One is the Loneliest Hunger

Fresh Squeeze at Tao Foods

2200 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.; 377-1857

Harry Singh's Caribbean Restaurant

Location Info


Tao Natural And Organic Foods

2200 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

3205 Cedar Ave., Mpls.; 729-6181

Pho Quan

1818 Nicollet Ave., Mpls.; no number listed

Don't feel ashamed if your chances for harvesting the fruits of Valentine's Day are bleak, if indeed the love fields are barren. Many of us share your predicament. If you concede that something is missing emotionally in your life, you may find yourself with a taste for destruction. Most feed this hunger with the tried-and-true diet of excessive boozing, eating, smoking, and who knows what else. What to do when you are oh-so-lonely but don't want to fall too deep into pathos?

If you're going to pillage and consume your way out of melancholy, you might as well do it in a place that has your health in mind. Fresh Squeeze at Tao Foods is a fine place to start. First of all, they have a counter. If you are going to be eating alone, a counter is the least conspicuous place to do it. Secondly, if you find yourself looking and feeling sallow, the shelves of Tao Foods are full of promises, books, vitamins, powders, salves, oils, and herbs, all primed to turn you into a vibrant creature.

If you don't believe me, just eyeball the staff, who certainly all look like they've been sampling the products, what with their clear-as-day skin and shiny hair. One would stop and ask the secret to their radiance, but then again, you never know when someone is going to tell you about colonic cleanings. Better keep your curiosity in check or else take your appetite elsewhere.

The cafe offers a simple basic menu with lots of embellishments. A large paper cup of miracle juices should restore you; carrot with ginger ($2.55) is my favorite, but take your pick from the garden, which includes wheat grass, spinach, beets, celery, cucumbers, and more, all $2.35 give or take $.20 for a shot of garlic, ginger, or parsley. Smoothies are available too, made with apple cider, ice, and the fruit of your choice for $2.75, give or take a quarter or two for added protein powder, wheat germ, yeast, spirulina, or yogurt.

As for entrees, while rice and vegetables don't necessarily sound very exciting, this is one of the best places to go for them. Five bucks gets you a platter of steamed brown organic rice topped with, on my visit, kale, purple cabbage, carrots, and yellow squash, and treated with lots of garlic and ginger. In case you like to bury your food with other flavors, the countertops are full of accessories (big bottles of amino acids, organic barbecue sauces, hot sauces, sesame oils, and hot sauces) ready to top off your plate. And--not that this has any bearing on the point of this particular article--the plate does have enough food for two. Soup and sandwiches and breakfast items round things out, all of them hearty and from the earth, with nothing over $5 on the entire menu.

If you've recently been spurned or dumped, you may not be ready to face your friends. In that case, I highly recommend a trip to Harry Singh's Caribbean Restaurant. Off the beaten path, your chances of running into any acquaintances are slim to nil. Moreover, Caribbean comfort food and pink flamingos are just are what the doctor ordered (if the doctor is a shrink with a food fetish) when the world is giving you a cold shoulder. I advise the callaloo--a hodgepodge of spinach, okra, and chicken sauced in coconut juice, butter, and spices over rice ($10)--with a glass of Harry's homemade peanut punch ($1.50). If you aren't in the mood for feasting your brains out, a fine meal can be made of Singh's roti, dough filled curried potatoes and your choice of meat or vegetables baked to a golden crisp.

And finally, there's Pho Quan, where dining alone is pretty much encouraged. It's a little hard to find, a small closet with the proud words "The Best Vietnamese Soup In Town" plastered on the front door. Inside, paper plates sternly proclaim that "We serve one order for one, No Sharing, except children," and "Sorry, We serve one order for one, not for two." It almost makes you glad to be alone among the other patrons, loudly slurping your pho and sniffling from all the jalapeño peppers you threw in your bowl. Soup here comes in three sizes: medium ($4), large ($4.50), and super ($5.50). I couldn't even finish the smallest size. It is indeed glorious soup, spiced broth with pho noodles stocked with your choice of vegetables and tofu, beef sirloin, chicken, or shrimp, with plates on the side spilling over with basil leaves, sprouts, lime, and fresh-sliced jalapeño. Add a few squirts of hot sauce or hoison sauce and your cheeks will be burning, if not from love, then from spicy pho.

Of course, when dining alone, one doesn't get to practice the art of chit chat. You could, I suppose, bring a mirror to sit across the table from you. "You look like a million bucks today, Amanda." "Thank you, Amanda." But that's probably going too far. You don't want to go CRAZY after all; you just don't want to be sitting on the couch with a twinkie in one hand and a Coors in the other.

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