Alexis McKinnis

You may know Alexis McKinnis as your go-to source for sex advice each week in the Star Tribune's section, but did you know she's a) writing a cookbook and b) regularly offering recipes and restaurant reviews on her Girl Friday blog?

1. As a vegetarian, what is your favorite place to eat out in the Twin Cities, and what do they do so well vegetarian-wise? Just one? Can I give you three? I never tire of the sides plate at Brasa, the creamed spinach being my favorite. I recently had to replicate the herb-cream dipping sauce they serve with the fried plantain and yuca because I love it so much. Gandhi Mahal is great. You won't find better Indian food in the Twin Cities right now. The aloo begun is incredible, and they're not afraid of the spice. King & I Thai is a new old favorite. I hadn't gone there in forever, walked in for a late dinner this winter, and have been hooked on the vegetable fried rice ever since.

2. You are very fond of (and knowledgeable about) Mexican cuisine. How did you come to specialize in this area, and what's your favorite dish to make at home? Oh, the things you'll do for a man. I lived with a native Mexican for almost two years and loved cooking for him. I read books on pre-Colombian Mexican cuisine and found that it's ideally vegetarian. What many people consider to be Mexican food is really more Spanish and American influenced. This is why I'm writing a cookbook, to help people create authentic Mexican flavors that aren't buried under meats and melted cheese. I make chilaquiles verdes often; with eggs it's the perfect hangover brunch.

3. You are a big proponent of the "throwback" sodas. Are they here to stay? What makes them better? I hope so. I'm getting tired of this limited-release B.S.--just keep the stuff on the shelves! High fructose corn syrup makes soda taste nasty, and a lot of people are trying to eliminate it from their diet now. I hope enough demand is created to make caffeinated, real sugar sodas a grocery store staple again.

4. Mixing food and sex: a good idea, or a recipe for a big old mess? I'm all for it, the slathering and the licking and the blindfolded teasing. Just please do not insert anything edible into the vagina. Very bad things can happen.

5. Of all the places you reviewed on your blog in 2009, which was your favorite and why? I was very pleasantly surprised by Il Gatto. Then again, why would I be surprised? Parasole knocks everything out of the park. Todd Bolton is indispensable, and Matt Kempf is very capable. Service has swayed a little bit since Il Gatto opened in November, but the menu holds up, the desserts have only improved and you have to love a restaurant that prioritizes their customers getting the most bang for the buck, both food and drink-wise. In short, I'm a big fan.

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