What To Eat in Minnesota
Much as we love traveling through the countryside to eat at Minnesota’s small town cafes, taverns, smoke houses, and pie palaces, the city of Minneapolis is a culinary siren song. Highlights include the inside-out cheeseburger known as a Juicy Lucy, farm-to-table diners, cutting-edge donut shops, and artisan bakeries.
The Juicy Lucy (alternately spelled Jucy Lucy) is an inside-out cheeseburger, meaning the cheese is completely secreted inside the meat. As the beef cooks, the lode of cheese inside melts. If an unsuspecting eater takes a hearty bite of one hot off the grill, the molten center erupts and can seriously hurt tongue, lips, and fingers. Experienced eaters know to wait a while or to gingerly hoist the burger and take a dainty bite that reveals just enough of the cheese cavern so that some of it can be dripped onto accompanying French fries.
The state fish of Minnesota (as well as of South Dakota) – so moist and squeaky-clean when pan-fried or grilled – serves as a dinner entrée or in a sandwich on a torpedo roll or burger bun. Walleye is so beloved by eaters of the north country that it also is made into walleye cakes, walleye bites, walleye BLTs, walleye shore lunches, and surf 'n' turf suppers of walleye and sirloin.
Once a staple in self-published cookbooks throughout the heartland, sour cream raisin pie is now found almost exclusively in Midwest dairy country – Wisconsin and Minnesota, primarily, with occasional sightings in Iowa and Illinois. It is a powerhouse pie that balances sweet custard and sour cream, flaky crust and silky filling, the concentrated intensity of raisins and the ethereal cloud of airy meringue on top.
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The Blue Door is a small chain of neighborhood pubs with tasty variations on the Twin Cities’ signature stuffed cheeseburgers.
Revival offers superb Southern soul with some Northern twists, like cheese curds fried in buttermilk. Fried chicken is as good as it gets.
The Egg and I is a surviving old-school diner in hip Uptown Minneapolis. Many come for dinner plate-sized pancakes
Nelson's is a long-time St. Paul scoop shop that pleases crowds with eye-popping portions of ice cream in dozens of flavors.
Isles is the place to go for great cinnamon buns, sticky or iced, and a rotating selection of other cafe companions, including divine coffee cake.
In the heart of downtown, one of the Twin Cities’ oldest lunch spots is a cafeteria that serves old-world flavors and charm by the ladle.
Safari Xpress is a Somalian food-court concept centered around such Horn of East Africa dishes as camel stew and sambusas.
Schmidt's is an historic Danish bakery skilled in the soft pastry arts. Their cake bar creation, “The Mokol,” and Tart Cookies provide a delightful sugar rush.
Groveland Tap is a beer bar that serves excellent Juicy Lucy’s and one of the best Friday fish fries in the Twin Cities.