been visiting this site at all for the past year or so due to circumstances beyond my control.  Mainly:  I've become a suburbanite.   One year ago I left the brick and steel canyons of Manhattan for the verdant environs of the Garden State.  We found a wonderful house on a tree-lined street in a very quiet little town in Bergen County.  The only problem is that I hate it.   Well...no, I don't really hate it, but I'm having a hard time adjusting.  I miss living in the city terribly- mostly lifestyle of a city dweller,  but this really was the best move for my family.  The schools are great, the air is clean and our cost of living has been cut about in half.  I definitely DO hate commuting (I walked to and from work for over 20 years- now I take a bus to the nightmare known as the Port Authority). 
 
Anyway, with a 2 1/2 year old kid, my road trips have been whittled down to almost nothing.  We stay pretty local most of the time.  But I'm thrilled to say that my annual baseball road trip tradition is alive and well, and my 18th annual journey will take place in a few weeks, and will take me  me to Minneapolis and Fargo.  So here's where I'm looking for recommendations:
 
- I have only been to M/SP once, and it was way back in 1995- before I knew how to find real food.  So we'll certainly be hitting some local institutions like Hell's Kitchen, Al's Breakfast and at least one Juicy/Jucy Lucy (either Matt's, 5-8 or The Nook, whichever is most convenient).  So aside from those spots, where would you recommend that we visit for a great meal with LOCAL flavor?  I know there's a lot of "top chef" type places in the area, but we can find cutting edge cuisine in NY any day.  We're looking for "local institution" type places. 
 
-We'll be traveling to Fargo along the more scenic northern route- Route 10.  Is there ANYTHING good to eat along the way?
 
- I saw WJ's picture of Sour Cream Raisin Pie at TNT Diner in Fargo, so I will almost certainly be stopping there.  Any other "must stop" places in Fargo?
 
- We're going back to M/SP via the interstate.  Any good ice cream along that route?
 
- Finally, our hotel is in downtown Minneapolis.  Where's a good non-tourist place to get a few beers on a Friday night?
 
Ahhh...it's good to be talking about this stuff again!!!!!!!!  I look forward to any/all responses. 
 
Pigiron
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9 Replies Related Threads

    buffetbuster
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/08 14:29:44 (permalink)
    Pigiron-
    It's good to hear from you again.  And congratulations on the move.  What a trip it sounds like you will be having.
     
    For a bar in downtown Minneapolis, you may wnt to check out the previously Roadfood reviewed Nye's Polonaise Room.  It certainly is atmospheric!
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    rumaki
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/08 14:45:54 (permalink)
    Nye's is an institution, and well worth a visit, but it's in Nordeast, not downtown.
     
    Right downtown is Brit's Pub -- http://www.britspub.com/
    Outdoor seating, all kinds of beer, ale, scotch, cider (Strongbow on tap), etc.
     
    If you can get yourself to St. Paul, and if you like walleye, you'll enjoy the Tavern on Grand (which appears in the new Roadfood book).
    http://www.tavernongrand.com/
    post edited by rumaki - 2011/06/08 14:53:16
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    Pigiron
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/09 09:28:32 (permalink)
    @BB- That certainly looks like an interesting place to have a drink.  Maybe I'll go in and oder an Appletini just to see their reaction. 
     
    @rumaki- Tavern on Grand is on the short list for Friday dinner.  I've never had walleye, I'm assuming it's a kind of lake fish?  I love fish of all kinds, and my travelling partner eats no mammals, so that looks like a great choice.  Any great homemade ice cream in town?
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/09 23:34:54 (permalink)
    Pigiron
     
    I'm guessing you still work at the same place- wow that was twenty life times ago for me!
     
    I'm actually on my first roadtrip right now in 9 months- No 2 1/2 year old kid issues though- just some other issues.
    Yes TNT's Diner in fargo is a must.
     
    For juicy lucys- I enjoyed The Nook in St Paul-
    I did go to a great brewpub right next to the Holiday Inn Metrodome- and no it wasn't Rock Bottom- it was a LOCAL
    brewpub, unfortunately the name of it escapes me but it is literally right next to that Holiday Inn Metrodome.
     
    Not sure how long you might be in the Twin Cities but you may want to consider Keys Cafe for breakfast- it is a local Twin Cities Chain-if you do go- check out the original location in ST Paul- I totally recommend the Loon Omelet which has wild rice in it.
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    Davydd
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/10 10:49:39 (permalink)
    I'm from the Twin Cities but I have not been in town all that much visiting restaurants. I'm on the road more.9,000 miles in back road driving so far this year. So ask me about the Old Bisbee Brewery.

    WJ, the brew pub is the Town Hall Brewery on Washington Ave S.

    The Nook burned down and was rebuilt and is open again. I haven't been to the re-opening but I understand it has lost its "Nookness" of old sports memorabilia dating back to the 40s. I probably won't go again until my former next door neighbor, Cretin HS alumnus (across the street from the Nook) visits again from New Zealand. Of Matt's, 5-8 Club and Nook I thought the Nook had the best Juicy Lucy but my favorite is a lamb burger stuffed with goat cheese from McGarry's Irish Pub in Maple Plain (on the way to Fargo, BTW). Dare to be different. More upscale and gourmet? Vincent, a French Restaurant on Nicollet Mall serves an excellent one at the bar.

    Keep in mind all walleye is imported Canadian walleye and is ubiquitous in most Minnesota restaurants. Tavern on Grand is no better than many of the others. I know I have had better. Having remodeled, Tavern on Grand has lost its "place". I think I would take my chances and find a walleye in lake country like Alexandria, MN if I wanted to try one.

    Nye's Polonaise Room is a Minneapolis institution. I've been going there off and on for over 40 years. It's a curiosity and fun place. You don't go there for the food. What was great was the kitschy sing along the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band. I haven't been back since longtime entertainer, Ruth Adams died. You may have missed out on a era.

    Other bars? Rumaki's suggestion of Brits is a good one especially on a hot day when you can go up to the rooftop lawn bowling yard. When I worked downtown The Local was up a block from Brits and catty corner from my office. That's the best place in town to quaff a Guinness and they claim to sell more Jameson than any place in the United States.

    Breakfast? Hell's Kitchen is good as is Keys. They both have better breakfasts than Al's Breakfast but can't match the atmosphere and uniqueness. Hell's Kitchen lost its mojo for me when it moved from its original site. You can't go wrong with any of them. If you like eggs Benedict, the Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley has the most extensive selection. I usually go to Maggie's in Wayzata for a glutoness filling breakfast. Breakfast on the freeway? Pull off on any small town. We stopped at Charlie's Cafe in Freeport, MN last February on the way to Fargo. That's what I do - breakfast roulette in small towns. Rarely do I get a clunker (for breakfast).

    You can find cutting edge cuisine outside of New York and here in the hinterlands. If you do want to eat exquisitely at least once substitute that Tavern on Grand dinner for Restaurant Alma operated by a James Beard winning chef making hand crafted dinners with fresh, seasonal, organic and local ingredients with a definite Minnesota regional flavor. That's my favorite upscale place. If your partner doesn't eat mammal then Spoonriver might be another option only I haven't been there yet.

    Ice Cream? Google Sebastian Joe's. There are several sources and that one usually gets the nod in Minneapolis. If you want Midwest different then try a frozen custard. I would recommend Adele's Frozen Custard in Excelsior. Excelsior, BTW, is my stomping grounds. A great little town 18 miles west of downtown Minneapolis on Lake Minnetonka.
    post edited by Davydd - 2011/06/10 10:51:09
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    Pigiron
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/10 11:19:42 (permalink)
    WJ: Yes, still plugging away at the same organization for over 22 years now.  It's an awful long time.  Luckily, my job has really grown and evolved to the point where I'm comfortable.  The job also allows me to do some consulting on the side, which is very nice.  The DB plan doesn't hurt either.
     
    Are you still in RI?  In the same industry?  Do you ever hear from LL? 
     
    We have time for 2 breakfasts in M/SP, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be Hell's Kitchen and Al's.  Those are both places that I've been wanting to try for a long time. 
     
    As for the Juicy Lucy, I think all signs point to The Nook.  I know Matt's is an institution, but the place just looks so dumpy and the burgers do not look like anything special.  We'll see.  No great ice cream or custard in Minneapolis?
     
    Still hoping for some suggestions for Route 10 between Minny and Fargo, or along I-94 along the same route.  Looks pretty barren. 
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/10 11:35:14 (permalink)
    Pigiron, I know your time is limited and your schedule is probably already fairly set, but in case you have the time you could make the drive to Madison to check out the Mallards.  The "Duck Pond" was given a million-dollar makeover prior to this season and it really shows.
     
    Brad
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2011/06/10 11:37:16
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    Pigiron
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/10 15:42:54 (permalink)
    @Davydd: Thanks for all that fantastic information.  So THREE places I planned on visiting have been vastly remodeled, burned down or otherwise lost their mojo??  Bummer!  Thanks for the ice cream info.  I only indulge (generally) while on vacation, so I greatly look forward to finding the good stuff.
     
    @ScreamingChicken: Thanks for the info, but there's no way our agenda would allow for an excursion like that.  If I recall, the last time I went through Madison (2001?), there was no minor league team there.  We wound up in Beloit instead. 
    post edited by Pigiron - 2011/06/10 15:44:07
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    Davydd
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    Re:Back in the road trip game (for 2 days anyway): Minneapolis to Fargo 2011/06/10 16:56:20 (permalink)
    Pigiron, I wasn't trying to put a damper on the Twin Cities but I think you yourself nailed it with your comments about Matt's Bar. You saw through it. It was the reputed first Jucy Lucy or what started the stuffed burger craze in the Twin Cities, but it is not an exceptional place in my mind either, nor do I think its burger stands with others. But for many it is just all in the mind. The Nook could be another. I'll hold judgment but the owners also have the Shamrock's Bar on West 7th in St. Paul with the same identical menu but locals swear there is a difference and major one at that. See, I think it is all in the mind. Wanderingjew mentions the St. Paul location yet the Minneapolis Keys is much nicer. There are a few others around town and they are all individually run by different family members. As for the food itself they are all good. But the mind plays games with that opinion. Hell's Kitchen played with my mind in moving. I ate numerous times at the original site when they were first developing. It just won't be the same. If I want walleye I am not going to drive 30 miles to Tavern on Grand now that I have done it a few times. I can get better sandwiches pier side on Lake Minnetonka. But T on G is in the bible. Can't argue with that. I'll still drive 30 miles to the Nook just because it has kind of become a tradition when my New Zealand former neighbor visits.
     
    It's good to have Roadfood books, cable TV shows, etc. to spotlight deserving places but at the same time some are elevated higher than they should be and some hang on maybe undeservedly long after things change. I'm tempted to go to a bowling alley in Nordeast Minneapolis tonight for a pork tenderloin sandwich. I don't think the place has ever been highlighted on the internet, in a book or on TV.
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