At Your Service: Cedar Ave.

Laura Anderson writes:

I am going to a concert at the Cedar Cultural Center (416 Cedar Ave S) this weekend and wondering where to go to dinner in the area. I love trying new restaurants and ethnic dining...but I'm just not so familiar with that area. Any thoughts?

Dear Laura,

Thanks for the query — fortunately, you're headed out to a promising part of the city from a culinary perspective.

The no-brainer answer to your question is Chai's Thai (414 1/2 Cedar Ave S). It's a new, small, family-run place that emphasizes Western-friendly flavor combinations without selling out the Thai essence of their food. I've only been there twice, but the service was friendly, the food was reliably tasty, and although the relatively cramped interior is reminiscent of dining in Manhattan, the decor is tasteful. The Massaman Curry (peanut, coconut milk, potatoes and beef - $9) is quite nice, and the Pad Thai was a no-brainer. The "fried banana cinnamon with ice cream" is an elegant and tastefully over-the-top sundae style dessert ($4), but if you want to do something more low-key, the sticky rice with mangoes or coconut (also $4) is also quite nice.

A few less-conventional choices to consider:

Right next door to the Cultural Center is the Wienery (414 Cedar Ave. S), open until 8pm on Friday and Saturday. The place has the appearance of a balls-out punk-rock dive, but the food is really good. I did a Twin Cities Chicago-style hot dog crawl, and the Wienery was at the top of my list. That said, it may not be the dining experience you have in mind.

Here's news you can't use: I haven't been to The Red Sea (320 Cedar Ave.), so I can't vouch for the East African food they serve — if you eat there, let me know. But it's an option.

A little further down the street is Town Hall Brewery (1430 Washington Ave. S.), which probably doesn't qualify as either new (it's pretty standard American bar fare) or ethnic. That said, it's a great option if you've got any beer lovers in your group and you're as interested in drinking well as you are in eating well.

Hope that's helpful — good luck with your dining and enjoy the show.

at your service,


Got a dining- or food-related question? Send it to jrnorton at flakmag dot com

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