A Foodie’s Guide to US Bank Stadium-Home of Super Bowl LII

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The glass walls of US Bank Stadium reflect the glistening Minneapolis skyline in the background while entrapping the sheer excitement of fans.  Even on a normal game day, the atmosphere is one of grandiose amazement.  I can only imagine what the stadium will be like on February 4th.

While the newly completed stadium is a sight to behold, the experience of attending a game is not second best.  Local eateries and chefs have put in a great deal of effort to curate to fans for the ultimate game day experience; one that is still overpriced, but one that will not make you feel like peeling over from eating too many crappy nachos at the end of the game.  One thing is certain, the stadium and the NFL will be pulling out all the stops for the big game.

Most older stadiums tend to serve only overpriced deep-fried American “classics” which don’t always settle well in the stomach.  While chicken fingers and nachos are typical, and they are available at US Bank, most of the food in the stadium is thankfully pretty gourmet and tasty.  With changing eating habits and an emphasis on healthier foods, American fans are sick of the classic hot dog and beer combo.  Celebrity chef and Minneapolis native Andrew Zimmern, who is revolutionizing game-day food through his successful restaurant stands in Minnesota stadiums, said that “People expect better food these days” and “We put our best foot forward, not despite the fact that it’s a stadium, but because it’s a stadium” (The Star Tribune). It’s true.  The food is still overpriced, but I know that I’m personally much more willing to pay more for something that I’d actually like than something that I’d never eat out of a stadium.

Here are some of the best foods found at US Bank Stadium.

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The roasted chicken sandwich at AZ Canteen.  This booth is one of Zimmern’s ventures and serves up many different carnivorous options that are sure to delight any meat lover.  The chicken was juicy and tender while tasting great with cajun spices.

 

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Smoky Chicken Nachos from Twin Cities Foodie.  These serve as an upgrade to the fake cheesy classic nachos that seem to have embedded themselves into stadium fare.  They are spicy but flavorful.

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Fried Chicken Sandwich from Revival.  I guess that chicken seems to be a common theme, but it is so good at the Stadium.  Revival is a popular Minneapolis-based southern fried chicken restaurant that has transferred their well-known chicken sandwiches to the football stadium.  This was my favorite as the fried chicken was paired perfectly with mayonnaise, tomatoes, and pickles.  Also available in Tennesse-style hot (tasty but a challenge to finish).  Delicious!

 

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Frozen Hot Chocolate from AZ Canteen.  This unconventional desert is a must try for a chocolate lover.  I would describe it as a frozen chocolate mousse paired with white chocolate covered cereal on top.  It is sort of like ice cream, but better than what stadium ice cream is usually like.

 

 

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Bomboloni from AZ Canteen.  Ok, this canteen place is really good.  I feel like anything there would be worth a try.  Before the game, my family shared these beignet-like donut holes for breakfast.  They are just as good as they look and sound!

Overall, the best places…

  • AZ Canteen:  Gourmet meat sandwiches and bbq along with unique desserts and drinks.
  • Revival Fried Chicken:  Fried chicken exemplar, enough said.
  • Minneapolis Foodie:  Focuses on gourmat food options that are targeted to more sophisticated fans.
  • 612 Burger Kitchen:  A classic burger stand serving well-made burgers with fries and tots.
  • Curds ‘N Cakes:  If you really want to pig out, indulge in some fabulous beer battered cheese curds.

Find out more here

 

Minneapolis Restaurants-Borough

Right in the heart of the North Loop lies Borough, an innovative American restaurant with an ever changing menu filled with classics and unique dishes.  It’s a fairly small place, but on a Friday night, it’s bopping.  The space looks industrial and casual, but the booths are cozy and the dim lighting offers a more sophisticated atmosphere.

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The menu is unusual since there are 3 courses listed with the first two being small plates.  You can order off of any of the courses which presents plenty of options.  I decided to get 3 dishes from the first course while other people ordered a first/second and a third.

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I started with the sturgeon which was about as good as it looks.  The fish was smoked with capers, onions, eggs and cream cheese along with an “everything” crêpe.

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Next, I ordered the steak tartare which was prepared with mushrooms and a raw egg. What I loved about it was the extra little sauce reductions that came with it. The black was a truffle reduction and the white was a milk one. They paired beautifully on the toast together.

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I ordered the duck confit for my small “entré” which was made delicious by the lingonberries that it was garnished with.  The duck was cooked fabulously and tasted delicious with the sweet/sour addition of the berries.

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The deserts at Borough are very unusual as the choices are limited but extravagant.  I ordered the persimmon dish which had a custard, a to die for sauce, sour cream ice cream and dried sponge cake.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but I ended up loving it!

Here are some of the other dishes that were ordered.  Everyone agreed that they were great!

Overall, Borough is a great place to have a special dinner if you enjoy funky and innovative food.  The menu is a little mature, so it might not be the place for picky eaters.  However, if you want to try something different then this is the place.  The only down side is that the restaurant gets very loud as it gets busier and I believe it is because of the limited space.  It gets a little hard to hear, but the food is definitely worth it!

Website: http://boroughmpls.com

Minneapolis Food-Glam Doll Donuts

Gourmet donuts have become really popular recently.  We Americans have always loved a good donut with coffee on a Sunday morning but our obsession and demand has grown.  We now crave more than just an old-fashioned glazed from the grocery store.  We want the over the top, the obscure and the finest.  When I find myself at a donut shop, I tend to look for the most outrageous, the one that I can’t get anywhere else.

A little bit ago, I caught word of a newer donut shop right in the heart of Minneapolis.  People had been instagraming pictures of neon bright beautifully designed donuts from Glam Doll, so I figured I had to try it out.

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The fun exterior or Glam Doll.

I came on a Saturday morning and joined the line that curved down the street.  That had to mean it was good.  After waiting, I got to the counter and ordered 2 donuts out of the dozens of unique kinds from the display case.  The display case itself is quite impressive since it is beautifully laid out and eye catching.  I ordered a lemon creme cheese cruller and a blackberry filled parmesan cheese cake donut.  My friend got a plain frosted one which she described as amazing.

They really were well worth the wait.  The cruller literally melted in my month and I was obsessed with the frosting that came on top of it.  The blackberry one was maybe a little too rich, but I really enjoyed it being paired with parmesan cheese making the donut one of a kind.  They also have some interesting savory donuts such a Sriracha donut and beer blended donut.

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My beautiful breakfast at glam doll!

The shop is super cute with fun little decorations and a pink color scheme.  The sitting area is surprisingly quiet which allows you to relax while eating.  They also have a coffee shop like area with all sorts of coffee and tea to enjoy the donuts with, making the experience complete.

I highly recommend venturing to uptown on a weekend morning to discover fabulous donuts in a great environment.  It all makes for a great outing.

Best Pizza in the Twin Cities

America, the land of opportunity and… pizza?  Although Italian, it seems as though our culture has really adapted to the pizza craze and as it has become threaded into our lives.  “Pizza and a movie?, Pizza and a football game?, Having friends over? Pizza?”.  These phases we have all heard countless times as pizza has become embedded into our lives.  However, for many of us, like me, Pizza Hut just doesn’t really cut it anymore.  Why stuff ourselves with artificial fast food junk when our country has plenty of alternatives to enjoy the classic American meal.

While I’m always on the look out for a new good pizza places, I’ve secured my favorites in the Minneapolis area.  If you live in the Twin Cities or planning on visiting, I highly recommend you give both Punch Pizza and Hello Pizza a shot.

Punch Pizza is a local chain with multiple locations spread out across the metro.  It is one of the only places where you can get real and authentic Neapolitan pizza.  It might not be quite as good as the stuff you’d find in Italy, but it’s pretty darn close.  A favorite among many, you can order to eat in or take out.  The wait is relatively short and the place is quite casual.  It has a sort of casual Italian street cafe feel to it.  I’m not sure if you can go wrong with any of the pizzas but my personal favorite is the Margherita Extra.  It’s similar to the classic Margherita ( which is also delicious) but instead of regular mozzarella, it has buffalo mozzarella and whole cooked cherry tomatoes on top of it.

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Margherita Extra from Punch!

Completely different from Punch, Hello offers great gourmet New Style Pizza in a fun and quirky setting.  I’m not even sure what to interior is suppose to imitate, but I do know that it is cool.  They have a photo booth in a corner where you can pay an extra dollar to get a string of pictures and post it around the walls of the place.  As for the pizza,  I would recommend the Sicilian which is a thicker square piece with blobs of fabulous sauce, cheese and basil or the Hello Rita which is an Americanized Margherita.   I’ve also heard the Hello Trinity is good too.  They have a great salad called Smoky Greens which is a salad topped with blue cheese, onion, pine nuts and delicious dressing.  Oh and save room for some irresistible soft served ice cream complete with your choice of toppings that include salted caramel and salted olive oil (it is actually very good).

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The funky interior of Hello.  

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Hello Rita!

Patrick’s Bakery- classic cafe in Edina, MN

Driving into the parking lot at an unassuming suburban strip mall, one doesn’t expect to find a quaint french cafe.  However, Patrick’s Bakery is all but what you’d think.  It has plenty of traditional french options, as well as more original ones.  Wether, you eat in or take-out (my favorite), you are in for a treat.  Not only is the food fabulous, but the deserts and pastries are just as, if not more, appetizing.

Patrick’s is a great place for a quick lunch and take out is super easy.  I highly recommend the quiches, especially the quiche Lorraine which is cooked to a perfect creamy consistency.  The tomato mozzarella sandwich is also great, thanks to the exceptional olive bread used, and you can’t go wrong with the traditional Croque Monsieur.

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The alluring desert case is filled with mouth watering delicacies displayed beautifully when you walk into Patrick’s.  

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The Croque Monsieur is very traditional but very good.  Every entry comes with a salad on the side.  The dressing is really delicious.  

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The tomato mozzarella sandwich along with a French Limonade, a soda made with different kinds of syrup.  This one here is raspberry.  

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A desert called an Abracadabra which is a sort of raspberry lemon tart with a mouse on top.  I find that the presentation is fabulous.  

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A tri-chocolate cake consisting of milk, dark and white mouse layered with cake and covered in a hard layer of milk chocolate.  This is another great and unique desert.  

Patrick’s Bakery: http://patricksbakerycafe.com

Southdale Square
2928 West 66th Street Edina, Minnesota

 

Belizean Cuisine

Belize offers plenty of different flavors when it comes to food.  The culture is a true melting pot and the food is no exception.  From traditional Mexican dishes and Belizean staples such as rice and beans to a broad range of seafood fished right out of the Caribbean.  While spending time there, I had the opportunity to try many new things while discovering the culture of the country.  To be honest, Latin American cuisine isn’t really my forte but I still managed to enjoy several of the foods that I tried.

Regarding restaurants in San Pedro, I really enjoyed Elvi’s and Pineapple’s Restaurant for dinner while Estel’s was great for breakfast.

Elvi’s was a fun seafood joint with a great atmosphere that served many traditional Belizean plates.  I enjoyed the conch fritters, a speciality of Caye Ambergris.  To me, they tasted like a crab fritters but less fishy.  Conch has a very mild taste that can be associated with the taste of chicken.  However, they were still quite tasty as the batter was fried perfectly and presented on top of sticks resulting in a fun but unusual presentation.  Other people had various kinds of fish or ceviche and we agreed that they were all prepared very well.  The atmosphere is like a beach even though it is indoors.  There is sand on the floor and fake lit up trees.  The walls are covered in paintings made by local artists.  They were all for sale and contributed to a very colorful ambiance.

Pineapple’s Restaurant’s food was similar in that they served a lot of fresh seafood.  However, it was slightly less traditional and maybe a little more Americanized.  The atmosphere is what made the experience stand out.  The restaurant is located outside just off the beach under a canopy of thatched roofs and tiki huts, creating an ultimate tropical dinner experience complete with a fresh Pina Colada.  I ordered the coconut shrimp which was ordinary but excellent while many of my peers ordered the lobster, being the first day of lobster season down there.  They found it amazing, pointing to the fact that it was super fresh and they were enjoying it on the beach.

Estel’s has been a long time favorite among San Pedro visitors and I can see why.  They are known for their classic Belizean breakfasts and their fabulous location on the beach.  I ventured over there with my group for the first breakfast we had in Belize.  They set the bar very high.  So high that no other place could top the food at Estel’s for breakfast.  Everybody ordered the fryjacks which are a Belizean variation of a french beignet.  Top them with butter and sugar, jam, hot sauce, you name it… They will always be delicious.  I preferred them with butter and sugar since I could fully appreciate the fried goodness of the actual fry jack without too much flavor.  Besides the fryjacks, Estel’s had great omelets and fruit that one could also have to fulfill a big appetite.

These restaurants were a delight but it was the smaller stands and speciality food shops that really characterized the best in Belizean Cuisine for me.  The Belizean people are masters of sweet and deserts.  After a long morning spent working in extreme heat, walking through town eating a fresh popsicle or milkshake was extremely refreshing.  Here were some of my favorite places to satisfy a sweet tooth on Ambergris Caye.

My favorite was hands down The Belizean Chocolate Company which was conveniently located right near where I was staying.  This place was fabulous.  Not only did they offer homemade gourmet chocolates and truffles but also these amazing chocolate shakes, available in three different flavors.  In addition, the boutique sold a wide range of bath and body products made from Belizean chocolate.  My group made a habit of visiting this place everyday after work to cool down and splurge on the chocolatey goodness.  I would recommend the chocolate banana shake and the Island crunch toffee truffle.  If toffee isn’t your thing, then try the Mayan Pyramid which is filled with coconut rum cream.

Another fun place was a local fruit and snack stand on 3rd street in San Pedro.  It didn’t have a name but it had a lot of great fruit, nuts and treats that we all enjoyed.  The mango on a stick was perfectly rip and I loved it even though I’m not a big mango person.  Also, the coconut candy was out of this world while we all fell in love with Tamarin nuts, a tropical nut that tastes either like brown sugar or a spicy chili being that their were two kinds, sweet and spicy.

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Delicious and sweet coconut candy!

A great place for dessert or an afternoon snack was Manelly’s homemade ice cream.  Many people enjoyed the ice cream but it was the popsicles that blew our minds away and kept us coming back multiple times.  All made right in the shop, the popsicles sat in a cooler ready to be taken out and enjoyed for only 65 American cents!  Flavors ranged from traditional strawberry to exotic “Sweet corn” and tropical coconut.  I tried many but the sweet corn was my favorite as it was different and unconventional.

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Sweet Corn popsicle from Manelly’s

Together, the foods I tried in Belize really helped shape my understanding of the culture while enriching my overall experience.  Not everything was amazing but I can say that I tried a lot of great new things while creating memories that will last forever as I continue to explore the world with my tastebuds!

Restaurant Review-“Coconut Thai”- Edina, MN

Here it is, my first restaurant review!FullSizeRender-17.jpg

Tucked behind other popular 50th and France establishments is the newly founded “Coconut Thai”.  Chef Nong, being influenced by thai cuisine her whole life, wanted to finally open her own spot and share the joys Thailand with the Minneapolis metro region.  With years of experience behind her, chief Nong infuses”Coconut Thai” with a refreshing take on traditional thai plates in a casual and cool setting.

The atmosphere is perfect for a pleasant lunch or a quick night out with family.  Nothing too fancy yet refined and classy at the same time.

The food itself is great.  I would recommend getting multiple appetizers to share since there are so many choices to chose from.  Try the spring roles or the chicken satay.  On the sweeter side, the cream cheese wontons and the curry puffs are perfect indulgences for a craving sweet tooth.  Most of the appetizers cFullSizeRender-1.jpgome with various dipping sauces that fabulously go with the food.  As for the main dishes, they are huge.  Expect to share or take home.  Fortunately, many of the entries serve as great leftovers and can be easily transported to work or school the next day.  Entries are split into different categories with different variations of a classic dish.  For example, they is a category for curry, stir fry and fried rice. Each come in different unique flavors.  I enjoyed FullSizeRender-18.jpgthe pineapple fried rice which was a delicious mix of sweet and salty.  The funky hallowed out pineapple bowl made the dish delightful and contributed to the fabulous presentation.

As for the service, you could tell that they were new.  It took a while for a waiter to come over and get us water and when the order came, it came all at once.  We were left with a ton of food in front of us at a small overwhelmed table.  Also, they were out of some of their drink products including a Thai juice that I wanted to try.  However, the staff were friendly and the food didn’t take too long which is promising for a new restaurant.  I’m sure that once they become more established, they will be able to overcome the flaws that I experienced.

Overall, I would highly recommend “Coconut Thai” if you are looking for good and innovative thai food or just want to try something new.  I was surprised to see how busy it was on a Tuesday night and I hope that they continue to experience that kind of success once they are ingrained in the 50th and France restaurant scene.  I know that I will for sure pay them another visit.