Double patty smash burger from Monello
Are you a sheepish McDonald's lover? Be sheepish no more. If you don't mind paying a little more (OK, a lot more), head over to Monello for brunch or lunch. The kitchen has ingeniously reverse-engineered the McDonald's Big Mac and the McDonald's Filet-o-Fish to near-doppelganger capacity. The beef is a double smash burger with delicately apportioned five-ounce patties, dressed with iceberg lettuce, American cheese, pickles, and onions... though alas, no sesame seed bun. No Thousand Island dressing either -- an improvement to the original -- and with a truly juicy, prettily sliced red tomato. It's $14, but this is as delicious a burger as you're likely to get in a town with an asinine number of delicious burgers. Bonus: No need to hide the evidence under the car seat.
1115 2nd Ave. S., Minneapolis
With the myriad choices for Vietnamese on Eat Street, My Huong kitchen is easily overlooked. Sitting in the shadow of that pain-in-the-ass Kmart and without a Nicollet storefront, the condensed noodle and banh mi shop hides an extremely simple menu with wide-appeal foods from the Southeast Asian culinary treasure trove.
Chief among these offerings is the fantastically greasy yellow curry chicken noodle soup. With lava-colored bubbles of fat colonizing at the surface, the dish is robust and rich, and deep flavors of ginger and chiles permeate down to the spoon. Luckily, there's a big tangle of wheat noodles to sop up the broth, and thin cutlets of yellow-stained chicken offer some relief from the persistent spice.
For $7.95, it'll cost you the same as your average bowl of pho, but for the price, you get a much more complex broth that doesn't need lime, mint, or hoisin.
2718 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Beef tartare from Xavi
Eating raw beef is as polarizing a food experience as there is. Like oysters, winter, or Donald Trump, you love it or you hate it. But if you love it, your love is inexplicable and intense. When you see it on a menu, it must be yours. When you see it on a menu at Xavi, get it.
It’s a fussy little preparation, elaborate and lust-inducing. Three red, round, bite-sized dollops of the good stuff rest on nori (seaweed) crusted rice cracker. Then, a swipe of fermented back bean emulsion provides deeply funky yin, and a scattering of serrano chili and Napa cabbage the yang.
It's a balanced teeter-totter of a thing, one that could possibly make a tartarte lover out of everyone.
5607 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis
Fish sandwich special from Kyatchi
Operating just a few blocks from the deep-frying specialists at Revival, Kyatchi's cooks are experts in their own right at wielding large quantities of hot fat. Like Monello's above, this several-weeks-running special is an apparent homage to its McDonald's inspiration -- and makes for a far superior bite. Each week for the last few, the cooks have decided to put it back on the board again, and each week it keeps selling out. Some of that's return business from regulars, who keep finding the sandwich is available and -- whaddya know? -- they're still hungry for it. A big pile of pickled veggies serves as a crown, and a sheet of mayo as the bed. The golden filet stars, a fat, juicy piece that eats light and pairs perfectly with the smushed potato salad side. It's so good, you'll want to check back next week.
3758 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Pizza from Pizza Nea
With over 15 years in business, Pizza Nea is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to Neopolitan-style pizza. They've been my favorite for the longest. Pizza can be like a new crush -- when a shiny one comes along it's thrilling, but when that thrill burns off, you can always return to your one true love. That's Pizza Nea. With excellent char and crisp at the bottom layer, the crust yields into supple, chewy bubble above, and then is treated with loving care -- only the best ingredients like real Parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, incredible housemade spicy sausage, and lots more. The menu is also comprehensive, with over 30 variations on the pie, and the salads are generous and can make a meal on their own, arriving with heavily garlicked flatbread cooked in the same oven as the pizzas. Plus, they're leading the charge for "small buisnesses against hate," almost as good a reason to support them as their superior product.
306 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis