Amy Dahlin

  • Blogs

    July 3, 2014

    Coup d'Etat vs. Porchetteria: Walk-up window warfare

    Sometimes you just gotta eat. When racked with an impatient, irrational hunger, the rigmarole of parking the car, getting a table, pondering menus as thick and impenetrable as a quarterly prospectus, waiting for your food when you run out of things to say, and remembering to use your knife and fork ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 19, 2014

    Fasika vs. Blue Nile: Battle of the Berbere beef

    Minnesota is for carnivores. Steaks, burgers, and brats paired with some kind of bread and some kind of side are staples of our summertime diet. But it's easy to get caught in a rut and tire of the too-familiar options and too-familiar variations. This week we're breaking out of our Midwestern habi ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 5, 2014

    Taste of Thailand vs. On's Thai Kitchen: Pad Thai pandemonium

    When it comes to food from other cultures, "authentic" is a tricky designation. Not only is authenticity complicated by ingredient sourcing and the quality of the chefs themselves, when another country's cuisine is transposed onto our local dining scene, often only the most basic recipes survive. In ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 22, 2014

    Red's Savoy vs. the Bulldog: Cheesesteak challenge

    Once a dish is declared "the best," how long does it stay that way? How long does that chosen taco or cupcake deserve to sit at the top of the mountain? A realistic answer might be "as long as the restaurant manages to stay in business." A more psychologically accurate answer might be "as long as ou ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 8, 2014

    Edina Grill vs. French Meadow Cafe: Turkey burger takedown

    Serious foodies instinctively distrust restaurant chains. Chains evoke the processed, middlebrow, not-too-spicy-or-my-tummy-will-hurt blandness meant to please the masses. And they're, like, totally soulless, too. Isn't it obvious that the multi-grain, sustainably-sourced, earth-friendly, chef-drive ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 24, 2014

    Emily's Lebanese Deli vs. Zakia Deli: Spinach pie showdown

    One Saturday last autumn in the parking lot of the Maronite church on University Avenue in Minneapolis, we had a transcendant Lebanese sandwich: grilled bread stuffed with meaty eggplant, crispy onions, and tart and flavorful za'atar (a mixture of dried oregano, wild thyme, dried sumac, and sesame s ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 10, 2014

    Dong Yang vs. Hoban: Bulgogi blowout

    To paraphrase noted poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of grilled meat." While Minnesota lifers know another snowstorm is not inconceivable, burgers, brats, and juicy steaks on the grill are just around the corner. If you haven't scraped your gr ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 27, 2014

    Tilia vs. Blackbird: Fish sandwich fisticuffs

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but would a fish sandwich, even if you insist on tarting it up and calling it a Fish Taco Torta or a Catfish Po' Boy? It's just fish, bread, and toppings, folks. No need for misleading Orwellian doublespeak. Whatever you want to call them, you don't nee ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 13, 2014

    Cave Vin vs. Meritage: A French onion free-for-all

    Café Levain's onion soup is number 34 on our 100 Favorite Dishes list. But is it the only place in town with strong soup game? We don't live in some competition-mad, Talladega Nights-style dystopia where "if you ain't first, you're last." (At least not when it comes to food, anyway.) But a search f ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 27, 2014

    Grand Ole Creamery vs. Lynden Soda Fountain: Ice cream clash

    Here are some stats from last Friday's blizzard: 17 inches of snow; post-snow highs in the single digits; 60,000 people without power; more than 1,900 automobile spin outs and 680 crashes; 100 flights cancelled; 66 jack-knifed semis; black ice under bridges and on ramps; and yet another school day c ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 13, 2014

    First Course vs. 112 Eatery: Gnocchi knockout

    In Rome, Thursday is gnocchi day. And if you're serious about this delicious but labor-intensive dish -- which involves peeling, boiling, and ricing potatoes and mixing them at exactly the right moment with exactly the right amounts of flour and egg -- then trying it once a week is enough. Unfortuna ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 30, 2014

    Uncle Franky's vs. Valley Lounge: A coney dog confrontation

    Most of the time we visit restaurants that specialize in something we wouldn't normally prepare at home: tacos al pastor, Thai boat noodles, grilled sweetbreads, tres leches cake, and coney dogs. Real, make-your own sauce coney dogs respect and honor Michigan's great culinary contribution to the Wes ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 16, 2014

    Foxy Falafel vs. World Street Kitchen: A falafel fracas

    Which do you prefer: boutiques, tiny cafes, and record stores that specialize in Northern Soul 45s or malls, Macy's, and other convenient all-in-one emporiums with groceries and tires and tube socks? Your answer is not only the key to predicting our future economic landscape, it also relates to t ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 19, 2013

    A Baker's Wife vs. Sarah Jane's Bakery: The chocolate croissant crucible

    For many people over the age of eleven, the holidays feel less like a cheerful sleigh ride and more like a grueling biathlon where disappointment lurks at every turn. It can be tough to believe in the restorative power of holiday cheer: The long lines and the punishing weather, the endless bundling ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 5, 2013

    Mac's vs. Cecil's: The Reuben rumble

    How far can a little greatness take you? Does one great scene make a great film? Does one song make a great album? Does one great ingredient make a great dish? This is the conundrum we face this week. Behold the Reuben, the most delightful hot sandwich around. Each bite is alternately sour and ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 14, 2013

    Hilda's vs. La Loma: Chilaquiles cook-off

    Not too long ago, Mexican food in the Twin Cities was inedible. Dig if you will the picture of those awful Purple Rain-era nachos: heaping mounds of stale tortilla-chip shards and detritus covered with mild Pace Picante sauce, fortified with browned hamburger and topped off with sour cream, grated o ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 31, 2013

    Quang vs. Jasmine Deli: Pho Fight

    Sadly, traditional dishes with working-class origins often mutate into pretty, convenient, much less soulful mass-market versions. Beef stroganoff becomes Hamburger Helper, calzones become P'zones, and Greek yogurt becomes fat-free Yoplait, "packed with protein" in its little pouch like face cream- ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 17, 2013

    Maria's vs. Victor's: Clash of the corn cakes

    How do you refuel when you roll out of bed on a crisp weekend morning a bit worse for wear after closing down the Red Dragon the night before? If you instinctively grope for gooey chocolate croissants or glazed donuts and iced coffee, your morning will perk up quickly -- before ending suddenly in ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 3, 2013

    Al's vs. Fat Nat's: Dueling Diner Pancakes

    One of the most interesting things about diner pancakes -- which, at their worst, are as flat as Kansas and taste like blanket -- is that humans have been making them forever, potentially as far back as the Stone Age. Yet this ubiquitous breakfast dish elicits strong personal associations -- being ... More >>